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A CGI Master Made a New Artwork Every Day for 10 Years

Mike Winkelmann, the prolific CGI artist and animator also known as Beeple, has been posting a new digital illustration—ranging from the abstract to representative, sci-fi to surreal, somber to sarcastic—every 24 hours.

On May 1, 2017, the Wisconsin-based artist published his 3,650th iteration of the series, which has gone uninterrupted through rain and shine, sickness and health, music videos and advertising work, and two children. Creators interviewed Beeple about his accomplishment and his process.

Creators: Did you ever think you would make it to 10 years of everydays?

Beeple: No. I was focused on trying to get better at drawing. I wasn’t thinking about an end date. After the momentum of the 2nd year, I realized I could keep doing this for a while. Once you get the momentum, that’s what carries you forward.

Some days, you don’t have that much ambition. It’s like, “I’m fucking tired, I don’t want to keep going.” The momentum really helps you. You think, “Am I really going to ruin my streak for this?”

How long do you spend on each entry?

From five minutes, if that’s all the time I have—like the day my first daughter was born—to a couple of hours.

How do you know when you’re done?

Mostly it’s time. I have to go to bed or something. A lot of times there’s a sense of defeat. I’m out of time and this was the best I could do?

Do any of the pieces from the past 10 years stand out in your memory?

There are certain pieces where I tried a new technique or idea, but mostly my growth is incremental. It doesn’t come in huge breakthroughs. There are small discoveries like, “That’s what that button does.” or, “That’s a nice color.” rather than giant breakthroughs. But when you get thousands of those, you can see real growth.

Have you really never skipped a day? No vacation, no hangover, creative block, plain laziness?

I really haven’t. I define a day as by midnight, and there are definitely days where I go really down to the wire. Last night I cut it pretty close. The thing is, you don’t always have an hour, but you always have five minutes, and you can make something creative in five minutes.

There are numerous times throughout the past 10 years when I’ve had food poisoning or something, and I’m puking and shitting my ass off. I come over to my computer huddled in blankets, put down some stupid crap I didn’t give a shit about, then I post it and I’m done. It only takes a couple of minutes. Those are days when you’re completely carried by the momentum of the project.

The other thing is there are certain days you know are going to be weird. Plan in advance. If you going to go out drinking, do your everyday first. You’re not going to do it afterward. If you’re traveling, wake up early and do the picture, then go through your day.

Creators‘ full interview with Winkelmann, can be read here.

Keep following Beeple on his website or Instagram.

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