Monday, January 26, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Well it's been quite a year. At almost this exact time last year I left my day job to pursue freelance illustration full time. The next day, I moved from NYC to Washington, DC. It was one of the more terrifying and stressful times of my life. Ack! But some really great things happened in 2014, and let's focus on those for now. Here are the highlights:

I exhibited at my first two conventions ever!
Here is my table at AwesomeCon DC, which I shared with the glorious Marc Scheff.

Here I am at my Illuxcon Showcase table. Illuxcon was inspiring and loads of fun. There was an embarrassment of wonderful art and lovely people there to meet and reconnect with. I was also thrilled to sell a lot of my drawings and even a painting. I will be back in the showcase again this year!

 I produced my first Sketchbook, containing sketches from my Russian Fairy Tales series.

I opened an Etsy store, where I sell original art and other products (like my sketchbook!), and an INPRNT store where I sell a selection of art prints.

I started a series of drawings based on the animals at the National Zoo, which, lucky for me, is a short walk from my home in DC.

I dipped my toe back into teaching by leading two art workshops for teenagers, one about book cover illustration and design, and another on mural painting. Here is a shot of the mural my students created, with the theme "Our World". It was awesome and I look forward to doing more teaching.

I did concept art for a film which will be based on an Irish folk tale.

I busted out my big brushes to paint a 40 foot long mural in a children's library.

I turned 30!

I illustrated and designed the covers for a Young Adult book series which will come out in 2015. This is Book 1 of the series.

And here is the cover for Book 2! I love that the main character is a strong young woman. Keep an eye out for these (and a third book in the works!) in the coming year.

I had the opportunity to move to Oakland, CA for four months, and have been getting lots of inspiration from the art scene and all the twisty trees.

I got to be a model for the Dazzle Camo clothing line designed by Stephanie Syjuco for The Workshop Residence in San Francisco. 

I got to meet sloths and feed them apples!!!

I designed my first game character - a kick-butt 11 year old girl! Fun!

And the biggest milestone of all - I got my first full PICTURE BOOK assignment from Cengage Learning in Australia, for which I just wrapped up the last of the 23 illustrations. Phew! I will have some images from this project up once I get the green light from the publisher that I can share them. Thanks to my agent at The Illustrators Agency for bringing me the project!

Lessons learned - Overall, even though I earned less than in the years when I had a day job, I feel that last year was more valuable than any previous year of my career. I took huge leaps forward in improving my art and gaining a wide variety of freelance experiences. I am also happy to be getting a lot of work that focuses on portraying strong female characters, and also work based on folk tales, as these are two of my major areas of interest. I am still getting used to the ebb and flow of freelance life - weeks can go by without new projects coming along, which is always nerve wracking, but I am learning to make use of those times through personal projects and networking.

There were moments when the fear of failure loomed so large that I felt frozen, immobilized by uncertainty. I recognize that these moments will come along every so often, and I have found that the best way to deal with them is to just make something. Anything. A drawing, some jewelry, bake some cookies - just do what you can to get up and be productive and then get back to work. I am also working on making and maintaining connections with people - the freelance experience can be a very isolating and lonely one, and it takes some extra effort to stay in touch. This has been a year of learning and challenges and growth and fun projects and frustrating projects. It's been harder than I ever imagined, but also more rewarding and full of wonderful surprises.

And now for 2015!

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