Passionish Projects
Desk Lunch IRL was a live event that took place at Stink Studios in Brooklyn, NY on March 7th, 2019 in honor of International Women’s Day. For the next couple of weeks, in lieu of our typical essay format, we’ll be sharing videos and transcripts from this event. We hope to have another IRL event in the very near future, and will keep everyone posted on details! 

Katie Puccio
Ana is from Las Vegas Nevada. She studied advertising at Boulder before moving to New York to pursue her predominantly self-taught design career at Stink Studios, where she is a Designer. She approaches design from a strategic perspective and loves to solve problems through visual worlds and systems. Outside of design, taking photos, live music, and self-deprecating humor are a few of her favorite things. So everybody, clap it up for Ana.

Ana Realmuto
OK. This is cool. Alright so, today... OK. Alright, what a good looking crowd. I rehearsed that. Aright so today I'm talking about passion projects… passion-ish projects, actually.

Hi. I'm Ana. Really this whole talk is just to pose a thought that I have a lot. It's really something you might relate to or you might not, really totally cool. But I don't really know if there's a completion at the end of the thought. So just to give you a little prologue.

To set the table, I want to talk to you guys kind of about my day. And really how it goes is I wake up, I get ready, I rush to work, I kind of work a little bit and work some more, get some lunch, go back to work, juggle a couple of projects, go back to work, maybe I see a cool poster on my way home and I'm super inspired, I get back home. I binge watch "Housewives" then I go to sleep.

And then the next day, it kind of looks pretty similar. Maybe there's some things that have shifted around but you kind of get the idea. Day in, day out same kind of thing.

So I noticed throughout all these days there were these great moments where I was seeing cool posters, or cool inspiration, or cool designs, or whatever it may be. And I was really, really, really excited, but then also I had these really big moments of doubt or feeling like I wasn't completing something and I was trying to figure out why I was feeling those things and what I can do with those things that would make me feel like there are more diamonds.

So when I thought about it I was like mainly those downs are moments where I'm feeling unaccomplished.

But when I see those diamonds they're like all these really cool ideas, right? I see the stupid poster and I'm like "that would be great for this awesome zine that I've been thinking about that since like three years ago, and I haven't done.”

So I'm like let me just combine these this feeling of unaccomplishment and these feelings of all these cool ideas into: Passion Projects. That I think we all know. So I start thinking and I'm writing down all this list of ideas that I have. And this is just like, a very slim list of passion project ideas that I have. And I get really stoked and really excited and I start to feel more of those diamonds in those experiences that make me feel really good again. And then like maybe months pass and like these are only the ones that I've started. And I start to feel more downs. And then maybe in the years that have passed, this is the only one that I've completed. And usually, actually I can't even say I completed this, because we're still doing it so it's not really completed even there.

So I like kind of brought right back to where I started again, except for now instead of seeing some of those diamonds, those diamonds really turn back down to downs again because I see this cool inspiration and it just reminds me of that zine I wanted to start and I had an idea to start and maybe it did start, but instead of finishing it, I got distracted by "Housewives," or whatever it might be.

So I had to think about why I was feeling so frustrated and what I needed to do in order to go back to those diamonds and how I can (I don't know, what's the word) dig up those diamonds, (what's it called again?) Mine. Mine those diamonds.

I realized the more I thought about it, I was making these passion projects for the wrong reasons. So it was like I was feeling unaccomplished and I had this gigantic list that was making me feel more accomplished because I wasn't doing anything.

So I would do these passion projects because I felt like if I finish this, then maybe I'll be in "The Boom," or in the AIGA, or just like on Instagram for a second, whatever it is.

So I stopped caring about that and started to think about why I actually wanted to make these things, which was those down feelings. And so one day I just ended up going on the computer and making a picture, whatever that may be — I think I combined a couple of pictures or something. And that's where Passion-ish Projects come from. 

And to the point of these is to be the complete opposite of passion projects in the sense that you should have as little to no constraints as possible, so they can be something that you make every day, or it can be something that you make every year, or it can be something that you start and you never finish. And I think it's all about just listening to what you need at the moment. And not worrying about the end goal, or feeling accomplished, or not accomplished, or feeling creatively satiated, or whatnot.

So a couple of things that I did: I turned my Instagram into my journal pretty much, and I did this exercise where every time I was feeling kind of down in the morning — because maybe I checked Instagram someone else was making something cooler than I was —  I would just like to open up a Photoshop app on my phone and just like combine pictures and move them around for the time it would take me to get to point A to Point B. And like this is something that I do maybe a couple of days a week, or maybe I don't do it for a year-long period. It's really nice because I have no pressure and it doesn't make me feel bad when I don't do it.

Then they could be smaller than that. This is the video I made, has really no purpose, and it lasts for two seconds, and it took two minutes to make, and then I was over it, and then moved on, and I went back to "Housewives." And it was great.

These are some other things. Similar. But the point is. That they can even be very small things like this coloring book that I didn't even finish a quarter of. But it made me feel really good at the time and I really needed it. And it made me feel inspired to explore colors and kind of not care what the shape was or do whatever I needed to do.

It can be sketches or doodles that take two minutes to make or maybe, I don't know how long that thing took or whatever that is. And then it can also be, you know, I had these sketches where I tried to do this the window like eight times, and you can clearly see I didn't do the window eight times. So also the thing about this is that all of these pictures happened within a span of maybe three years. I don't do this on a regular basis.

And I guess the point of all of that or what I'm trying to say, what I've learned from all this, is that the process is important, but it doesn't really matter about the end goal all the time. Sometimes end goals are great but for me. It gives me a lot of anxiety when I'm not finishing my end goal. And if you remove some of those labels and constraints, it's very freeing and liberating, and you kind of listen to what you need from a creative perspective and I encourage that.

Try not to compare yourself to others, which is very obvious, but I feel like it's really hard to do when we're surrounded by so much talent and creativity on a daily basis, and we're just constantly involved in what everyone else is doing, and not listening to what we need to do.

It's ok not to finish things, you don't have to finish things. I feel like we were told like you have to, don't be a quitter from a young age, but like who cares. If you don't want to do it, just stop doing it and come back to it later. It's fine. Doesn't matter.

And the last thing I learned is that little projects are important too. And, that's really all I got for you. Thanks!
Ana Realmuto, originally from Las Vegas, she studied Advertising in Boulder before moving to New York to pursue her predominantly self-taught design career, currently, at Stink Studios. She approaches design from a strategic perspective and love solving problems through visual worlds and systems. Outside of design, taking photos, live music and self-deprecating humor are a few of her favorite things.
Art used in this issue: “Blått interiør” by Kitty Lange Kielland 
Desk Lunch is a community for all creative people of marginalized genders.
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