*blows dust off blog* Damn, I really have neglected this space for too long haven’t I.
2019 is just a couple of days away so it’s time to reflect as we look back at we’ve accomplished this year, and forward to what the near future could have in store.
I’m not gonna lie. 2018 was a pretty tough year for me. For the past couple of years, I’ve lived in a very hectic routine as I juggled between my day job, which can get quite emotionally-draining, and freelance work for which I’m very passionate about. Add that to the regular IRL stuff and you barely get any time for yourself. In 2018 I made the mistake of dwelving too deep into the self-sacrifice hole. The result: extreme burnout culminating in a mental breakdown and two months of sick leave (so far).
Perhaps one day I will write more about my burnout story, in hopes that it’ll help others who might be going through a similar experience (and raise awareness for those who are not). But the road to recovery has been long and difficult. And even though my breakdown happened really recently, the symptoms of burnout have been there for a lot longer and it shows in my art summary for the year. There have been some really productive months in 2018, but also a few when I wasn’t able to finish a single project. Case to say, this year has really been quite the bumpy ride.
Of course, there are also some very good things to point out. My Patreon grew considerably and I managed to reach a few goals thanks to that. I was able to invest in some new tools, a couple of books about sculpting, and packaging supplies to help and build my brand. I also did my first Patreon exclusive campaign, featuring the Enchanted Starlight Rose necklace shown above, which was an absolute blast!
And by the way, this year I didn’t only sculpt. I also did some digital art, which you can see down below (in no particular order), or in this twitter moment with more detail! Although I don’t have a lot to show for it in quantity terms, I did notice considerable improvement between my earlier and my most recent pieces, so that’s another small victory. I started my Mythical Creatures colouring page series, however I only managed to make two pages – the Moon Rabbit and the Siren – before my Patreon exploded and I had to turn my focus to other things. I hope I can pick this project back up sometime next year.
On Instagram, I have checked my top 9 posts of the year as it is customary for me. Curiously, two of these posts featured digital art of mine, one was a WoW screenshot, and there’s also a client’s picture of one of the very few commissions I managed to work on this year. Instagram has been a very unpredictable platform for me due to its shady algorithm, and not easy to manage and grow because BOTS GALORE. But while it does get frustrating at times, I’ve also enjoyed sharing my works and some behind-the-scenes there.
So, what plans and goals for 2019?
To be honest, it’s a wee little difficult for me to make plans during this time, as I am still recovering from burnout and there’s no telling when I’m going to be 100% back on my feet. I’m taking it slow for now. But there are definitely some things that I would love to work on and accomplish next year. It might not be easy for me to fulfill them but I will still give it my all, within my limits.
Go for that career change. This is currently my highest priority (besides resting and catching up with my art queue). After everything that’s happened in the last few years, I feel like I need a fresh start. I’ve always wanted to pursue an artistic career, and I never had the chance- until now. My corporate day job has of course played an important part in my life and I’m grateful for everything it has taught me and blessed me with. Sadly, fulfillment is not among those things. And after my breakdown I can’t definitely go back to working fulltime and freelance at the same time, lest I have a relapse. So I have to make a choice, and I have to think about myself. This is something me and my boyfriend have discussed and planned for months now. I know fulltime freelancing can be extremely tough and a lot more unpredictable in every aspect. But I’m still willing to give it a try, as soon as I’m able to make the shift.
Learn, learn, learn. Obviously, knowledge and education will be a powerful tool while changing fields, so I plan on taking classes as soon as possible. I am currently gravitating towards a part-time jewelry design course in a local school, as well as purchasing a few online courses on sculpting and other related things. My ultimate intention is to expand my skills to metalsmithing and figurine sculpting and, who knows, create an unique concept for my brand (this is not a specific goal for 2019 but something to work on for the mid-term future). I also hope to be able to make some new contacts and connections while studying. This will be challenging due to my timid, introverted nature, but so important if I’m to be successful.
Expand to new jewelry types and other media. If you follow me for a while you’ve probably realized that most (if not like 90%) of my creations tend to be necklaces. That’s cool because necklaces are usually one of the most sought out types of accessories, but also not-so-good in the sense that it makes it harder for me to grow as an artist and grow an audience! So in 2019 I want to try some different things; maybe a few bracelets and rings, or new earrings, journal covers, trinket boxes, magnets, figurines? The possibilities are endless! I won’t be able to tackle them all in one year for sure, but I will be choosing a few to approach as the year goes by.
Revamp this website and give it some new life. Blogging can be such a powerful tool to connect with your audience, I feel silly not to make use of it more often! My gallery is in desperate need of an update as well.
Revamp my Patreon, too. Once again! Patreon is constantly evolving and so are my skills, so it’s important to keep the platform updated in order to reflect the latter. A small tier list update is in order, especially when it comes to physical rewards. I would love to invest in custom, eco mail packaging for the Ranger Captain tier surprise mail. I will also be setting more specific rules for surprise mail and custom commission rewards (no details yet, still thinking about it). When it comes to crafting, physical rewards can get really costly and it’s common for the earnings not to compensate the investment. So we need to find better balance here.
I would also like to make a new campaign for Patreon exclusives. Maybe bring the Enchanted Starlight Rose back as well, considering its success.
But most importantly, go slower on myself. Freelancing can be awesome and fulfilling, but also a huge challenge for perfectionists like me. If you also tend to set really high expectations of yourself then you probably know what I’m talking about. We all have expectations in our lives and it is good to have high standards, but when we set the bar too high, disappointment is inevitable- over and over again. For me, this came in the form of my own deadlines being recurrently unmet, which only contributed to my eventual breakdown. I am currently learning to have more realistic expectations, and I intend to bring this mindset with me into the new year.
Overall, 2018 has been an extremely challenging year with some really good things along the way but ending on a very sour note. It’s taking a while but I’m slowly getting better. In my head, the new year is just a number and definitely not a magical reset but, considering the timing of recent events, I cannot help but feeling hopeful for whatever 2019 brings. Thank you so very much to all who have supported me, and for believing in me and my goals.
2 thoughts on “2018 Art Summary & Plans for 2019”
Oh, Ari, I can sympathize with the burnout feeling. Work consumed my life from April until mid-November and I missed out on so much happening around me. I even fell into my old habit of not paying attention to the effects it was having on my health. However, even during times like these, I’m thankful for what I learned, became aware of the burnout (what led to it, what caused it, etc) and took time to “fix” it – progress not perfection, meditation, and mindfulness.
I am looking forward to seeing, and reading, your posts this coming year. ❤ You're a fantastic writer and it reads as if you're talking to me in person! Love it. 🙂
You're so strong and such an inspiration… -hugs- I wish you all the best this coming year!
Bela ❤ sorry it took me an entire age to reply to this. So much for "using my blog to connect more with the audience" haha!
Thank you for your time reading this long post and I'm both glad and sorry you found it relatable. We've talked about this via DMs and I
still hope things keep on getting better for you. It's a long journey but you did great by looking into the real reasons behind circumstances. Meditation and mindfulness definitely help! 🙂
All the best to you my dear!