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 . . .

Studio Tour (As Is)

I love to see inside people's homes. I'm a snoop at heart I guess. I like homes, I like decorating, and I like to get a peek at how people live. As an artist I especially delight in seeing other artists' studio spaces. I think most of us have this dream of a huge open studio in a beautifully renovated old building with tons of natural light streaming in through enormous windows. And then there's reality. Many of us work wherever we can carve out a little bit of space for ourselves. Whether it's a spare room, an attic, a basement (like me!), a corner of the family room, or the kitchen table once the dishes have been cleared, that's our space. I've wanted to do a proper "studio tour" for awhile as a way to share my space but I kept putting it off. I wanted it to be more finished, I wanted it to look better, be cleaner, have better furniture, maybe even have walls. I wanted appropriately amazing before and after photographs! But I decided this was ridiculous. This is where I work. It is what it is and I (mostly) love it and definitely appreciate it. It gives me space to do what I love so it's serving it's one true purpose. So when I got the itch to tidy it up on a nice sunny day earlier this week I decided it was time for a studio tour. I didn't do a thing to it except put junk away, vacuum (lots of spiders gave their lives for this), and move some random boxes out of the way. Welcome to my studio! left-side

My first space was a "craft room" on the second floor of our house, mainly used for sewing, crafts, and Christmas present wrapping. I loved spending time in my room. And, like all people inclined to craft and make art, I loved even more that I could leave everything OUT instead of hauling it back into a closet. Once my son (my third child) was born he inherited my room and I was left with an armoire in our living room. But when I started working more seriously as a designer and illustrator I needed a different kind of space. Working hodgepodge all over the house wasn't going to cut it. I decided to carve out my studio space in our unfinished basement. I took one corner by a largish window (I'm lucky our basement has windows) which overlooks a pretty little shade garden (and our air-conditioner!) I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted my space to look like and I collected images on a pinterest board. The first thing I did was paint the concrete walls and floor white.

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My husband helped with some electrical upgrades (more outlets, an overhead light). Most of the furniture we already owned: a desk from my first apartment, an old family dresser, cheap bookshelves from my teenage bedroom, and a hutch from my husband's grandparents. I did purchase some new pieces from IKEA as well: a "flat file" cabinet, a new desktop with trestle legs, a rolling cart, and a cool desk lamp (see source list below). I re-used curtains from my previous craft room, put down an old rug, hung peg board for storage, and made a huge bulletin board from a large piece of insulation foam covered in linen (see tutorial here). I also added as much lighting as the circuits would allow and hung clear bulb string lights from the ceiling beams. I recently purchased a sweet new desk chair after my cheap one started giving me hip pain, as if I needed another reason to feel OLD.

pegboard

leftlowview

bookshelf

jar

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I spend most of my daily work time down here. I do all my digital artwork on this computer, I fill my Etsy orders here, print things, and work on sewing projects. Down here in the studio I can find some quiet for things that require more concentration. I can also hide away when the kids are home and avoid the constant bombardment of "Mom? Mom! MOOOOMMM!" The only thing I don't do very often down here is painting and sketching. For some reason I typically do that upstairs (mostly in the kitchen), usually because I tend to do those things in the early morning, in the evening, and sometimes on the weekends. And I kind of enjoy doing that with everyone else bustling around me.

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There you have it! My humble studio! I of course always have plans for this space, you know, little luxuries like walls, heat. Someday I might get that dream studio but for now this is pretty great. Thanks for stopping by!

Source Info: Linnmon Tabletops (white)/IKEA Finnvard Trestle table legs (white)/IKEA Raskog utility cart (turquoise)/IKEA Alex drawer unit/IKEA Ranarp Work Lamp/IKEA Cube shelving unit (white)/Target Leather Office Chair (white)/Wayfair