Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014: A Year in Pictures

This is me, right now. And Dozer, my cat.

As the caption says, it is glorious. I'm taking a rest - a self-enforced laziness. I feel like I should get up and do stuff, I have my to-do list filled with activities, yet they're getting ticked off so slowly.

YES. To sluggy-ness. It is so healing.

I know that a new western calendar year can mean a clean slate, but truth be told, I usually get depressed after Christmas is over. November and December mean lots of craft shows and art sales for me - it's really the one time of year I can dependably make an income from selling my artwork. And it's very exciting and rushed, but that means post-Christmas blues.

This year, after my busy-busy-busy season, I spent 10 days at my parents' home in Rochester, NY celebrating Christmas with my family.
My mom and older sister looking at a branch on our Christmas Day Walk. It was unseasonably warm for Rochester!

After so much nurturing energy, good food (including Thai, Indian, and Bar-B-Q restaurants), and being around people who have known me my whole life, it felt sad at first to return to regular life. And because my artist lifestyle is not the most predictable, a clean slate can be somewhat terrifying. I have to evaluate what worked and what didn't in the last year, and modify how I will make my living this year. But weirdly, I am not that worried about it. I think things will fall into place.

2014 RE-CAP

Last year was a very busy year, perhaps one of the busiest in terms of variety of activities.

I was a panel judge for a students' art award. That was fun. I had to quickly move to a new apartment after my old apartment's two chimneys caught on fire. I worked on illustration commissions:
An album cover I illustrated in linocut.

An extremely intense hand-embroidered portrait I did as a wedding present/commission.

I travelled to the SCBWI conference on children's books in NYC in February and was totally inspired.

I took a pastel class with Sarah Masters which I loved. Here's one of the still-lives I made:

Starting in April and continuing through the rest of the year, I did at least one or two craft shows per month. I ended up doing at least 20 craft shows/markets total this year.

In the summer I started re-invigorating the notecard business I had begun the previous fall. I printed 8 new card designs, made a catalog, and contacted more than 100 new stores - whew! I also read a lot of books, internet articles, and watched videos to learn how to run my business.

 I had a 2-person art show of my prints at Rivermont Studio in Lynchburg, VA in November:

I fulfilled a dream of mine to learn the technique of Moku Hanga (Japanese woodblock printing) by taking a class with Miwako Nishizawa. Here is the print I created from the class (I still have a lot to learn!):

In late summer, I sold out of my limited edition of 300 Golden Moth Illumination Decks! I re-formatted the files, updated the Handbook, and had a new (unlimited) batch printed in November.

I traveled to visit my family in Rochester twice and my boyfriend's family in Kentucky twice. In August I drove to Vermont for a camping-style wedding of a childhood friend (and on the way visited the Eric Carle Museum of the Picture Book - something else I've wanted to do for a long time!) Here is the wedding gift/commission I made for my friends (it got a little battered from being in the rainy cabin):
I illustrated the cover for my friend's Songbook. He reproduced lyrics and figured out the tablature for more than 250 songs!

I donated artwork and time to some art auctions and events. I cut back on teaching a lot, but taught a few printmaking classes, Etsy Seller workshops, and private art lessons. I worked two part-time jobs and quit one in March and the other in August. I was able to survive on art sales and teaching from September until right now (although that may be subject to change!)

You know what? I'm proud of myself. I worked really freakin' hard, and did some really fun things. But you know what was lacking last year? I didn't make that much new artwork. Okay, now that I am writing this post, I realize I created more than I thought I did. I did commissions and re-printed some pre-existing artwork, as well as made a couple new things, but there was so much more I wanted to do. I did not have as much creative energy last year because I was so focused on learning how to run my card business and selling artwork.

I was fixated on making it "the Year that I truly began my art career," meaning a sustainable and predictable form of making income. I had hoped the card business would do that for me. But because I threw myself into it really intensely, I am now intensely burnt out. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll continue the wholesale card business, at least not in the grand scope I had planned. But I'll keep creating cards to sell on a smaller level at least.

For right now, I'm taking some time off. I've been watching a lot of movies and reading lots of books. I'm basking in the glory of slug-style living and not having an enforced schedule. And I'm trying not to push myself to do ANYTHING. I think it is well-deserved, and much-needed.

2015 is going to be a much different year. I'm intentionally going to back off of busy-ness and take things slow. I want to:

Learn from the slug.
Learn from the tortoise.
Learn from the placid well.

I want to do another update on this using the Golden Moth cards to illustrate my points, but this post has been long enough for now.

To everyone, Happy New Year! What have you done and learned from last year? What are you excited about this year?


  1. Aijung, it is so wonderful to read about everything you accomplished this year! I also had a busy year, although the thought of attempting to lay it out as nicely as you have makes me start to sweat, but I generally have a good feeling about what I accomplished, much of which was relational and not so tangible. I did have a goal of getting out of the food industry, which I miserable failed at in the first attempt, but I have now been going strong for almost three months and am hoping to keep it up forever. I also applied to three graduate programs in art conservation, which I feel is by far my greatest accomplishment of the year. 2015 is currently looking very foggy and uncertain while I await admission decisions, but I have plenty to worry about in the interim. Happy new year to you!

    1. Thanks Michelle! Laying out my year was somewhat easier for me because I constantly take pictures for the blog/Instagram, etc but I know what you mean. I had to look through my calendar to remember what I did. I'm glad that the year went well for you. Intangible things are important. That's okay about the food industry thing. I remember making a vow to never return as well, but I did a few years after that! I guess it's good to be flexible and strive for what you care about. In time, all the unpleasant jobs will just be minor details. Congratulations on applying to graduate programs! I bet that process wasn't easy. I wish you the best of luck with everything!