It’ sure has been cold hasn’t it? It’s a new year and that means new resolutions, new plans, and hopefully lots of new ideas. I usually start the year with such good intentions, and then they start to fizzle out by March (and that’s generous). This year, instead of making resolutions like “blog more” or “draw more” I really wanted to figure out concrete ways I could add more to my writing and illustrating life this year. With a full-time job, it’s often hard to find the time or the will power to commit to something like “draw everyday” or “write everyday”. To be honest, that would be awesome. Knowing myself, it is also highly unlikely that will ever happen.
One idea I came up with for the blog is Work in Progress (or WIP as we said in art school) Wednesday. This is not an original idea by any means, but it appealed to me as a way to take a break in the middle of the week and just take stock of where I am and where I am going. Plus, it’s fun to share in progress pictures with all of you!
Of course, I am working extra hours in January at the day job, so that means I don’t have any pictures to share this week. However, as I was thinking of what to write today, it occurred to me, aren’t we all works in progress? (Yep I know that is super cheesy) Many of us are constantly striving to be better versions of ourselves today than we were yesterday.
This got me to thinking about my progress as a writer and an illustrator in the last couple years. 3 years ago, I went to my first NJ SCBWI event. I had been a member for 2 years already, but that was the first event I convinced myself to go to. The people there were so kind and so generous with their advice and friendship that I immediately realized that the kidlit community was the right place for me. The next year I got up my courage to go to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC, and participated again in an NJ SCBWI illustrator event. Last year, I went to the same conference again, participated in the next version of the NJ SCBWI illustrator event, went to my first ever NJ SCBWI Conference (amazing! Highly recommend it!), joined 12×12, joined a writing group, submitted my first query, got my first rejection from said query and wrote 14 picture book drafts. (That was a mouthful!)
Looking back at my years like this was the first time I realized that I have been building towards this dream of mine to be an author/illustrator consistently for the last 3 years, and each year I’ve built a little more than the last. Were there rough patches in there? Sure! And there is still a lot of work to do. I’m still working towards publication. But making myself an “I Did List” instead of thinking of what there still is to do has made me realize, I really have made a lot of progress this past year towards my goal.
So for this year I want to build on that by looking for new opportunities to grow. I am going back to both the NY and NJ SCBWI conferences this year and I’ve already signed up for 12×12. (If you are writing picture books, this is a great group to be a part of!) I’ve started listening to podcasts. (The Creative Pep Talk is great, I highly recommend it). I’m going to doodle at work. I’m going to write on the train. Most of all, I am going to enjoy the process, even when it’s hard, by remembering that I am taking steps towards my goals.
As a work in progress, I’m glad to have made progress in 2016! I’m also going to keep making “I did lists” to remind myself throughout the year that I am making progress. You should too!
“It’s not just about creativity, it is about the person you are becoming while you’re creating.” – Charlie Peacock
I found this quote while procrastinating on Pinterest this afternoon. It really struck a chord with me, because it really sums up how I feel this week changed me. I know that seems crazy, a week changed me? Did that much really happen this week?
In short, yes. I have never taken a week off before and just dedicated to my art career. Let me tell you, I fell in love with the freelance life. Yes I freelance part time anyway, but to fully be immersed in my dream career? It was amazing. I don’t have very many stressful projects right now, and I know freelancing isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but for the first time in my life, my eyes were open to the knowledge that I really could freelance full time. Not financially at this point, but mentally I am totally ready. There is nothing like waking up and knowing there is nothing on the agenda for the day except creating.
So what does my life look like as a freelancer? I got plenty of sleep, exercised, ate well, and made art everyday. I think the routine of it was what really sold me. You can get so much more done with your time when you do the same thing every day. There was none of the pressure of: if I don’t get this done today, I won’t be able to work on it again for a week. Instead, if I didn’t finish something I could work on it again the next day. And that was empowering to me as an artist.
I know if I did do this full time there would be all nighters, times where I was stressed about where the next paycheck was coming from, clients who were stressful or didn’t understand what I did, and periods where I just felt uninspired. There would be times where I couldn’t exercise, where sleep wasn’t a priority, where I would have to spend days with the business side of things instead of creating. But these things happen anyway. There are weeks when I come to the blank page and I just don’t know where to go. There are times when I am frustrated with what a client wants me to do or the time frame in which they want me to do it. There are times when I come home late from my job and go right to the computer to finish that project that is due the next day.
However, I still would love to do it at some point in my life. I would love if that point in my life is sooner rather than later. Because by taking this week and really focusing on me and my art, I got a glimpse of the person I could become. And that was exciting!
You are all wondering, so what did you get done this week? This is supposed to be a recap after all!
Well here is what I got done this week:
I completely revamped my website. What does that look like? Gathering files, scanning pictures, getting everything internet ready, writing a bio, finding the best way to showcase my art, and starting a blog where I could write again. And you can see the results of all that work by browsing my website (Which you are currently on)
I finished a project creating tags and posters for an up and coming clothing line. This didn’t take too long, but it was great to cross a project off the list of things to do.
I finished a new portfolio piece. Have you looked through my art yet? You’ll notice this image in the digital children’s illustration portfolio:
This piece was a result of a drawing challenge I did with my facebook followers over the last couple of months. It was great to add color to it and make it really come to life! Also, I haven’t created a new portfolio piece in awhile so it felt good to add something new to the portfolio.
I also got 1/3 of the way through creating the images for my 2016 calendar. Usually I’m in a panic to finish it by December 1st so people can give it as a Christmas present. I’ve already surpassed myself in how long this usually takes me. Here’s a little preview of each of them:
So I was really happy with how far I got this week. It was great to pick up the paintbrush and try my hand at watercolors again. I was relieved that I finally got my new website up (That has been on the to do list for 2 years). And I was really happy to get a new portfolio piece done.
So what’s next for me? Well I am going to continue working on my calendar. I am going to continue working on new portfolio pieces. And I am going to continue blogging.
This week was great for me. Now I just have to figure out how to fit all the great things I’ve been doing around my two other jobs. Because as great as this week was, it won’t mean anything if I can’t keep up with it while still going to work. Will I get as much done each week? No. But if I can keep creating art and taking care of myself, I will definitely have accomplished what I set out to do with this week. What it comes down to is, I like the person I am when I am creating. I am focused, I am positive and excited for the future. That is something worth holding on to.
And now, back to the painting table!