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365 Days of Design


Consider the tortoise

Back in 2016, I, as an overconfident undergraduate student was gearing up to apply for summer internships. Long story short, I possessed no marketable design skills that actually qualified me for the roles I applied for, because I thought merely reading about design was enough.

I channeled my anger from all my internship rejections into coming up with this challenge, where, like the tortoise, I'd try to slowly move towards the goal of becoming a better designer in one year, rather than attempting to sprint it in a short period of time.

Cover image
The beginning

Starting with illustrations

I wanted to start off with what I thought would be the most fun skill to work on, which was illustrations. I incorporated styles I liked from other illustrators I found online, and tried a variety of techniques to learn both Adobe Illustrator, and how to do vector illustrations.

Trying new things

Learning UI design

I wasn't proficient at UI design, and wasn't familiar with things like best practices, design patterns, and even the (at the time) industry standard tool, Sketch. I got my UI prompts from the Daily UI Challenge, because coming up with a prompt each day was honestly really hard, so I took this shortcut to focus on designing.

In motion

Making things move

I put off learning After Effects for about 3 years, as it looked like an intimidating piece of software. I smacked myself and started with some tutorials and simpler animations. Great choice on my part, because it turns out I really enjoy making things move and come to life.

The struggle

There were bad days

Some days, I just wasn't "feeling it", but I didn't want to stop the challenge and get called out by everyone that I told about the challenge. On these days, I just made something quickly, and posted it anyways. Transparency about my progress was important.

Big projects

Splitting work into two days is not cheating

I wanted to occasionallly do the more detailed project. Splitting the work into two days allowed for some higher quality pieces. Mostly cars. But higher quality nevertheless.

The occasional gem

Sometimes (very rarely) I liked my work

Near the last 1/3 of the year, I started producing more and more pieces that I was proud of. I started to become more proficient in my skills, and as a result of being able to work faster, I could focus on quality.


What did I learn?

A little effort each day adds up to a lot. It sounds cheesy, but showing up is the most important step to getting better at something. Even if I produced something on a day that sucked, it was still better to take a small step forward than not at all.

Despite this project now being one of my oldest ones on this portfolio, I like to keep it up as a reminder of how far I've come. I probably won't have the time to do another project of this scale now that I'm older and have more commitments outside of work, but it'll help me remember that if I'm not immediately good at something, it's okay, as long as I keep at it, I'll eventually get to a level competency that I'm happy with.

The end

Thanks for reading!

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