I think we’re all feeling a little apprehensive about this New Year - seeing how the past two have gone. I’m going into this one trying to focus on things I can change. I want to realign myself because the pandemic has really thrown me off track.
I don’t usually do resolutions but I’m making some much needed changes to my life since this pandemic / lockdown / COVID Groundhog Day state of life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.
I’m doing at least 30 min of yoga every day - Yoga With Adriene is amazing, and free on YouTube. I’ve also decided to do a dry January for the first time every. I used to just be a social drinker but since the pandemic started it’s been creeping into an every night thing. Time to give my mind and liver a break. It’s also helping me be more present with the kids and less lazy in the evenings.
Reflections - How was 2021?
• A BIG one - This was the first year my gross income exceeded my office job! Hooray! So grateful that I can do what I love and make a living at it. Thank you to all my clients and supporters on social!
• Finished my first picture book - Strum and the Wild Turkeys by Noa Daniel. Noa and company have been an amazing team to work with.
• Finished my second kids book - A Firefly’s Journey by Kat D’Ambola and it won two Royal Dragonfly awards. Kat won 1st Place - Best New Author, Fiction and the book won 2nd place - Best Picture Book!
• Got hired for a third picture book by River Horse Publishing. Currently in the works.
• I also was a 2021 American Illustration 40 Chosen Winner for Taco Bell “Dream”
• Started work on a fantastically artistic project by musician Suresh Singaratnam. He was awarded a Canadian Arts Grant to hire me to create imagery to go along with four songs he composed. I hope to be able to share it with you in 2022.
• Learned and grew on social. I started creating reels, doing more video, and launched a TikTok where I basically repurpose my Instagram content. I’ve also got a TikTok for my NFT journey that I’m using more like TikTok should be used.
• Did an octopus mural in my bathroom while weather was cold. Then created a dragon mural for a client that was a mix of spray and latex paint. I still aim to up my spray skills.
• Illustrated the COVER of Owl Magazine for October’s halloween issue!
• Lots more fun illustration projects like the cover of Hummingbird by Fran Grant
• Began learning more about Crypto currency and the Metaverse. Started working towards an NFT project with my Geeky Pet cats - dropping early 2022.
• Launched my first downloadable contract template on my shop and it was a hit! Thank you to everyone who purchased it and found it useful.
• Completed a major gut and addition of our dark kitchen. Tore down an unheated sunporch, turned junk room and extended the kitchen into it. Brightened it up with giant windows on two walls and now it’s like living in the backyard year round. Definitely helping with my mental health, and we all love our new squirrel friends (especially Pumpkin.) I was terrified to start such a huge and expensive project, but it has been so worth it. I have no regrets.
• My Mom passed away from COVID this September. She was double vaccinated but was immune compromised - on chemo fighting lymphoma and lupus. It’s been so rough, she was my best friend and I miss her every day. This was the year I became an adult orphan. It’s strange not having parents around to root for me or give me advice.
• The never-ending pandemic in general. I think we’re all exhausted from it.
• Started personal projects like a series of patterns on Society 6 but lost focus and follow through. I’m definitely a creative who suffers from “shiny new thing” syndrome. I love the excitement of learning and doing new things and have trouble taking the time to build something through to completion. Consistently inconsistent should be my motto.
• Conventions still aren’t really a thing here in Canada. There was a Fan Expo Light that I probably could have attended with my Geeky Pet art - but I wasn’t feeling safe enough with the pandemic at the time. It’s made me kinda lose interest in creating more Geeky Pet pieces. Conventions and meeting fans really fires me up creatively. However, I think taking the brand in this NFT direction may revive the spark. I also want to take the brand in a more cat-centric, less pop culture parody direction.
• NFT Collection - already working on this one. First collection is called Chonky Cats by Geeky Pet. I’ve been learning and recording my journey into the exciting NFT space. You can follow along with me on TikTok and Twitter - @GeekyPetNFT
If you’re an artist, especially a female artist, I highly recommend researching and getting into this space while it’s still fairly new. We’re a minority and I think it’s a groundbreaking new way to make money with your art. Plus, you can set a royalty for each piece that gets resold - more passive income! The process may seem complex, but there are a lot of other women on TikTok breaking it down into easy terms - and soon I will be too!
• Stop doom scrolling - Pre-pandemic I never used to follow the news. Figuring anything important enough would eventually find its way to me. Now I find myself seeking out news in a manic hunt for answers. It does nothing but trap me on my phone, waste my time, and increase my anxiety and depression. The news makes it sound like the world is on fire and makes me live in fear. I definitely have to distance myself from it again.
• Always learn and grow - I’m great at this one! I love learning new skills. I’ve always been a quick learner and love the confidence boost that comes with it.
• Consume less, create more - Scroll scroll scroll. I find myself consuming so much social media, yet when I close my phone I try to think back about anything I learned - and usually can’t remember much. I want to set a time limit on my consumption. So far I only watch TikTok on my lunch hour, and if I’m on the couch at the end of the day. But I definitely have to stay on top of myself.
• Choose projects I love / “No” to crappy ones - If I’m not feeling the project, it definitely comes through in the work. This year I actually passed up a project that would have possibly lead to a long term steady income. But the guy hiring me lit up so many red flags, and I’d get a knot in my gut every time I received an email from him. I trusted my gut on this one, and recently saw that his business folded. It’s a good feeling knowing you were right.
• Set and stick to boundaries / Quote with an abundance mindset - There are times when work is slow that I underprice myself out of desperation. I have to enter negotiations thinking that it doesn’t matter if I lose the job or not - what matters is that I price myself fairly - for myself and others in the illustration industry.
I also have to stop putting myself in my client’s shoes and pricing according to what I THINK they can afford. I AM NOT MY CLIENT - I’ve got to write this and post it on my wall.
• More investing and financial literacy - I’ve always been good with money. Especially after growing up with parents that were not. I’ve learnt from their mistakes. I still have a frugal student mindset, 20 years after graduating. However, there’s always room to improve. I’ve been using Wealthsimple for investing, dabbling in stocks and crypto. NFTs are new to the mix. I think the money world has been daunting for women for too long. I love the work sites like Her First 100k.com is doing to break down those barriers! I want to make my money work for me!
• Build more passive income streams - Courses, affiliates, digital assets - I actually just signed up to be an Amazon Affliliate while writing this blog! I figured, might as well make a little cut off of any products and books I’m recommending. There are so many options to have a few bucks rolling into my bank account every month.
Here’s my trickles of passive money so far:
- Skillshare Course : Watercolor Pet Portraits
… and I want to add more. They all take time to set up, but once they’re going it’s a “set it and forget it” type of situation.
• Aim for clarity - My mind is a muddled mess by the end of most days. I flip from project to project. I want to work on improving habits that keep me on track. Some ideas: setting only 3 things to complete every day. Sectioning off blocks of time on my calendar for different tasks - business in the morning, drawing in the afternoon. Maybe whole days of business, vs whole days of creative so I can get in the flow state. Will be experimenting with this.
Also - I want to keep things simple. I’m a perfectionist and it bogs me down. Done and out there is usually good enough.
• Teach, share, be empathetic and kind - I love imparting my knowledge in the creative industry. Will continue doing this. As for empathy - I am focusing on finding the good in people. Everyone is fighting their own internal battles and I want to work to see that. There’s enough negativity in this world without me adding to it. My Mom was also great at not judging people. She’d talk to anyone and wasn’t afraid to put herself out there. I want to keep her memory alive by doing more of that too.
Already put this into action: I saw people being abusive to a nurse at our local vaccine booster clinic. After getting my shot I bought some chocolates, returned, gave her a hug and told her “This rollout seems like it’s been really tough on you. Your team has always been so kind to me and my family every time we come by.” I handed her the chocolates, said thank you and let her know her work was appreciated. She teared up and said “you made my day - there were some 20 year olds who were so awful to me today. Thank you.”
It felt so good to be kind, I was glowing all day. You should try it too!
• Spend more on my business (without fear) - This is so hard for me (see note about being frugal above) I believe that if I would just spend on easy tasks - like uploading my artwork archive to a drop shipping site - it would take pressure off of me, and allow me to grow my business and free up time to create more work. I don’t know how to get past this. Maybe like the lottery says “set a limit and play within it.” It’s also a challenge with the up and down income of freelancing.
• Outsource tasks - Again, I struggle with thinking I have to do everything myself. It would be faster and probably cheaper to hire a virtual assistant.
• Newsletter - 1x month - This goal is back again for another year! Agh. Time to actually take action on it. My first strategy is to tie it to my blog posts. Use my social posts and newsletter to redirect to my blog post - giving me long form content and increasing my site traffic and SEO. Three birds with one stone!
• Get and stay organized - If the house is a mess, so is my mind. Plus my digital clutter - I get anxiety just thinking about cleaning up my hard drive. Never mind the incessant social posts that are in my camera roll. Eek! Definitely have to work on this little by little and stay on top of things constantly rather than letting them pile up like a hoarder.
• Be fearless! - I highly recommend reading “The Confidence Code” I learned that women generally overthink everything and hold ourselves back through our own fear. We think things have to be perfect and we have to know everything about a subject before we start anything. I want to move past this mindset and just jump into things, learning along the way. I have gotten MUCH better about this but I still manage to get stuck in the mud occasionally.
• Make more art, not just business crap! - I think this speaks for itself. Days can go by without me even picking up my stylus. Here’s to more creating and less emailing.
So here we go 2022! I’m coming for you!