In her day job, Alex Proba works as a graphic designer at Kickstarter. But every night when she comes home from work, Proba sits down for 30 minutes at her computer and creates a poster graphic, either from manipulated found imagery or from shapes and patterns she’s created on her own. Then she posts the final product to Tumblr, as she has every day for the past 250 days. It’s the kind of experiment that every creative person says they’ll do — what writer hasn’t vowed to pound out words in the early hours of the morning? — but hardly anyone ever makes good on.
The posters range from geometric to abstract to surreal — we like the one of a fish growing out of an enormous cucumber — and while many of them are trendy (hello, pineapples!) each one of them is pretty darn delightful. “I’ve actually gotten a lot of positive feedback, and I’ve begun to encourage other people to do something every day as a routine,” Proba says. “Currently I am working on A Blank A Day — which would be a platform and community of projects done day by day around the world.” Maybe we’ll join in when that project goes live, but until then we’ll live vicariously through Proba’s discipline and creativity. We recently spoke with the designer to find out a bit more about the project, and we’ve included a selection of our favorites below.
How did this project begin?
“A Poster A Day” started rather unexpectedly. One night I was working on a client project and somehow I got stuck. I usually draw inspiration from nature, traces of the past, and literature, especially works like “The Secret Life of Plants” and “Stories of the Brothers Grimm”— things that are not directly connected to design. But that night I started creating graphics without over-thinking, with no limits or restrictions. While playing around with shapes, lines, and imagery, I realized how happy I was to just create for the sake of creating beautiful things. Which made me wonder if I could make this a routine. I gave myself a challenge and decided to make a poster a day with just one restriction — time.
As a designer it is easy to spent a whole day tweaking just one tiny part of a graphic and it’s also easy to never be pleased with the result. I knew that the only way the project could work would be to give myself a 30 minute time limit. It was challenging for me to do this at first and equally difficult to incorporate into my daily routine. After 20-25 posters, I realized that the time and place in which I create a poster makes a big difference on the content. Today marks 250 consecutive days of creating. This project has become my visual diary, each day narrated through a poster. Making a poster is now the last thing I do before I head to bed. It’s like brushing my teeth.
Can you take us behind the scenes in terms of how you create? How much of each image is found versus designed? Do you keep clippings of imagery you want to use? Do you know before you sit down what you’re going to make?
This totally depends on my mood, experiences, moments, and feelings. Some of my posters consist purely of abstract or geometric shapes; others are collages created out of stock photography combined with photographs of materials such as marble, wood, and concrete. Others are made out of a mix of personal photography and graphics. There’s no set ratio or formula for this. I try not to think about the poster until the evening when I come home after work and sit down in front of my computer, drawing inspiration from my day. If I now look back on the posters I can recall exactly what happened the day of each and every poster. It restores my past, and that’s magical and beautiful.
What’s your color inspiration? Do you have a ringer color that always just brings an image together?
This is a tricky one to answer. First I thought I should be more conscious and vary the colors even more, or use some that are not in my liking. However, after thinking about this more, I realized that this would distance the poster from myself. The poster wouldn’t be 100% honest.
I think colors are what tie an image together in the end. When looking at my Tumblr, the posters all feel like one big family. They almost all work together as a series (as far as the color spectrum). However, the colors I work with in this project are colors that I personally tend to and like very much, but it happens unconsciously. I decided to continue as is and just let it happen naturally. Even if that meant that all of my posters would be navy and peach!
What’s your favorite poster and why?
I thought this would be a hard one to answer, but it’s surprisingly easy. I would say my favorite poster is Day 130 (above). I like the simplicity but also the meaning behind it. I created this one for the birthday of a very dear friend of mine and former colleague, Mimi O Chun.
Mimi loves pineapples and the egg resembles new life — her birthday in this case. Mimi is a designer and creative director and her design aesthetic is very minimal. So I decided to keep the rest of the poster rather simple and geometric using beautiful and honest materials like concrete and wood.
Is there one you really regret?
I probably wouldn’t call it regretting, but yes. There are many posters that I don’t like, sometimes within an hour after creating it. But I would say that this is the beauty and the curse of this project. I can’t take each and every one too seriously and I can’t spend too much time on it. If the result of this is me not liking some, than that’s okay, as long as it still stays my visual diary. That is what makes it truthful and real.
In your day job, you’re an art director at Kickstarter. Can you tell us what that entails?
I moved from being a lead senior designer at General Assembly to an art director at Kickstarter in the beginning of this year. This is brand new and very exciting. I am working with a team of product designers, the head of design and engineers on the Kickstarter product and everything that is connected to that. I got brought on for the brand side of things. Currently I am working on developing new color schemes and new visual systems, as well as thinking about what Kickstarter is now and what it will be in the future. It’s a wonderful company with great human beings trying to help other awesome human beings. I also work on day-to-day projects and longer term collaborations that come up. I am very happy.
Can you expand a little on what “A Blank A Day” will be? We love that idea!
I started receiving some emails and Instagram comments from people that I’ve inspired with “A Poster A Day.” It’s wonderful that my project inspires people. Hearing that makes me happy and I’m glad that others seem to enjoy it as well. I kept receiving more and more messages and some of them where even telling me about what kind of daily project they have started as a result of my “A Poster A Day,” which made me think: This is great and I would love to encourage as many people as possible to do something that makes them happy every day.
A very good friend of mine, Amy Ly, is one of those people and she brought up the idea to build something along the lines of a digital community and platform where everyone from around the world could link their daily project and browse through others as a source of inspiration—”A Blank A Day.” Amy and I are just starting to work on this.
For more inspiration, visit A Poster A Day every day, or see them all on Instagram!