It’s getting to be the end of the year, which means I’m thoughtful of where the year’s gone (too fast!) and where I want to go next. Overall, it’s been a good year but also one of the toughest years of my creative practice yet. But I still feel very lucky, if creatively a bit beaten up; I finally got my best friend to Portland, we got married and celebrated with the biggest explosion of art I could’ve hoped for (thanks so very much Join Together friends!), was really honest with myself, pushed a lot outside my comfort level and worked on a lot of different projects (much of which I can’t show, bummer!), and as my teaching career evolves I’ve been happy to educate and mentor the next wave of illustration. They’re making me proud and inspiring me to be the best maker I can be.
So with that in mind I’ve crafted a short list of professional goals to tackle. My actual list is quite long, but these are the best ones to share.
Don’t shoot down personal work unless there’s a solid reason; I have second guessed my work too much this year and I need to have faith in my abilities and work.
Seriously, don’t be afraid of what I can do. I have to say it twice.
Keep more accountable— with my collaborators, with friends, with emails, with my rep. Be better with the business side of things.
Continue redesigning my website and shop, and plan out collections of new work for craft fairs/shops.
Reflect on my work, work I enjoy, my students’ work. Really push curiosity and learning in my practice.
Keep refilling the well and practicing my conceptual chops— looking outside the illustration world and finding more inspiration in the world.
Relatedly, find an opportunity to travel in 2014— ideally Iceland! I want to go someplace foreign to me and rejuvenate my practice.
Target goals to tackle each quarter and keep reviewing: for Q1, I want to push my compositions (particularly with space), experiment more with looseness to bring the vitality of my sketchbook into the finished work, draw more settings and props, get back to printmaking/limited palette work, and return to more narrative work. In addition I’d really like to develop a passion project that challenges these goals.
It’s time for me to wrap up things and close the studio down before I head back to Connecticut for a week. I hope you all have a lovely holiday, and I’ll catch you in 2014 with lots of happy news and work!
Well, I’m a week or so late with this, but I have been thinking pretty hard with how last year went and how I hope this year will go. 2012 was a tumultuous year for sure— filled with good and bad things-death, teaching, new friendships, new challenges, travel, sickness, and other major life changes (like getting engaged and ending the long distance relationship experience), and my highest hope is that 2013 is crazy, but in a wonderful way. I think it will be. Lucky 13, right? Last night we rung in 2013 like we rang in 2011 when I first moved up to Portland, and while it was more thoughtful and bittersweet this year, I’m wholeheartedly excited for what this year can/will bring.
So, I’ve been writing and revising lists trying to sort out what I am aiming for in 2013. I intend to print this list out and affix it above my desk so I can see what I’m shooting for. My driving motto for the year I suppose must be: be ruthless, cut the fat. So many things I accumulate out of guilt, hang onto for sentimentality, waste time over or keep wondering about— and it’s not healthy. As this year marks the thirtieth year I’ve been on the planet, I want to celebrate that birthday feeling a little more grown up and wise. I was thinking how over the last few months I’ve finally started to feel a little comfortable in my skin, but now I want to thrive and not hold myself back by procrastinating, fear, or any of those little distractions.
Anyway, this is my list. I’m sure some of these things ring true for all of you too— let’s work together and keep accountable this year.
Get back to an actual exercise regimen. I have lost 20lb since moving to Portland, which is kind of crazy when you think about it— but sitting in a chair for so many hours a day has led to bad posture, back pain and weak core muscles. I want to be more fit and healthy in general. May go back to yoga, may try a rock climbing course, we shall see.
Level up with cooking. I’m in a bit of a cooking rut, but I do enjoy the act of cooking. Want to eat more healthful food, more vegetarian meals, etc.
Make time for downtime. I work a lot and I love it, but I need to learn to be okay with taking breaks for non-art adventures and relaxing.
Get more organized and cull the junk out of my life.
Read more. My childhood self would be disappointed that I’m reading more blogs than books.
Be a grownup and really have a good handle on finances and my budget, and treating my business as a business.
Plan wedding stuff without it getting to me. I’m being ambitious about some things (curating a gallery show to coincide with it? Sure. DIY illustrated photobooth? Fantastic!) but I want to have a blast and not feel crazy about all that stuff people get obsessed about.. I just want to ring in this new phase of life and feel thrilled without being broke in the process!
Somehow, do more traveling and be better about documenting it. International travel may have to wait til 2014— I really wanted to travel to Scandinavia for my 30th birthday but I think I might just ‘double date travel’ with my best friend and her husband after our lives settle down this year.
Perhaps document my life better too. After reading the new Jim Henson book, I realized my life passes by in a blur too often and I’m too forgetful already!
Follow up with existing clients and potential ones. I sent out a great promo pack last year and got some promising nibbles. I want to get more and turn those into tangible projects.
Keep on the same page with my rep more frequently and act as a team.
Fix my email problems. I’ve been lax on emails (if you’ve emailed me and I didn’t respond, I’m sorry!), partially due to combining email accounts into Gmail and then being overwhelmed by the clutter and the disorganization. I need a new mail client I think, so I need to look into this and also just build better habits.
Revisit the idea of collections when making work.
Be okay with making ‘stupid projects.’ I can’t think of a good term for this, but what I really mean is: making purely personal work that strikes my fancy. They don’t need to be giant projects. They don’t need to be for some lofty professional goal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sketched something just for fun and then given up finishing because I didn’t think it was good or important enough. Sketches, you are my abandoned children. I’m sorry— I want to give you a fighting chance to exist.
Continue to play. I have done a lot of play in my work this year— I can 100% attribute that to teaching. My students have gotten so into learning how to mix media and in having to teach them things like collage or digital/analog processes, it has urged me on to think differently and I love them for that. I want to expand this into more dimensional work. Cut outs/paper craft. Embroidery. Wood/painted sculpture. Textiles. Installations or stop motion. Really branching out and seeing where I can take this.
Revisit my website. I’ve been itching to redesign/retool it for a while now.
Organize the wedding gallery show. We have…65+ people on board— and not having curated since 2005, I’m a little rusty. I am debating if I want to create a small sequential series of pieces to go with it?
Mail out the existing promo packets— they’ve been sitting sad and dormant in my studio.
Look seriously into group studio spaces for whenever we move. I’ve really missed having a communal space with other likeminded folk working, working, working. Also, I really want a screenprinting base.
Reopen the shop and consider if I do another craft fair event, plan that as a collection early on.
Practice: lettering, composition, vector work, limited palettes, patterns, character design.
2014 calendar print of some kind! 2013’s calendar was so close, darn error.
Work with a space to do installation work (I have a venue already!) and play with space.
Work on new and existing collaborations.
Be the best teacher I can be and revel in the successes, not dwell in the failures.
Work more narratively— write more stories, figure out short narrative images. Play with research and making interesting metaphors.
Work quicker and smarter, be realistic. Less giant projects to get overwhelmed by and give up on— more shorter contained things. Constraints.
Daily sketchbook warmup— draw from life, draw from prompts, loosen up and play with purpose.
Try to create three different approaches: one purely linear, one akin to my screenprints in limited palette/overlays, and one fully colored/textured.
Well, I guess it’s a lot of goals in reality. But summing it up, I want to really evolve myself as a person and a maker— working smarter, thinking differently, attacking things with vigor but in a mindful sort of way. Even more so, I need to be ruthless and keep only the things that matter. Somehow that would make me think I need to do less, not more, but that’s not how I roll!
Happy 2013 to all of you— and thank you all for following me this far. I’ve been freelancing for more than seven years and it means so much to get this far and know that other people enjoy the process along with the actual work. I can’t wait to share the future with you.