Side projects and hobbies are important

This post is part 5 of an adaptation of How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)this engaging and instructive essay by Austin Kleon, a Texan artist and writer. Kleon states that “when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.” What follows here is me talking to a previous version of myself, one 10 years younger, hopelessly naive and about to embark on a life in architecture.

5. Side projects and hobbies are important

Time and time again, history has shown that side projects can turn up trumps. Google Maps is famously the result of a side project, Kleon’s Newspaper Blackout poetry started life as a side project, my first ever building, Hill House, was a side project – designed, documented and built while I was still a student, and the foundation of our architectural practice today.

Side projects and hobbies occupy a unique mental space – no matter how difficult or serious they are, they never feel like “real work”. They are the things we to do relax, but can nevertheless be extraordinarily productive.

I have two such side projects: I write this blog, an activity that is cerebral but requires far less diligence than the work I do as an architect. The articles are short, simple, easy – I write them while I eat lunch or instead of reading before bed. I draw a lot too – I am up to the 32nd volume of my sketchbooks, a constant companion since my first year of architecture studies in 1999. Both contribute actively to my architectural work and who knows, one day we may get famous because of them.

Side projects and hobbies are important.

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