Tell us a bit about yourself and your side hustle.
My name is John McLaughlin (@jhnmclghln) and I’m a Brooklyn-based artist and Associate Creative Director. I’ve been living a double life almost my entire career, working in and out of agencies and design firms – all while keeping my art practice going. A lot of my personal artwork centers around the world of a 3D character called Fuzzy Dude. I share different vignettes of this character online, and I also had a gallery show at Cooler Gallery that shared the origins of Fuzzy Dude and his world.
What inspired you to start your side hustle? How long have you been doing it?
The character was first conceived after-hours at my first few agency gigs. I would learn Cinema 4D in my spare time. The effort has evolved beyond a side project at this point; I’ve been working on the characters and narrative behind the larger world for the past six years.
Does your side hustle benefit the community in any way? If not, do you plan on using it to give back at some point?
I’ve created artwork for non-profits and organizations. As we go through this time, I would love to do more work for small businesses affected by COVID and other community-based initiatives. Anyone who is reading is welcome to reach out!
What motivates you to keep hustling?
The work is something I have to do. I honestly have no specific reason; it’s just generally engrained in my personality and who I am.
Were there any specific skills you needed to start this project? Has your day job helped in developing those skills?
Like I mentioned earlier, learning 3D programs was a specific skill I needed to bring the character I had in my head to life. My day job – at least in the beginning of my career – played a huge role when I actually had downtime to explore, while surrounded by creative individuals. It also helped having the equipment at the office that I couldn’t afford so early on in my career.
Does your side hustle benefit your day-to-day work?
Not directly. I keep an art practice on the side so I never stop putting fingers on keys, getting my hands dirty and pushing myself to grow as an artist. But this has helped me take more creative chances in my role as an ACD. And as I move into more leadership and managerial positions, it’s something I plan to never let go of, as it will help shape my path as an industry leader in a very competitive landscape.
What have you learned since you began your side hustle? Has it evolved it evolved the years?
This list is huge. I am constantly learning and will never stop. My art has definitely evolved over the years both technically and conceptually. The appetite and culture have changed so much and that’s allowed me to bring Fuzzy Dude to life in partnership with brands in fashion, art, music, and more.
Is there any advice you’d give to young creatives & executives on how to pursue their passion projects on the side?
As funny as this sounds, I would say to not do anything. Take a minute, go for a walk, get offline. It’s in the moments after, when you do turn your mind back on, that things click. Some other obvious things after you take that break: take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Fall in love with failure—it means you’re moving.