Over the last couple years, I've started the New Year off by writing what I call my "roadmap" for the next twelve months. It's not set in stone, and isn't a "resolution", but a list of guide markers to help keep me on track. Here's my entry for 2014.
I've also been writing a yearly followup to the previous roadmap, just to see how I did. Or rather, how badly the year got derailed. So before I post my roadmap for 2015, let's take a look back and see how 2014 fared.
Not surprisingly, this didn't happen. Like, at all. I quickly learned that such a thing is just an unrealistic goal for most people. There's simply just not enough time every single day to crank something out just to say I did it. I know a lot of folks do it, and my hat's off to them.
That said, I've done a LOT of art this year, probably more than any year previous (at least since high school). I actually did meet my goal of doing a drawing every day in October for the #Inktober event. Not only did I do 31 drawings in 31 days, but I sold every single one of them on eBay! I'm super proud of that, and hope to try it again in 2015.
I also stretched myself artistically by exploring a more illustrated style with paper and pencil. I'm a huge fan of artists like Drew Struzan, Richard Amsel and Mark Raats, and once I'd done my first sketch, I was hooked on the style. I've since done about 10 of them, and sold them all. I've even sold prints of a few already.
I also did a 30-card Return of the Jedi sketch card set for Topps I was super happy with. And the sale of the artist proof cards on eBay netted over $600. Absolutely makes it worth the effort. I'd like to do another set for Topps, but the timelines for others they've offered have just been way too short. I'm not a machine.
Oh, and not least of all, I started a new video artcast on YouTube, showing my art and process. I've done 12 videos so far, one of which has already gotten over 1,000 views. I've been super happy with how they've all turned out. Excited to do more in 2015.
Verdict: FAIL (but with adequate replacement)
Art Store Consolidation
One of the problems I've had is not knowing where my art should be for sale on the web. Etsy seems to be a necessary thing to keep around, but I ultimately want to have just one main official "hub" for my store. Last year, I thought that hub would take the form of a store integrated with my Squarespace blogging account. At first, I thought it would serve me, but over time I decided it just wasn't there yet. So I bit the bullet and started paying for a Shopify account. At $30, I feel it's pricey for an individual artist, but I see it as an investment.
That said, the argument for keeping the Etsy store around is getting thinner. Last year I made 8 sales there. Eight. Not even double-digits. I made about $295, and paid $90 in fees to Etsy. A couple of those sales were higher-than-normal commissions, too.
For now, I'm keeping the Etsy store open, just because people still stumble upon my stuff and buy something, and it's relatively inexpensive (about twenty cents per listing). I did purge a lot of old listings I just wan't all that proud of anymore, which should lighten the monthly fees.
Artist Proof Sketch Cards
Ugh. I still can't believe I'm sitting on blanks from the Walking Dead and Superman sketch card sets. I really need to just carve out some time and draw them all. The success of my Star Wars card sales on eBay has energized me to get them done and up for sale soon. I really think I'll get them done this year.
Chuck Jones Painting
Yep, I did my painting for the Red Dot Auction and I think it sold for a couple hundred bucks. You can see the Sherlock/Daffy mashup I did here. Assuming I get another invitation this year, I'll absolutely do another one.
So I didn't get around to creating any more t-shirt illustrations in 2014, but I did make some sales. Specifically, for some reason, sales of my Ancient Aliens shirts just skyrocketed. I ended up selling 58 shirts and a handful of printed items with that design. Sadly, the Woody Dead print sold just one measly print.
This one just didn't go anywhere in 2014. I didn't even finish the short story I'd started the year before. I still intend to write more, but it seems art is in the driver's seat right now. And I'm okay with that.
Of the things I said I might do in 2014, here's how all that panned out:
Didn't happen, but I'm going to start laying out a book that will collect pieces from 2012 through 2014, plus a few other goodies mixed in.
I totally did not intend to try the webcomic thing again in 2014. But for some reason, the bug bit me and I was off to the races. I did several strips I was very happy with, but in the end I just couldn't keep up the pace. To have a full time job, family and still have time to write, draw and publish a strip even once a week, is just too much to commit to. Again, the site is always up, and if I get the bug, I'll post a few more. Just no guarantees.
Artist Commission Site
This one hurts. I've been talking about building this web app for artists so long, it's almost become a joke. I still believe it's a good idea and has the potential to help a lot of artists that regularly sell commissions. I just have to carve out the time to start it and not stop until I have a working product. Stay tuned on this one.
Meh. I didn't get my proposal to CSS Dev Conf accepted, and to be honest I've kind of lost the enthusiasm for doing talks. I'd rather sit and make the sausage. Let other people talk about how it's made.
So I think that's it. Overall, I'm very happy with what I accomplished in 2014. And even more excited about what's in store for 2015. Of course, I still have the day job, which is pretty cool and funds all this crazy stuff I do on the side. But if I can make more art sales and get my name out there more, all the better, eh?
Oh, and a HUGE thanks to everyone who commissioned me or bought any of my art in 2014. It means everything to me. Look for my 2015 Roadmap post, coming very soon.