Don’t know what to do with your extra time? There are plenty of odd jobs and tasks that an illustrator can do in between assignments. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a long list of projects, ideas, and necessary chores to help make your free time more productive.
Tell a Story
- Make a book cover for your favorite classic novel.
- Create a series of illustrations that show the passage of time.
- Illustrate a song.
- Make a narrative advertisement for a soft drink.
- Illustrate your favorite childhood memory.
- Make a children’s book spread for a fairy tale.
- Illustrate the four seasons.
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- Make a series of black and white “chapter” drawings for a novel.
- Retell a short story in graphic form.
- Create a theater poster for a Shakespearean play.
- Create a series of illustrations that shows a person aging.
- Make an instructional poster for a favorite recipe.
- Illustrate a day in the life of a cat, dog, fish, or monkey.
- Make a picture book dummy.
- Illustrate the seven days of the Creation.
- Interesting stories to consider: The Odyssey, the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, nursery rhymes
- Make a magazine cover for a current news story.
- Illustrate a famous historical event from: 20 years ago, 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, Prehistoric times
- Illustrate family life in the future, at least 100 years from now.
- Make an illustration influenced by your favorite illustrator.
- Paint a landscape with only three colors.
- Create a painting in a medium you’ve never used before.
- Study and draw figures from each source: Bridgman, Vanderpoel, Hogarth, and the masters
- Make an abstract painting.
- Paint a self-portrait.
- Create a full painting in 30 minutes.
- Draw a figure in: 1 hour, half hour, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds.
- Fill a page of your sketchbook.
- Create two versions of the same painting — one with warm colors, one with cool colors.
- Sketch in a public place.
- Paint a traditional still life.
- Paint the same still life in your illustrative style.
- Read a book.
- Watch a movie.
- Read other artists’ thoughts.
- Watch how other artists work.
- Take a class, if there are any available in your area.
- Research a particular era, artist, or style and create a few paintings influenced by it.
- Take a trip to a zoo or aquarium to sketch animals from life.
- Create a series of spots to use on your website.
- Make an illustration for a postcard.
- Design a new logo for yourself.
- If it’s near the holidays, create a Christmas card to send out.
- Create a Thank You card to send to clients.
- Draw a self-portrait in your illustrative style to use on your promotional materials.
- Create a business card.
- Make a small sampler, such as a booklet, that contains your artwork that you can use to give to prospective clients.
- Create a piece of artwork to enter into a competition.
- Take a moment to archive your traditional paintings through scanning, digital photography, or slides.
- Backup your digital files to a disk, hard drive, or server.
- Create sample sheets of your artwork that art directors can file easily.
- Update your website with new artwork.
- Work on creating samples for styles, markets, and subject matter that you are lacking in.
- Create stationery for your business.
- Make computer desktops or e-cards to distribute on your website.
- If you are a children’s illustrator, create some coloring pages for your younger fans.
- Create a fresh, new illustration to be used in a sourcebook or other advertisement.
- Clean your work area.
- Catch up with your paperwork.
- Design a character for a book/movie/tv show.
- Draw a caricature of your favorite movie star.
- Illustrate a fortune from a fortune cookie.
- Create an illustration that integrates your name.
- Make an album cover for your favorite band.
- Create a modern movie poster for your favorite classic movie.
- Create a classic movie poster for your favorite modern movie.
- Design a creature that is a combination of at least two different animals.
- Design a car from 100 years in the future.
- Paint a landscape painting of an imagined land.
- Draw a treehouse. Include as much detail as you can.
- Draw 50 thumbnail sketches of the same object.
- Make an illustration for each month of the year.
- Design a deck of cards.
- Make up your own fairy tale land and characters.
- Research and draw characters/objects/settings from: the Mob, the Middle Ages, the Samurai, a Pirate ship.
- Draw a monster a day for a month.
- Illustrate a song from the Sixties.
- Create illustrations of current events and topics such as global warming, airport security, new technology, or education.
- Illustrate a stereotype.
- Participate in Illustration Friday.
- Create a Moji.
- Start a blog.
- Help other artists who ask for critiques of their work.
- Join an artists’ forum and participate in discussions.
- Find and study online tutorials.
- Look at other artists’ work through portfolio sites and blogs.
- Subscribe to Drawn!
- Subscribe to Lines and Colors.
- Listen to what other artists have to say through podcasts.
- See what other artists’ like on de.li.cio.us and StumbleUpon.
- Contribute to the ThreeThumbsUp Gallery.
- Read EmptyEasel.com.
- Check out AmateurIllustrator.com.
- Join a community like the Little Chimp Society or Illustration Mundo.
- See the point of view of an art director.
- Stay up to date with your industry: SI, SCBWI, GAG, IPA
- Find illustration competitions.
- Online portfolio sites: Portfolios.com, iSpot, Illoz.com, childrensillustrators.com
- Read book reviews: the Sandbox, Fuse #8
- Subscribe to DaniDraws.com for illustration tutorials, videos, and more great articles like this one. ;)
Many images are used to help a narrative, and as an illustrator it is important to keep developing this skill in your off-time.
Time to get back into the classroom! Refresh your skills every now and then so you don’t lose sight of the basics.
Don’t let the promotion and organization of your business get pushed aside.
One of the hardest tasks that illustrators have is to stay fresh and original. Use your free time to keep the creative juices flowing.
These are resources I have found across the internet that will help you grow as an illustrator.
And Last But Not Least…