Extremely Belated Happy New Year and Goals for 2014

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First of all, Happy New Year!

My holidays were a bit hectic and spent driving all over the Midwest, so it’s taken me some time to get back into my routine and to collect my thoughts on 2013 and my ambitions for 2014.

How did I do on my goals from last year?

1. Finish my graphic novel adaptation.
This first goal I did not meet, although I spent a good deal of time pursuing an actual publishing deal with the graphic novel. I have, however, been doing a lot of recipe comics that I feel really good about. They also help contribute to my second goal from last year.

2. Add more food and lifestyle illustration to my portfolio.
Achieved! The lifestyle illustration I’ve added leans more in the editorial direction, but I have added a lot of new work in both categories, including recipe comics.

3. Get hired to do more whiteboard illustration/video scribing.
This was also achieved. Not much to explain and unfortunately nothing I can share publicly just yet, but I did 3-4 of these of videos last year.

4. Experiment and make things with my hands.
I didn’t achieve this in the way I thought I would last year, but I did take a figure sculpting class which I loved. It felt great to be working from a live model again and even better to be working with my hands.

5. Develop alternate revenue streams.
This is a tough one and I can’t say I did this. I still sell prints and originals and I created some Recipe Comic Holiday Cards but I wouldn’t necessarily call these revenue streams just yet. Still building!

So, how about 2014? What’s in store?

Big things, I think. My work has been growing by leaps and bounds and I hit an ambitious income goal I had set for myself, so I’m going into this year with more confidence than I’ve ever had. I’m in the process of sending out some promo postcards and I’m ready to hit it hard!

1. I would like to have a greater portion of my work come from editorial clients.
I love the excitement of a new editorial assignment. While it doesn’t currently comprise a large portion of my client work, it is some of the most enjoyable work, in my opinion. Part of what I like so much about being an illustrator is the variation in projects and the occasional super-tight deadline to keep me thinking and keep me on my toes. I did add a couple of new editorial clients last year and I’m hoping for even more this year.

2. Be more consistent with promotional campaigns – both email and direct mail.
I was surprised to realize late in the year last year that I hadn’t done a single postcard! Time between direct mail and even email campaigns can fly by. This year I want to keep it more consistent. I don’t know if I will be able to afford 3-4 postcards in a year, but keeping my email campaigns more regular doesn’t cost me anything except time and organization.

3. Track and budget expenses more carefully.A couple of big expenses last year, including my Surface Pro, made my budget a bit lopsided. This year I’m not planning any big hardware purchases, so I want to keep a tighter leash on my expenses.

Other than these goals, I always have the infamous goal of “getting better.” While I realize it’s not a very concrete goal, I am always striving to improve my concept and technical skills and always trying to find time to experiment with both. My goals are very practical this year because I want to continue to build my career on a foundation that is growing more solid every day.

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Recipe Comic Holiday Cards For Sale!

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Many of you are probably already familiar with my recipe comics (if not, you can read them here). They are so fun to create that I thought I would do a couple of holiday recipes. I have now turned those holiday recipes into 2 accordion-fold greeting cards available for sale here.

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These cards are a great way to go  that little extra step to show someone how much you care. Why’s that? Because these cards contain the ingredients and instructions for two full recipes, meaning the recipient can keep them and use them forever! They are delicious recipes that I have used at home on several occasions and I’m sure you will like them too.

The cards fold down to 4.5″ x 5.5″ and come with an A6 size envelope and shouldn’t need more than a standard stamp to mail. They are available now on Etsy – buy them in sets to get a bit of a discount on the price as well.

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2013 Goals – Happy New Year!

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A week short, but I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and write a bit about my goals for 2013 and how I did on my 2012 goals as well.

The year started off right with a wonderful illustration workshop at the Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis. The workshop was taught by one of my favorite illustrators, Kali Ciesemier. It was great to meet Kali who is incredibly knowledgeable and is also generous with her knowledge and attention. I was fortunate enough to spend the entire weekend with a group of illustrators from around the country (and Canada). We talked about everything from promotion, websites, Photoshop techniques, and types of illustration to more introspective topics about what makes us happy and what kind of lifestyle we utimately want for ourselves. I came away with some great goals for the 2013 and I’ve already taken steps towards some of them.

First things first, though. Did I acheive the goals I set in 2012? You can see last year’s post here.

It looks like I acheived them for the most part. I didn’t create anything new for Denver Comic Con and my secret project hasn’t been launched. That project shifted a bit and is now something I’m working on for 2013. I definitely drew a lot more in 2012 and not only applied for residencies, but spent a month at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts working on a graphic novel project.

And now, on to goals for 2013:

1. Finish my graphic novel adaptation.
I have been working on a graphic novel adaptation of someone’s memoir since the middle of last year. I don’t want to say too much yet. It is currently under consideration at the original author’s publisher and once I know if they are interested it will allow me to make some decisions about what I want to do with it (take it to other publishers, self-publish, kickstart, etc.). I have also applied for a table at CAKE this year and hope to be able to sell the first few chapters of this book. Regardless of what the publisher wants, I want to finish the entire project in 2013.

2. Add more food and lifestyle illustration to my portfolio.
For much of my illustration career, I’ve been pursuing conceptual illustration in a big way. I’ve come to realize that that may not be the best route for my work. I would like to add more food and lifestyle illustration to my portfolio and begin pursuing more of that type of work.

3. Get hired to do more whiteboard illustration/video scribing.
In the last year and a half I have done a lot of whiteboard illustration (I don’t do the video production for videos, only the illustration). I find the work to be fun and challenging, and seeing the end result is always exciting. This year I will start by sending some examples of my work in this area to agencies I think might be interested and hopefully I can build a solid business on this type of work.

4. Experiment and make things with my hands.
I’ve purchased modeling clay and armature wire and I plan to start learning how to needlefelt. My goal is to try a lot of new things this year and maybe try my hand at sculptural illustration. Even if it doesn’t work for me, it sounds fun to try.

5. Develop alternate revenue streams.
Whether it’s more custom, original paintings, a different print fulfillment site, or handmade goods I can sell, I feel it would be valuable for me to develop some alternate ways of bringing in income. We are in the age of the entrepreneur and I want to take full advantage.

And there you have it. What are some of your goals for 2013? Did you acheive your goals for last year?

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and to thank you for following and sharing my work. I’m happy to have such wonderful followers and I wish you all success in your endeavors this year!

The Mighty Pencil Book Volume 2

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Yesterday I received my copy of Volume 2 of The Mighty Pencil Book. I’ve got a spread of my illustration in the book, along with 26 other incredibly talented illustrators. The book is beautifully designed and I’m so excited to be a part of it.

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So much great illustration in one place. Only a limited number of these books are available for sale and there may only be a handful left at this point, but head over to The Mighty Pencil store to grab yourself a copy before they’re gone!

Help Send Me to Tuscany with DaVinci Wines!

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I have some really great news. I have been chosen as a Fan’s Choice Finalist for the DaVinci Wines Storyteller Experience! If I am chosen as a winner I will be spending seven days in Tuscany to experience the people and the place behind DaVinci wines.

By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

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‘Eustace Tilley, Barista’ Chosen as a Winner of The New Yorker Contest!

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A few weeks ago I posted this illustration for The New Yorker’s 2012 Eustace Tilley Book-Bag Contest. In mid-January I learned that I was chosen as 1 of the 12 winners! My work won’t be on a Strand bag, but it is currently up on The New Yorker’s site and you can read their blog post about the winners here.

The Great Escape

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This is a piece I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks. My first intent was to create an illustration with a bicycle since I’ve never really drawn one before. I also wanted to create a very dramatic composition with equally dramatic lighting. Getting the right amount of color and contrast is something I have to work very hard at, so it’s nice to see those skills improving.

I may use this as a promotional piece at some point but I’m contemplating options other than just postcards.

This piece is available as a print from Society6.

Goals for 2012

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Okay, so this photo might not actually have anything to do with my goals for 2012, but it’s the holiday season and they look yummy, right? I made these a few nights ago and Chris and I are trying to keep from eating 4-5 a day.

After looking back at my goals from 2011, I’m pleased to report that I either hit all of them or hit a version of them that shifted as my life shifted.

Now that December is half over, it’s time for me to start thinking about the things I want out of 2012 for my illustration business. Here are some very specific goals:

* Launch my new (unfortunately secret) project in the first half of the year

* Create something new to distribute at Denver Con in the summer

* Draw from life more

* Start working in the publishing industry

I’ve also got some larger career goals:

* No free work – and don’t feel bad turning down underpaid jobs

* Make my promotions more targeted

* Apply for residencies & fellowships

* Experiment heavily and get more comfortable with my style of working

What goals are you setting for 2012?

APE 2011 Recap!

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I’m back from a wonderful weekend at APE in San Francisco and totally exhausted! The trip was a whirlwind but a lot of fun and it was great to meet 3 of my fellow Illopond contributors. Above is (left to right) Charlotte Cheng, Denver Wagner, and Samuel Kirkman. We had loads of books and prints for sale, including our latest anthology, Boo!, which is now available for sale at Indy Planet!

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Charlotte is very excited about our table.

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Our table was far too cluttered the first day, as you can see here. We rearranged for Day 2.

There was so much amazing work to see and a pretty decent crowd. This was my first experience tabling at a con and it was  solid one. I was fortunate enough to see Daniel Clowes and Adriane Tomine speak together and answer questions and Craig Thompson also spoke about his new book, Habibi, and his previous 3 books.

Daniel Clowes was surprisingly funny and he resembles many of the characters he creates. He’d make a great straight man in a comedy duo. Craig Thompson was funny too and I could really relate to his Midwestern upbringing.

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Craig-Thompson-APE-Habibi

I did my best not to spend too much money so walking through some of the aisles was a serious challenge.

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Chris Eliopoulos' "Okie Dokie Donuts" was calling my name at the Top Shelf table.

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The one purchase I did allow myself was the second volume of The Anthology Project. It is a really gorgeous book and I can’t wait to read it. The very friendly Jake Wyatt, one of the contributors, drew a lovely bird in the front of my book.

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This piece by Sam Bosma is what caught my eye in the first place.

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My custom drawing from Jake Wyatt

 

Hooray for my first con experience! And thanks to Sam, Denver, and Charlotte for their hard work and for being such fun people.

I do have some books and prints leftover (print selection is below). I have copies of the kid’s anthology, Boo!, and Fly Danny, Fly. I plan to set up a shop for all of these things very soon, but if you are interested in purchasing any of these (with my signature if you like!) then please get in touch. I’m offering a serious blue light special on multiple prints, so don’t be shy!

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The larger prints are 8x10 and the smaller prints are 5x7

Illustrated Truffles – New Promo Mailers

These yummy postcards and business cards showed up at my door yesterday! I’m still waiting on envelopes to start putting my mailing together, but I’m so excited to get them out. This is the first time I designed the artwork specifically as a promotional mailer and I am very proud of the results.

 

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And yes, those are real chocolate fingerprints that I made myself. Sometimes you have to suffer for your art.