Dreamers & Doers is a new series here on Sunday Blossoms & a twice-monthly mailing you can get sent right to yer inbox. This space is for creatives to find inspiration, support and encouragement to make their dreams a reality. Written + curated by Amina Ahmad, a creative dreamer / doer crafting through life in & around Washington, DC.
Meet my awesome friend, Nora Simon aka @noramakes. She is an amazing + inspiring artist in DC and recently completed a 100 day challenge to make cool shit every day. I knew Nora mostly as a screen printer before this challenge, but here she explored some other mediums in her signature bright colors + Summer fun vibe.
For this edition of Doers + Dreamers we chatted about her 100 day project, herself as an artist / maker and the separation of art + work. Read on!
Photo above by BYT & read more about Nora's 100 Day Project there.
Q&A with Nora Simon
Why did you decide to do a 100 day project?
Art has always been an important part of my life but for the past few years I felt like it had been put on the back burner. I wanted to make art a priority again and this felt like the perfect way to jump start that change. I heard about the 100 day project on a podcast and I thought “ok, I’m doing this immediately!”
I noticed you mainly stuck to a few main mediums - collage + gouache. When you set out, were you looking to stick to a certain medium?
Originally I had set out to try lots of different mediums but I kept coming back to collage and gouache or a combination of the two. I had dabbled in collage before but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it until I started this project. Once I discovered sparkly paper there was no turning back! I’d also done some painting previously but gouache was completely new to me. I’m so glad I tried it because it's so much fun! Also, it doesn’t smell bad and it's easy to clean up so that’s a plus.
Do you have a favorite piece from the project?
It’s hard to choose because there are a few that I really like. It’s a tie between “Do What You Love and Let it Kill You” and “Creative Juices”.
Did you learn anything about yourself during the journey? / What did you get out of doing this project?
I learned a ton about myself during this project. I found fun, new ways of making art and I learned a lot about my own personal style. It also helped me connect with other artists who were working on similar projects.
I’m day like five into my journey and right now I think it’s still easy to find something I haven’t drawn yet. On day 66, how did you find something new to make?
I realized around day 20 that if I didn’t use ALL my ideas then I would quickly run out of things to make. Luckily there were days when inspiration was everywhere (like when I was in Costa Rica), but then there were also days when it felt like the opposite. Before I started the project I wrote down a list of every possible thing I could think of that would make for some good art (and even some not so good art). That list really came in handy during those crappy, uninspiring days.
Did you think you weren’t going to be able to finish the project?
I never thought I wasn’t going to be able to finish but I did feel a bit burned out from time to time. I remember thinking on day 50 “OH MY GOD I’M ONLY HALFWAY THERE!” and feeling pretty overwhelmed. Luckily, the project started to fit into my daily routine better and became more habitual. Also, it’s hard to imagine what 100 days really looks and feels like until you’re knee deep in it.
What advice do you have for anyone currently on a 100 day journey?
Just keep at it! You may start to feel your enthusiasm shrivel but that’s ok. There will definitely be good and bad days. And If you don’t think you have the willpower to hold yourself accountable then find a specific person to help you out. Social media is a great place to start but having to answer to someone that you see regularly makes it much harder to skip a day. My boyfriend, Sean, was extremely encouraging and helped me photograph my work. He also asked me about what I’d be making each day as a friendly reminder to get crackin’!
What advice do you have for anyone hesitant to dive into one?
The great thing about the 100 day project is that it can be about anything you want! With that said, it’s important to choose a theme carefully. Think about what drew you to the project in the first place and decide what you want to accomplish. Also, make sure that whatever you pick is something you can have fun with every day for the next 3 ½ months because 100 days is a lot longer than it seems.
So, I’ve followed your work for a while. It’s all bright, shiny, happy, and almost vaguely nostalgic of elementary school supplies lol. I don’t know why I get that feeling! Maybe it’s bright like Lisa Frank or something. You tell me, though - where does your inspiration come from?
I was a big Lisa Frank fan back in the day so that might have something to do with it! I’m also a huge fan of anything that reminds me of summer vacation and having fun outside. Summer has always felt a bit magical to me because that stretch of time seemed so epic and adventurous when I was younger. And even though adulthood means not having those 3 months off, I still feel like summer holds some kind of power that the rest of the year lacks. I also really enjoy quotes because I love combining typography with imagery. Certain quotes conjure up specific imagery so it’s fun to see how I can portray them.
You have a background in art and graphic design but you don’t work in the field. Would you mind sharing what led you to decide not to work in the field?
After getting my BFA in graphic design I tried for several years to make my way in the design field. I tried lots of different things: working in a design firm, working at a non profit, being the sole graphic designer at a theatre company, doing freelance work, etc., but none of them seemed like a good fit for me. It felt like all my creativity was being sucked into work that I wasn’t passionate about and that I needed to make more time for my own art. After leaving my last graphic design position I decided to call it quits and got a job at a local second hand bookstore, Capitol Hill Books. I’ve been there for the past 2 years and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I still love graphic design but I would rather use my design skills on my own terms. Being able to make my own website and business cards is pretty awesome and I love helping friends out with similar projects.
Do you have any projects coming up next? Obviously, I’m always waiting for you to open an Etsy shop so I can have ALL THE THINGS lol!
Now that I have a better sense of what kind of art I like making I’m anxious to see where those paths will take me. I want to try some large scale paintings and collages and try to get them shown in a gallery somewhere. This sparkly paper really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated! :)
I don’t have an Etsy shop but I do have prints for sale at society6.com/norasimon.
Thanks for sharing, Nora!
Shop Nora's work on Society 6
Follow Nora on Instagram
Working on a project and want to chat about it? Reach out! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: Ed 06: We Can Do All The Things
"This really resonated with me today. I do so many (too many?) very different things and when I explain ALL my projects to people I meet they usually get confused. Yet, if I only share the project that is most relevant to that person or to the space we are in I feel they miss the whole *me*. There is also such a beauty in connecting with a new person on a topic that has nothing to do with what brought us together. Basically, I just take this day by day and have no answers. But it is helpful to know others think about this too!" - Valerie
"Loved this and OMG I feel the SAME WAY. Really I just need to stop following accounts on instagram that don't make me happy/inspired/etc ... I try SO hard to box myself into a cute/easy/CONCISE description of what I do ... but then I end up feeling like - well I don't really excel at any of those things specifically, and much pretty being pretty good at a wide variety of things!" - Bree
DOING: 100 Days of Bad Art
LISTENING: The Hummingbird Podcast - the Importance of Listening to Yourself with Eva Jannotta
PAUSE: Take a walk.