Make Something Cool Every Day

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6/14/09: suburban life

Brock Davis is a very creative guy. He works in advertising as a designer, is an artist and photographer, and also makes music in the band Work Of Saws.

But Davis decided he needed something more. He needed to challenge himself to be creative every single day. So at the prompting of a friend, he took on a challenge to Make Something Cool Every Day in the year 2009. Here’s how he describes it:

It was excruciating, exciting, nerve-wracking, fun, difficult; it was all these things. I’m definitely glad that I did it, but now that it’s over, I don’t think I’d do it again anytime soon.

Davis is married with a couple of kids, so he often didn’t even get started on his daily project until 10pm. If he missed a day, he’d make up for it by doing two images the next day. In the entire year, there is only one day missing an image.

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1/03/09: Rules – blank paper + thread + tape + exacto

Davis says his strengths are in drawing and photography, but with an entire year of “cool stuff” to make, he was pushed to try everything from sculpture, to telling stories using M&M’s as characters, to creating a self-portrait using his own shavings in the bathroom sink.

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5/30/09: stubble self portrait (drawn with toothpick)

The need to create something no matter what meant that, inevitably, some days were better than others. But they still went up on the web. Davis says the experience was both humbling and liberating:

I think the interesting thing is that with this project people can see all of your sides. You can’t really hide from anything. So you pretty much have to be prepared for letting people see everything. Seeing your successes, seeing your failures – so I pretty much accepted the fact that I would be showing people everything. If it’s cool, that’s great, if it’s not, that’s fine too. It helped me relax a little bit.

In some ways, Davis felt the project took him back to his childhood:

When you’re a kid you have this free imagination, there are no clients, no real deadlines, you just look at everything around you, you’re inspired by it, you create – it really taught me to pay more attention to everything around me. Objects that are seemingly uninteresting at first glance can be really interesting if you know how to extract that from them.

Over the course of the year, Davis found inspiration in things like bananas, milk cartons, a fly stuck in a cobweb, and a glass table-top. And his eye become drawn to simple actions, like cutting vegetables, or fabric.

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10/4/09: shark

While Davis’ project was born – and lives – on the web, it is now moving from the digital world into a physical show, opening Saturday at Creative Electric Studios in Minneapolis. Director David Salmela is also Davis’ bandmate in Work of Saws, and says while he’s always interested in Davis’ work, this project particularly struck him.

This project has already been lifted up on the web all over the world. At Creative Electric we’re just really interested in the idea of making work,and so what we like about this is… I hope it will inspire people to want to make things, explore their own creativity, and see what’s possible.

Salmela says the exhibition will feature all the images from the year, in chronological order, organized similarly to a calendar. Because Davis is an experienced photographer, Salmela says printing the images has revealed a whole new layer of artistry.

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7/16/09: fencing

So, if Davis is so happy the project is over, does he recommend anyone else take it on?

You bet he does.

There are other folks out there doing similar projects – photo a day, song a day – I think that structure keeps you motivated and inspired, and for me it definitely kept my brain sharp. This process can’t help but improve what I do in my work, too.

Brock Davis’ series “Make Something Cool Every” will be on display at Creative Electric Studios starting May 1, with a reception from 6:30 – 11pm.

  • Mary

    So cool and very inspiring!

  • Erin

    With my usual child-like enthusiasm for taking on a big creative project, I’m itching to launch myself into a “Do Something Creative” or “Do Something New” every day for a year challenge… conveniently skipping over his “excruciating”, “nerve-wracking” and “difficult” descriptors to focus on “exciting” and “fun.” I celebrate your accomplishment, Brock!