London-based illustrator Sarah Peters has liberated herself from the fear of making mistakes by taking her work in a surprising new direction with her 50 Faces Challenge, where she tasks herself with drawing a different portrait over 50 days.
Getting stuck in a rut and worrying about the standard of your work is a common concern for creatives. This can lead artwork to become stagnated and uninspiring, but there are ways to break out of it. For Studio Braemar's Sarah Peters, a self-imposed artistic challenge was just what she needed to spice up her illustrations.
Titled the 50 Faces Challenge, this project sees Sarah draw a new face each day. She also documents the process of creating these portraits and shares them online. "The aim of the challenge is for me to push the boundaries of my artistic style while liberating myself from the fear of making mistakes," she tells Creative Boom.
"It provides a space for me to embrace playfulness, curiosity, and, most importantly, to eliminate self-judgement. In particular, I've embarked on this journey to explore innovative ways of infusing colours into my sketches, creating a distinctive visual style."
The idea for the challenge stemmed from the frustration Sarah was experiencing in her artistic journey. She says she felt she had been playing it safe and constantly experienced the pressure to achieve perfection in every aspect of her work. And it wasn't long until she realised other artists were facing the same dilemma. "Even when doodling in a sketchbook, there's an unspoken expectation for things to look neat and beautiful, which ultimately hampers our ability to create freely in a genuinely unrestrained manner," she adds.
"I realised that these self-imposed invisible barriers were constricting my creativity. To break free from these constraints, I needed to allow myself the opportunity for artistic freedom. And I felt a challenge was the best way to ensure I stuck to that!"
Besides drawing a face every day for 50 days, the main rule Sarah must follow for this challenge is maintaining a feeling of freedom throughout the process. "Each day, I approach the project with an open mind," she explains. "As long as I remain curious and playful, I'll push my creative boundaries and grow as an artist."
Sarah has recently crossed the halfway point, and she feels she's learnt a lot in that time. "Fifty faces is a lot of faces!" she jokes. "Also, uncoupling from my obsession with precision has brought a whole new dimension to my work. I've been enjoying the freedom of adding quick, loose paint strokes over my precise sketches. The contrast between the two styles really speaks to me. I feel that for the next 25 faces, I'll be leaning even further in this direction. It's an exciting prospect to explore, and I'm eager to see how it adds depth and energy to my art!"
The creative freedom sounds like it has rejuvenated Sarah's enjoyment of creating illustrations. She says her favourite part of the challenge has been watching the pieces transform and witnessing the growth in her artistic style. "It's incredibly exciting to see the progress I've made and the direction I'm headed with my artwork. I'm looking forward to where the next 25 pieces (and beyond) will take me!"
This new direction includes new, graffiti-like additions of colour. "When I first started this challenge, I approached adding colour to my sketches with uncertainty," she reveals. "I lacked a clear understanding of why I wanted to incorporate colour or the emotions I wanted it to convey.
"Through this challenge, though, I've taken the time to deeply explore and question these aspects, resulting in a newfound clarity regarding my art. Now, it's all about pushing those boundaries even further and embracing a more adventurous and playful approach to my art."
The challenge is going so well that Sarah would recommend it to artists looking to push their work in a fresh artistic direction. It's especially useful for people who struggle to find the time or motivation to try something new. "It's an opportunity to carve out dedicated space for your creativity and break free from the usual routines.
"At the halfway point, it's clear to me that it doesn't have to be as many as 50 faces/objects/items; even pushing yourself to work outside of your comfort zone for five creations will steer you to a new way of thinking or a new aesthetic."
And while the end of the project is still a while off, Sarah already knows what she wants to do with the work she's produced. "The entire collection will be made available for sale (as individual pieces) on my Instagram page and website on Thursday 29th June," she concludes. "I've been so grateful for all the lovely support I've had so far, and I can't wait to see where the next 25 pieces take me!"