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Canadian Artist Celebrates 1 Year Of Kawaii Inspired Project

On July 10, 2016, Daryl J. from Red Deer, Alberta became inspired to start a year-long art journey that's brought her quite far a year later.

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"I didn't see it taking me this far after just a year." said Daryl shyly, during an interview with news reporter Josh Hall. To which he replied, "A year is a big commitment, and not a lot of people can do that."

Daryl Januszewski

Here is a close-up image of the last of 365 kawaii (Japanese 'cute') art projects. It's a shoebox museum & gallery.

So, what exactly is this project dubbed 'Kawaii365'?

Back in early July 2016, I (Daryl) went with my husband Rob to an adult coloring event where, unbeknownst to us, there were prizes. My sheet ended up winning a creativity book called "Unstuck" by an artist & author named Noah Scalin. I spent several days reading the book and trying some of the activities in it, before deciding to try something new. After seeing other artists, writers and musicians featured for trying year-long projects, I wanted to do one too.

Why is the theme 'kawaii'?

The coloring sheets we did on that fateful date night were in a cute, sort of Japanese cartoon character style. You know - like Hello Kitty, Sanrio cartoons... even Sailor Moon and Pokémon were my inspiration growing up in the 90s.

Can You Describe The Style of Art in Detail?

It mostly began with craft supplies. After deciding to start this year-long commitment, one of the first things I did was go to Dollar Tree and get every craft supply I could find. I got stickers, clay, pipe cleaners, mini canvases, posters, paint, chalk - everything! And so for the first few months, most of the 'projects' were physical and I was able to leave them in random places around Red Deer, along with my contact info. And yes it did lead to friendships over time.

Then, as the months went on, I discovered I have both a talent for and love of digital illustration, so I got back into making tee shirt designs and textiles, and selling them on RedBubble and on Zazzle. So a good 1/3 of all 365 daily art projects are digitally drawn.

So, How Were You Sharing This Art Project?

I started a blog right away! I literally didn't know what I was doing yet, but I was excited and open-minded and I was going to try this. After several days of tweaking and editing, I got it how I wanted it to look, and began uploading a photo and story for each cute face or being that got created and left somewhere. I didn't know that some of these projects would be really far-reaching though, and even end up seen by people in Europe and Asia, so that's cool! Thank you Blogger.

In addition to that, I utilized my social media to make sure not only other Red Deerians saw my work, but also the world according to the internet. I understand that's how a lot of modern cartoonists and photographers get their big break.

Oh and, I almost forgot to tell you - one of the very first things I did after signing up with Blogger, was to get business cards made and share them as well.

Well, It Looks Like It Took You Pretty Far - Can You Elaborate?

Yes. I remember how 'new' it all felt last summer, I didn't truly know where to begin and I admit I was just winging it for awhile. And then something clicked - I started networking and reaching out to others in the city, which led to being involved with major projects like Alberta Culture Days and Art Battle International. It was such an honor and a great self-esteem booster.

I wasn't expecting to meet so many new people, or get my foot in the door [of the arts world] so quickly. Rob & I have only been in this city since late 2015. Now that the 365-day art project is over, I still have big plans for my future as an artist.

I'm going to keep running all my eCommerce stuff - like Etsy, RedBubble and Zazzle, and I'm still down with doing commission work for others. I love to illustrate and even dating as far back to 2009, after getting my art diploma, I was doing commission work here & there. This project has just gotten me back into my groove.

Has This Affected Your Personal Life At All?

Yes actually, in a few ways. I've always been shy by nature. Well, I was bullied as a child and had low self esteem that I carried into my adult life (I'm 29 right now). Now, after all the compliments and collaborations, and just getting out there in general, I've gained some sense of self-worth. And better social skills (laughs).

Though this has put a bit of a strain on mine & Rob's marriage (in the sense of schedules and time management, since I was trying to do these projects & blog posts daily), he has been such a supportive spouse and I appreciate that! Now that I have some free time back again, I'm going to make more of an effort to be 'there' (present) for him.

I used to fret about not getting a lot of hours at work, but now that I have requests for artwork & writing (and sell some of my own, including coloring sheets and fridge magnets at the local farmer's market), I feel a little more financially secure than before.

And last but not least, this whole thing with schedules, planning, organizing and carefully tracking finances has really opened up my 'left brained' thinking.

What Do You Want The World To Get From This?

Ultimately, I want others - whether you're also an artist, designer, inventor, author, dancer, scientist, musician, teacher, etc. - to get out there and try something new. Put down that smartphone, connect with people, have fun. Create something. Look for beauty in nature and just really enjoy life. And then share that enjoyment with others.

I'd really love to thank everyone who made this project dream come true over the past year. Your kind words and actions have not gone unnoticed. Thank you.

See The Last Of Her 365 Kawaii Projects

View this video on YouTube
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