Forcing yourself to make something every single day of January: a worthy creative New Year’s resolution ... or self-torture?
For artists who participate in Fun a Day Pittsburgh, it can be a little of both.
Milo Berezin, a Pittsburgh artist and the arts education coordinator at Union Project, says it is fun every day. "It's also exhausting, infuriating, inspiring, panic-inducing, energizing, and occasionally even relationship-damaging. But, it's worth it!"
After kicking off 15 years ago in Philadelphia by artists’ group Artclash Collective, Fun a Day has now branched out to seven other cities, including Pittsburgh.
Participants spend every day in January working on a project for the month — some make something new for 31 days, others pick one big project and work on it a little each day. At the end of the month, everyone is invited to show off their finished projects in a group art show.
This will be Berezin’s fourth year participating. Last year, because he wanted to learn to be a better cook, he used the opportunity to cook a new dish every day. Afterwards, he drew a recipe card, hand-lettering and illustrating the list of ingredients.
He’s also done a print-a-day and “31 Drawings of my Dumbass Dog,” including a hilarious illustration of his dog laying down, paw touching his erection, surrounded by the text, "Draw me like one of your French poodles." This year, he plans to work with ceramics.
Laura Greenawalt, coordinator for Fun a Day Pittsburgh, compares it to forcing yourself to exercise every day. You know you should do it, but it’s not always easy.
“There will definitely be days that you're like, OK, this will take me five minutes. Just go do the thing, but still it's a struggle,” she says. “After you follow through on it a couple of times, it gets easier.”
To help motivate the group, participants share their works-in-progress on the group’s Facebook page, and Greenawalt sends out emails throughout the month, encouraging everyone to keep going.
“There's a lot of people who start with really big ambition and then get frustrated or run out of ideas or life gets busy and they already got the endorphin rush of saying they're going to do the project,” says Greenawalt. “I think there's something to putting your best effort into building a healthy creative habit that makes it really worthwhile.”
Greenawalt has been involved in Fun a Day for five years, starting off as a participant before volunteering to help. Not everyone who signs up is an artist. She says it’s a great chance to push yourself and experiment, and people shouldn’t beat themselves up if they miss a day.
Greenawalt herself says she didn’t quite finish all 31 days her first year. “I think I landed at 27 pieces or so, but walking into [the Fun a Day art show] to see my piece hanging next to everyone else's was really powerful!”
This year’s art show will take place in early February, and people still have time to sign up to join in on the fun.
“It's so much fun to see dozens of wonderfully different approaches to the same challenge,” Berezin says. “To celebrate everyone's accomplishments and to commiserate about the ways in which we struggled.”