What could you do with 100 days of making?

Elle Luna: 100Day Project

When we interviewed Elle Luna in October 2013, she had recently left her day job to dive into painting full-time. Prior to that, she had helped design Mailbox’s iPhone app, redesign Uber’s iOS app, and scale the storytelling platform, Medium; before startups, she spent five years at IDEO. The TGD alum has continued to make art and speak about her journey—and she’s written her first book due out this spring. Now, she’s working on an exciting new project, and she wants you to get involved.

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Update: The 100-Day Project now has its own home on The Great Discontent! Visit the project’s page.

I recently hopped on the phone with Elle to talk with her about what has transpired since we interviewed her in October 2013. As usual, she has many wonderful projects in the works, but the majority of our conversation revolved around the 100-Day Project, an upcoming collaboration that will celebrate the different forms that creativity can take. Read on to learn how you can participate! —Tina

Tell me about the premise of the 100-Day Project. A year ago, a group of us launched a social media version of a grad school project conceived by Michael Bierut, a prolific, talented designer, writer, and teacher. For years, he led graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art in a workshop that he called “The 100 Day Project.” The premise for Michael Bierut’s class was simple: each student chose one action to repeat every day for 100 days. For example, one student made a poster in under a minute every day for 100 days; another danced in public every day and made a video; another student, Rachel Berger, picked a paint chip out of a bag and responded to it in writing for 100 days.

Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right? That’s what I thought when I first read about this project on Design Observer. Not only were the projects clever, but they also offered an opportunity to grow in one of the ways my friends and I were craving: discipline. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.

41 of 100 self-portraits
Last year, Elle’s project was to create 100 self-portraits in 100 days; here are 41 of them

A hundred days! I can recall the questions that raced through my mind before I decided to jump in: Can I handle it? Will I push through when my schedule is jammed? Will I share even when I can’t resolve a piece? Will I show up every day, even when it hurts—especially when it hurts? A group of us banded together and decided to share our projects on Instagram, tagging images with #the100dayproject. People of all ages joined in, and there was something very empowering about the accountability of doing the project alongside other people in a very public way via Instagram.

Last year you completed 100 days of self-portraits, but others got involved, too, via social media. Were there any projects that stuck out to you? One of the projects I remember the most was from Hillary Patrick, whose Instagram bio read: “Wannabe artist. For real mom of two.” Her stream was filled with photos of her two adorable boys playing soccer. Her project? One hundred days of embroidered nonsense: she stitched a bone-in ham, an 8-bit Frogger, and the logo of the ‘80s cartoon, JEM. At the end of 100 days, in between soccer games and chasing after two energetic kiddos, Hillary had stitched her way to a robust body of work. It was spectacular to follow her journey through Instagram, which enables this whole new kind of interaction with artists and makers who share what’s happening with their work in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. The 100-Day Project makes process the great equalizer.

And now you are talking with partners about collaborating on a new 100-Day Project? There’s this wonderful African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This year we are bringing more partners in to help spread the word, support the community, and participate; this is truly a group effort. I’m talking with partners about this year’s 100-Day Project, especially museums, because museums are making their walls more permeable and rethinking how and where audiences experience, participate, and grow from the presence of art in their lives. It’s exciting to imagine museums taking on ground-up, community-driven, public art projects. If we want to get more people involved in creating art, the 100-Day Project has the power to do exactly that.

Just last week I was doing a studio visit with San Francisco-based artist, George Zisiadis, when he remarked, “I remember the first time I saw Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica.’ Next to it there were sketches he had done. Sketches? You mean it didn’t happen in one fell swoop? No! ‘Guernica’ was a long process of experimentation, and I’ll never forget realizing that. Creating work is about surrendering to the process. It’s about the act of creativity, which exists as an action and not as a product.”

That’s amazing! So, Elle, who should participate in the 100-Day Project and how do they get involved? Anyone who is hungry to jump-start their creative practice, who is curious about being part of a community that celebrates process, and those who are busy with work and family commitments, but searching for a bite-sized way to play creatively. While more details are going to be announced soon, anyone can join us on Instagram by following The Great Discontent or me to get the announcements. We won’t start for a few more months, so start thinking about what your project will be, and invite friends to play, too. It truly is better together.

Here’s how you can play:

#The100DayProject Rules
Here’s how to get involved in the 100-Day Project (be sure to follow TGD or Elle on Instagram); direct link to image for download

Alright, I have one last question. Will there be a culmination at the end to celebrate? You betcha. And while we can’t share details just yet, we think it’ll be worth the wait—wink, wink.

Well, we can’t wait to see what happens!interview close

Download and share one of the following #The100DayProject pledge images on your Instagram account to let others know you’re going to participate; illustrations by Elle

About Elle

Elle Luna is a San Francisco-based artist, designer, and writer whose first book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, debuts in April 2015. Read Elle’s full-length TGD interview online or in Issue One of TGD in print, available for purchase in our shop.

Note: This interview was originally published on January 27, 2015, and modified on January 30, 2015, to reflect updated information in regards to 100-Day Project partnerships.

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