Playtime is the part of the day that you spend exploring and not “working”. Used properly this time can be some of the best and most productive of your day.
Part of playtime is spent looking at and watching what other graphic/motion designers and film makers are doing. I subscribe to magazines, podcasts and a host of RSS feeds to stay current with the latest trends and techniques. The point isn’t just to stay up to date but also to stay inspired and to keep my mind and ideas fresh.
The rest of playtime is spent making things, trying new ideas, dissecting what someone else has done, and learning new tools or techniques. Sometimes I start with no idea what I’m going to make and other times I have a fairly solid goal. Three or four years ago as I was learning Illustrator I decided to make a vector robot. It took a couple weeks to pull off (remember this was during playtime) but at the end I had learned a host of new tricks and had a pretty kicking robot to boot.
Playtime fuels a constant curiosity and a burning desire to create things that were thought to be beyond your scope. Its also important to be immersed in unfamiliar mediums from time to time; if you work digitally all the time pick up some clay or try letterpress for a change of pace and fresh insights. Without time to play, work become drudgery.