Project vs. projects, an upcoming change, advice for starting

Your Sundays are about to get more interesting.

Viewfinder Vol 1, Issue 6See all issuesSubscribe to Viewfinder

This is the sixth issue of Viewfinder. It’s been a pleasure and honor to talk about art making, creativity, and photography with you. A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Amie, Asha (who writes Parent of Adults), Daniel, Erika (who writes The Windfall Dispatch), and Jacques.

And a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community.

In this issue:

  • Something new: Viewfinder, Sunday edition
  • Project and Projects
  • What I like to think about when starting

A (small) change is a comin’

In the next issue, you’ll see a change of format that will expand what Viewfinder brings to you. Think of this newsletter as an experiment, a prototype, still on version 0.1. Change is natural in the early days of any product and Viewfinder will likely continue to evolve as this community grows and changes. Thank you all for the feedback… keep it a comin’.

What’s staying the same…

Currently, this journal is sent to you twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays. This has felt like the right cadence–not so many that it’s a burden to write or for you to read, but often enough to (hopefully) be of value to you. This delivery cadence will continue unchanged.

Themes around ‘establishing and maintaining your art making practice’ will continue on Wednesday issues of Viewfinder. This is a topic near-and-dear to my heart and there’s a ton still left for us to talk about.

So, Wednesdays will look similar. We’re changing things up on Sundays.

What’s new (Viewfinder, Sunday edition!)

Issues of Viewfinder sent on Sunday will be more focused on “projects”, on discoveries, and on sharing.

Sunday issues will include things like:

  • Mini project ideas to help you get unblocked. These will be small enough that you can easily do them in the following week. Most, but not all, of these will be photography-focused.
  • Links to interesting articles, artists, and websites. Stuff you might want to check out.
  • Spotlight on art projects shared by Viewfinder readers.
  • Updates on things I’ve been working on, in-progress work, and so on.
  • Smaller themes that don’t merit longer articles. Quick thoughts and observations that might get your creative juices flowing.
  • Status updates about how Viewfinder is doing (after all, this journal is a project too).
  • And more–we’ll figure these out together.

So, the premise of Viewfinder is not changing, but the contents will look different, at least on Sundays. The goal is to make Viewfinder more useful, more collaborative, and more actionable for you. We are a community of artists, creators, thinkers, and doers–my hope is that this new format will help everyone here be more successful (more engaged, happier) in their art making.

Color photograph of StartPhoto editor Ron Johnson. Ron's face is blocked by the camera. The photograph is lit by a flash, being reflected in a metal bowl.
Self-portrait of your editor. Yes, I’m reflecting the flash in a metal salad bowl. ©2014 Ron Johnson.

Project + Projects

As mentioned above, the Sunday issue will be focused on projects. I like this word–project–a lot. I’m a word geek, and ‘project’ is a great one.

A project can give you focus.

As a noun [proj-ekt], a project can be a container, a boundary, a unifier for a body of your artwork. It can give you a reason to take action. Projects can have beginnings and ends. They can have a defined purpose. They narrow down the scope of ‘anything-that-could-be’ to ‘what-is’, or at least ‘what-will-be’.

When you project, you share your focus. 

Project [pruh-jekt], as a verb, means to present or promote. When you project a movie, you shine a light to tell a story. When you project your ideas, you open yourself up, you put yourself out there. You shine a light.

Things that project, extend outward.

Also as a verb, things that project move outward and beyond. They protrude, extend, move forward. When you undertake an art project, your idea will grow and change as it moves beyond the confines of your brain and takes physical form, out into the world.

I love that we project (verb) ourselves (our interests, our intent) when we create a project (noun). We’re making this art stuff because it fascinates us, occupies us, fills our void. A project projects our curiosities out into the world. It makes our intentions manifest.

‘Project’ is the perfect theme for the Sunday issues of Viewfinder because the goal here is to help build your art making practice, to help reignite your creative self. It’s for discovering photography and art. It’s about all of us finding success with our art projects.

What I like to think about when starting a project

While by no means an exhaustive list, below are a few things I think about at the start of a new project. My answers to these questions are not set-in-stone–they’re subject to change as I figure out what the project will become. Regardless, thinking about these questions helps me get going.

🤔 Subject / theme: What is the project about?
This, plus content, will be a standalone topic of an upcoming issue of Viewfinder, but in a nutshell, this is what the work is about. It’s the meaning. The meaning may or may not be present in the content (see next) of the image. Subject can be the hardest thing to know when you’re starting a new project and likely will evolve as you find the work. This is fine.

🤔 Content: What are your pictures… of?
This is the stuff that will appear in the frame–the visible, identifiable parts of the image. Frame this as broadly or as specifically as suits you and the project.

🤔 Restraints: How and what are you making? (And what are you NOT making?)
These are the decisions that narrow your focus; physical attributes like the size of your art, the shape / aspect ratio, the materials and tools you’ll use, the location you’ll work in (if not part of subject or content), and how long you’ll allow yourself to complete the project.

🤔 Motivation / driver: Why are you doing this project?
‘The why’ of the project is stating your reason for making the work; it can help inform the other items above. People have all sorts of motivation for making. You don’t have to share it, but it’s good to know it for yourself.

👉 Together, these answers can help overcome inertia and unblock action.

Sharing is caring

One of the best ways to support this project is by sharing:

  • Share Viewfinder with a friend, invite them to subscribe.
  • Leave a comment, ask a question, share your thoughts.
  • Like button… easier than leaving a comment. 🙂
  • Share details your projects. This supportive community would love to hear about what you’re working on, what you’re thinking about, what you plan to do next. Send an email:

Until Sunday,

P.S. New to Viewfinder?
Here’s a couple recent issues worth checking out:
Gratitude and joy: Everything* I love about making art
Revealed: the greatest camera in the world
Finding Your Artwork: unbelievably simple truths about art making

Cover image: 05-06-2014-2 (West into the Central Valley, black and white version). ©2014 Ron Johnson.