The One Project That Changed My Art Career

August 25, 2020


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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Back in 2015, I had just left my full-time graphic design job to pursue a freelance design and art career. (You can read more about that transition in detail here).

When I jumped into freelancing, my client workload was actually a bit slow. That, combined with an inkling that I wanted to step more into art-making and away from branding/graphic design, led to me taking an online watercolor class. 

I had some basic supplies on hand from experimenting a bit with painting before, but taking an online class helped jumpstart everything for me. I immediately fell in love with watercolor. On Instagram I had heard about something called The 100 Day Project. The very next day after taking that class, I decided to begin my very own 100 Day Project – 100 Days of Painted Patterns. Here is my very first post announcing the project!

Over the next few months, I shared daily watercolor paintings to my Instagram account. Each week, I would choose a new color palette to explore. Now, let’s talk about specifically how this one project changed my art career!

It got me comfortable with my chosen medium. 

I had dabbled in painting before, but I knew if I really wanted to improve in watercolor I needed to paint often and consistently. The 100 Day Project was certainly challenging, but it was perfect for that goal. 

I built up so many pieces for my portfolio and pushed myself to try new ideas. It helped me understand which color palettes felt like “me”, and which didn’t. It allowed me to explore with different materials and ultimately feel more confident with watercolor. 

It spread the word about my work. 

My audience on Instagram/Facebook were really engaged during the project and loved to follow along with the progression of the series. This helped build my audience further as well. 

Not only that, but some exciting accounts started sharing my patterns during the project like Design*Sponge and A Beautiful Mess, all thanks to hashtags. It was so exciting and almost unbelievable for me at the time! I even was interviewed on a couple blogs after they found my work on Instagram.

Ultimately, it led to me working with Design*Sponge on a design project that was my highest paid project ever at the time. All because I put myself out there consistently on Instagram! 

It gave me a fresh, confident mindset.  

Creating consistently and getting positive feedback on the project gave me the confidence to continue pursuing watercolor, patterns, and surface design as a career. Not long after I finished I landed my first licensing deal. 

Before the project, I felt totally overwhelmed and depressed about where by career was heading. With a lack of client work and a dwindling passion for brand design, the 100 Day Project gave me a renewed sense of clarity and excitement for art and the possibilities ahead.

I will say, maybe it was a little easier for me to cut through the noise on Instagram back in 2015 to get noticed, I still think it is absolutely possible today. Especially if you are super consistent with your project. And remember, the recognition I was getting online was great, but really it was the improvement of my watercolor skills that gave me the most confidence to move forward. 

Tips for starting your own project.

After reading this, you may be excited to start your own project! 

Here are my tips for starting your own project:

If 100 days sounds like too much, start with 30. It’s much better to do fewer days and actually finish the project than to let it fizzle out. 

Give yourself some light parameters or guidelines. Will you stick to certain color palettes, subject matter, or one medium?

Assign a unique hashtag to your project and make sure it isn’t already used. This will make it easier for you and others to browse all of the work (even potential clients!)

Add it to your calendar. If you want to take weekends or weekdays off, that’s ok! Just schedule your creation and posting time into your calendar to help you get it done. 

If you don’t get a ton of eyes on your project, that’s ok! Remember this is more about building your skills and portfolio. The recognition will come. 

Have any ideas for your 100 day project? Share them below!

Want to start with a simple 7 day project? Check out my classes, Paint 7 Days of Expressive Florals and 7 Days of Quirky Objects

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  1. AnnaLee Waite says:

    Hi Juliet. Lots of good information from this blog.

  2. Becky Breshears says:

    I did #the100daychallenge for the first time this year. It was a challenge but I agree with you. I learned a lot. I am looking for the next challenge…perhaps 30 days is good. We have a yard project going that takes a lot of time but hopefully I can find something that works! And just keep learning!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been thinking of maybe starting a 30 day project, but I don’t know how to make it small enough or manageable enough to do it consistently every day (full time job and homeschooling two small kids), but yet good enough to post on IG. I like the idea of posting because accountability helps, but I don’t know that I can consistently do something good enough to post.

  4. Kiki says:

    Hey Juliet,
    thank you for sharing your experiences!
    Sounds very good!

    Have a beautiful and succesful day!

  5. Beth Armstrong says:

    Thank you for sharing Juliet and for your encouraging words of wisdom – it can feel very daunting and overwhelming when you’re starting out and sharing your work for the first time but you’re right with lots of practise and consistency and taking a small step each day it really helps you to look back and see your own progress. X

  6. Reagan says:

    This is exactly what I need and want to do, but didn’t know how to get started! Loved this. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Shannon says:

    Thanks for sharing Juliet! You have inspired me to want to paint everyday, but I keep it to note cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, and such. I run into fear when I try to tackle something larger. When you did the 100 day challenge did you limit yourself to a size of project, to an amount of time For each day? Answers to these questions would really help me to see where, how, what and when I need to do my challenge and to stay faithful to it. Thanks and may you be blessed as you so generously bless others!😊

  8. Jessi says:

    I’m doing the #100dayproject now. I decided to follow another artists prompts. It is 10 prompts/ each for 10 days. I usually draw people so I thought it would be fun to practice drawing things I normally do not. Thanks for sharing your 100 days project experience.

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