Creativity beyond the 9-5

Marijana Miric (GCM ’13, MDM ’15) works in Ad Operations for GroupM Canada and Jamie Kwan (Architecture ’13, MDM ’15) is an Experience Designer with FORREC Ltd. They are the co-founders of Studio Bud.


When we’re young, we’re taught to be curious, creative, and confident. Before we “choose” a path, we’re all budding scientists, artists, and innovators. This doesn’t need to end just because you’ve started your career.

In our first year post-graduation, we’ve both been fortunate to have started careers in successful companies that fall within our respective industries. We studied hard, worked hard, and now we’re left dealing with “life” once 5 p.m. hits. That’s why we’ve become advocates for what we call the “creativity happy hour” – the time spent pursuing passion projects in the other 40 hours outside of work.

What’s in a passion project?

Passion projects focus on something you’re excited about outside of your day job. It’s something you do just because you want to; whether it allows you to unleash your creativity, give back to the community, or embrace change. The best part is: it’s all done through the guidelines you identify, because you’re really doing this work for one person – yourself.

We pursue passion projects purely because it makes us happier human beings. The development of this mindset is exactly what has helped push us forward in both our personal and professional lives. A passion project close to our hearts is Studio Bud – a creative initiative that uses the power of play to foster blue-sky ideation between Gen Z youth and organizations. The result? Empowering the next generation of creative leaders, while uncovering authentic Gen Z-inspired solutions to real-world challenges. You see, in our own passion projects, we owe our continued energy to this “creativity happy hour.”

Build creative confidence and foster curiosity

Passion projects are inherently about exploring something you’re interested in, regardless of the existing constraints of corporate, industry, or client norms. These projects allow you to take all of the creative risk in embracing and exploring the unknown. Due to this, they build a comfort in ambiguity, because the project is purely dictated by you and the direction you set, which can pivot. By having complete control, passion projects give you complete confidence to explore blue-sky ideas. After all, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Fail and learn (safely)

When you take risks, you inherently set yourself up to fail – and that’s okay. Failing means you’re about to learn something great. Your own ambition is solely what constrains your passion projects, so really, what’s the worst that can happen? The environment you find yourself in often functions as a 150% safe atmosphere for embracing a fail-fast mentality. Passion projects protect and encourage this.

Keep thinking like a weirdo!

As millennials, we owe our successes to how we think like weirdos. We see it as a positive – being weird means you’re interesting and offer a perspective from outside the box. In some ways, as a student, you’re moulded to think a certain way and to obtain skills that will get you a specific career. Having a passion for something else gives you just that much more to talk about! Are you a sociologist with a passion for cooking? An engineer with an artistic thumb? Own an identity that extends beyond the 9-5, or even your “career path,” and you’ll be rewarded in the workplace.

It’s insanely satisfying to pour your heart and soul into a project that’s just for you and your peers, and is purely for fun. (It can be just as fun as binge-watching Game of Thrones!)
As recent grads, our biggest advice is always to keep feeding your curiosity, which we do through passion projects. That time in the “creativity happy hour” can not only be fulfilling on a personal level, but help keep your career moving and growing from a very early stage.

Marijana Miric (GCM ’13, MDM ’15) – As a Master of Digital Media graduate, Marijana fell in love with the idea of inspiring companies to incorporate digital strategies to enhance their brand. She combined her love of digital with her passion for project management and now works on Ad Operations for GroupM Canada. On the side, Marijana is the co-founder of Studio Bud.

Jamie Kwan (Architecture ’13, MDM ’15) – Jamie is an Experience Designer, currently working as part of the Creative Studio at FORREC Ltd. His combined passion for digital media and architecture led to his work in brand storytelling, interaction design, and immersive environments. On the side, Jamie is the co-founder of Studio Bud.

5 thoughts on “Creativity beyond the 9-5”

  1. I love the message in this! We should all have a passion project! It’s healthy!

    1. Absolutely!! The best part is that, not only have passion projects made us better humans, friends, and collaborators, but it’s also pushed my career forward in the short period after I graduated. There’s definitely an unmatched energy from creativity. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. I just love this post. Thanks for reminding us that we were all born creative beings and naturally curious – and pointing out that nurturing these qualities in ourselves will make us better in our personal and professional lives. Your enthusiasm is contagious.

  3. A truly amazing idea. I can safely say that as recent grads you have absolutely no idea as to the importance of a passion project. Why do I say this? I am a recent retiree having worked for over 35 years in a job I loved. That being said, I now have at least another 35 yrs to enjoy my passion projects. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having passion projects and also PASSION PROJECTS WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER OR TREASURED FRIENDS!
    It is the “passion projects” developed early that will sustain and stimulate you when you retire.
    I am definitely a wierdo, fail regularly, have “many” passion projects and am thoroughly enjoying life with all its unique challenges and opportunities. Bottom line – throw out the box it really isn’t all that important and live large!

    1. Can’t agree with you more! We are just scratching the surface with passion projects, just a year out of leaving the Ryerson bubble, so we cannot wait to see what happens 30 years down the road! I’ve definitely made the best of friends purely out of these passion projects. Thanks for sharing your perspective, and amazing to know us weirdos go beyond generations 😉

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