A look back at 2016

Happy New Year! I know I'm not the only one who was impatiently waiting for 2016 to just get on with it and be over. I don't know that I've ever felt like that before but there were a number of challenges, frustrations, disappointments, grief, and anxiety this last year in both my personal and professional life - and in the world at large. It made the prospect of a new year something to really look forward to - in a thank god it's over kind of a way. Even if it's just in my head (which we know it is) I'm welcoming the idea of a fresh start. But of course no year goes by without good things too: fun memories, joy and laughter, new experiences, the return of Gilmore Girls. So I'm taking a minute before I start setting my goals for 2017 to look back at 2016 and give myself a little pat on the back for the things I'm really proud of from this past year as far as my work is concerned. Thanks for tagging along with me - I hope your fresh start of a new year is everything you want it to be.

In no particular order:

1. I was featured (and put on the cover) of Southwest Metro magazine's April issue. It was a fun and unexpected surprise and a great way to share my work with my local community.

2. We introduced my art collective, Pencil Parade, to the world! We'd been meeting and collaborating long before this but back in February we officially announced ourselves. And we have a lot of big things planned for 2017 (see #8).

3. In collaboration with my good friend Nicole I illustrated her self-published children's book, Favorite Part of My Day. It was an awesome experience that gave me a chance to "try on" one of my long-time dreams. And there are about a thousand or so copies floating around out there in people's homes (and in public libraries) so that's pretty incredible.

4. In regard to my artwork I tried to stretch myself and add some new things (and new skills) to my portfolio. I continued painting (watercolor and gouache) which I really love and I worked a lot on hand lettering this year, creating a number of greeting cards and illustrated quotes. I'm constantly refining my style and I feel like I had more moments of "Yes, that's it!" this year.

5. I tried to get my work out into the world more! That meant a lot of sharing on social media (Instagram mostly) and submitting my work to companies, online blogs and publications, and magazines. Back in April I had a bookmark in Uppercase magazine. You can bet I'm going to keep at this in 2017.

6. I got to see my illustrations come out on a calendar produced by Orange Circle Studio! I have yet to see it in an actual store but it's pretty exciting to know my artwork is reaching a larger audience.

7. I wanted to expand my Etsy shop this year so I added some new products and new art prints. It's been well received so I hope to continue doing this into the new year with more stationery/greeting card options and some customizable art prints. (I also love my new Land of 10,000 Lakes illustrated Minnesota piece which you can get as a print, a tea towel, or a journal.)

8. This one hasn't happened YET but in 2016 I made the decision and commitment to attend my first trade show, Blueprint, with my art collective in May. It's a big step for me and I'm hoping it will go well as I really make a push this year to make my illustration and design career become more successful.

Well now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Now to start making plans for 2017 . . .