Rob Walker | Essays

Resolutions, Vibrantly Illustrated

As modes of expression go, the New Year’s Resolution often proves ephemeral. For perhaps related reasons, actually devising resolutions tends not to be particularly fun.

With that in mind, I’ve been enjoying a current project by London-based illustrator Linzie Hunter: Hand-Lettered Resolutions. Last month she put out a call via social media for other people’s resolutions, which she is illustrating through the month of January. You can see what she’s created so far, and continue to follow along in the weeks ahead, at her Behance site

I’ve been a fan of Hunter’s work for a while—I wrote about one of her earlier projects, hand-lettering the even more ephemeral and unpleasant communication form of spam email, back in 2007—so I was interested when I heard this was in the works. But when the results started to emerge, I had to drop her a line.

In a sense, this project is itself the result of a 2015 goal. “Around the end of last year, I decided I was going to set aside an hour or so a day, every working day, to devote to personal/sketchbook work,” Hunter explained via email. “I know I'm a happier person when I'm not solely focused on commercial work, and sketchbook work is a good way to keep your work fresh. Sadly, when I get busy it's the first thing to get dropped. So setting this project for January helps me commit myself to this goal.”

Since putting the word out, Hunter has received resolutions from friends, followers, and others via email, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram—“definitely in the hundreds now,” she says, “which is more than I expected for quite a low-key personal project.”

Presumably she won’t be able to illustrate all those, but a few recurring themes have emerged, Hunter observes: “procrastinate less, focus more, worry less, draw more (from the designers and illustrators!), and notably, spend less time on social media.” So far, she says, she’s been sticking to the daily schedule, using a mixture of ink and brush pens, Photoshop, and a Wacom tablet.

I’d say the results show that the resolution turns out to be a clever form of prompt to borrow—and particularly to crowdsource. The answers are by necessity blunt, and perhaps indirectly revealing. But they're also varied enough to spark a range of visual responses. 

Plus, these are interesting little documents of aspiration: a cross-section of others’ goals we can consider against our own. Some are modest, some are bold, some are practical, some are funny. Perhaps taken together they can even be inspiring (partly because they’re more believably sincere, and less pious, than self-consciously “inspirational” expression tends to be).  

Finally: Declaring one’s resolutions can be daunting; seeing these examples rendered in Hunter’s inviting style makes the whole ritual feel a little more appealing. 

But I shouldn’t impose more weight on Hunter’s project than she might intend. “The good thing is that it focuses me on creating something in a short amount of time and also is slightly freeing,” she says. "I'm not aiming for a masterpiece each time. As one memorable resolution I just read says, ‘Done is as good as perfect!’” See? Maybe other people’s yearly goals can even be useful. In any case, surely this project is giving these notoriously fleeting expressions a longer life than many of our resolutions have. 

As noted above, the project is on Hunter’s Behance site, and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Posted in: Illustration

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