(NOTE: AMP stands for Art, Meditation, and Physical Fitness. It is my personal formulation for self-improvement and this is the third year I have really focused on making it my reality. And this is the story of what happened in Year Two and half off Year Three.)
Looking back over the past year and a half, all I can say is "WOW!" Over that time I have managed to accomplish a number of things, many of which I will likely overlook, and even more which are not as important as others. So I want to briefly provide a bulleted list of where I have been over this leg of the journey. (Spoiler: that bulleted list thing is a lie.) Then I want to set forth a few goals for the rest of this year and note some important upcoming things.
Last year was an amazing year for artistic growth and most of this year has been a fantastic application of what I learned and a good initial jaunt into art as business. I decided that I was going to go to the 1FWeek Workshop and that I'd structure my year in preparation for that event. To that end I started and completed Noah Bradley's Art Camp 1, in the self-paced format. It was a great experience, as I created far more art than I have anytime in the past. The lack of community was a bit disheartening, but I managed to explore and engage in some other communities and grow nonetheless.
The process of doing the exercises gave me content to post both here and on my social media accounts. This lead to gaining a bit of visibility and even getting a commission for an environmental concept piece for a friend who was creating a short student film. I abandoned my last Art Camp 1 assignment in May of 2015. Somewhere along the way, I also jumped into the Magic Box training from the Oatley Academy with the intent of working through it and Art Camp 2 before the workshop. But I think I was just fatigued and needed a break, because I didn't get very far into either one of those before…
I decided to change gears entirely by focusing on finishing up the comics projects I had been toying with. So in June, I started focusing on finishing off the comic "418" and started publishing it through Tapastic. I managed to publish one page a week throughout the rest of 2015, which terminated in a successful first Kickstarter in early 2016.
In addition to the weekly 418 pages, I was also creating images for songs being made by the band Black Static Line and published through SoundCloud. Interestingly enough, this led to a couple orders for prints for one of these, "Trireme," and selling an original watercolor images for another. I wasn't prepared for making prints, so it was a bit more expensive than what it should have been, so thanks again to you for supporting me!
While all that was going on, I was also working on figuring out what my image for the workshop was going to be. The theme was to be "Heroic Journey" - a very broad theme to be sure. And I started trying out different ideas but settled for the final confrontation from my Last Manicorn story.
And then, it was time for the Workshop. It was an amazing event, one which I will be going to again this year. I met some amazing people doing amazing things. I was pushed to revisit my idea and communicate more of the core story to Last Manicorn. The result was way more than I thought possible… and fairly stressful. I also learned a lot of information on social media strategies, how to create a basic convention setup (sub-$100), how to inject story into images, and run a Kickstarter. I also gained insight into my trajectory through (very nervous) consultations with Sean Andrew Murray, Sam Flegal, and Peter Mohrbacher. I'd like to give credit to the workshop for the success I experienced afterward: An increase in followers across most of my social media platforms, the successful Kickstarter, ordering prints, and successfully conducting two of my first conventions ever.
After the workshop, I finished off 418 and subsequently released the other comics that I had been sitting on featuring art from my buddy E.G. Bivins and writing from yours truly: Jenny Everywhere and Space Patrol.
During that time I conducted my Kickstarter. It was an emotional draining experience. For a first Kickstarter, I really set my goal way too high. I have some justification for it, but I really should have gone for something at about half that level. I got the books back just in time for me to hit up a couple of conventions - and as my lowest priced item, it sold fairly well.
Overall, I'd call my "first year" experiences with these conventions a success. I went there and made enough from sales to pay for my table and a combo meal. But that was about it, as both of them had really low attendance - one a first year con and the other an older and smaller one. My sales game was pretty decent and got honed, but I would have liked to see more of a crowd at both.
After finishing up the conventions, I was exhausted and just kind of chilled out. I kept sketching and working on new ideas for paintings, but very little has been finished. At the current time I am releasing a comic that I did back during college, working on the final rewards for the Kickstarter, and working through creating more images for my painting series. I've also been doing some more writing to get the next installment for my comics ready. I've also had increasing responsibilities that have nothing to do with AMP.
Meditation remains a vital glue that stabilizes me and makes all the crazy shit tolerable. Without it, I am lost and emotionally unstable. And I would like to report that my physical fitness is in a much better place, but I'm currently recovering from a stress fracture in my foot and so I haven't been able to get into my weight program as I wished. I'm still doing a modified diet and a modified weight program, but it seems like it is really slow going.
So that wraps up where I have been over the past year and a half, so where am I headed for the rest of the year?
I'd love to say that I have charted out some very specific goals, but I can't. Most everything that I've accomplished and focused on have been carryovers from last year. Also the changes in responsibility and work-travel arrangement are also throwing my established patterns into complete chaos. So I guess getting that figured out and under control will be my first goal… ha!
What I do know is that I want to make images that make me laugh or entertain me in some way. To that end I want to learn a more style that leans more toward caricature than realism, but with a definite eye towards rendered forms and textures. Heck, I don't even know artist names of the style I'm thinking about - they exist, I'm just ignorant.
So here's some loose goals for the remainder of the year for AMP:
- Lose 25 pounds
- Learn cartooning
- Work through the Magic Box
- Identify 3 or 4 local high volume conventions for 2017
- Establish a new schedule to compensate for work-travel changes
- Complete a new painting each month
- Successfully juggle all the demands on my time and keep some for my discretionary use
Got thoughts for me? Share them below!