2013 Roadmap Revisited December 23, 2013

So last December, I put together a little post called “My 2013 Roadmap”. So often, I’ll throw together a bunch of New Year’s resolutions into a stew of unfulfilled dreams and hope that at least one will congeal into a real accomplishment. Last year, I decided to put some thought into it, and came up with an actual plan.

Here are the results of that plan, along with passing (or failing) grades.

A New Sketch Card Set

In 2012, I completed a set of 40 sketch cards for Cryptozoic Entertainment for theirSuperman: The Legend trading card set. They invited me back to “try out” for another upcoming set and I was accepted. At the time of my original Roadmap post, I couldn’t disclose the property. In February, I was able to announce that I was working on 50 sketch cards for a Walking Dead trading card set. And in May 2013, I got to post all the artwork. As I said in that post, I think 50 cards for any one project is about the limit of what I can realistically deliver.

I actually was invited to 3 other sets in 2013. One was for a Mars Attacks series, and two were for Star Wars. While these were super tempting (especially Star Wars), they all were either a) super short deadlines with a minimum commitment of 100 cards, and/or b) paid way too little per card.

Doing sketch cards is rarely about the money. But at only $1.50 per card, you’re practically doing the work for free. To stress out on such a short deadline drawing 100 cards, only to make $150 to show for it just didn’t compute, so I had to turn them all down. To put things in perspective, Cryptozoic was (at least on my sets) paying $5.00 per card.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

My First Printed Book

At the beginning of 2013, I was fairly certain that I’d be able to self-publish my first book of artwork by year’s end. Unfortunately, as usual, real life has gotten in the way. That, coupled with my usual crippling “blank page syndrome” has left me with not enough artwork to fill the pages.

I’d started on a “One Sketch A Day” book, in which I filled all of 28 slots. I like the concept of a sketchbook with dates and day counts clearly delineated, but each block is about the size of a 3×5 card, and the paper is super thin. It really was a challenge to be able to use inks or markers without a lot of bleed-through.

I also started working with a toned-paper sketchbook, which I’m loving the look of. A lot of artists I admire are using that medium and it can make for some really cool looks. Will Terrell, in particular, has got some great toned sketchbooks. So far though, I only have 6 pages filled in this one.

Some random artwork from 2013

That said, I wouldn’t exactly qualify 2013 as being an art failure. I sold 12 pieces on Etsy, four of which were custom commissions. I also did a handful of other sketches including six for “Inktober”.

The more I think about it, the more I think I probably do have enough art from 2012 and 2013 to compile a basic art book. Not sure I’ll have it started in 2013, but I’m going to give it a go. Now, whether anyone will want such a thing is another story. But one bridge at a time.

Verdict: FAIL (but possibly just delayed)

Artist Commissions Website

Sometimes, ideas just follow you around like a lost puppy. You don’t have time or money to take it in, but gosh, you can’t leave it out in the rain now can you? That’s how I feel about this project. I’m still as convinced as ever that the concept of a web service that makes it easier for artists to sell and manage commissions is a sound one. I’ve polled several artists and nobody yet has told me it’s anything but a great idea.

At this point, though, I’ve only gotten as far as setting up the domain with a brief signup form. Honestly, whenever I think I’ll get started on it, I get overwhelmed by the sheer size of the project and freak out. More of that “Blank Page Syndrome” working its magic. I’m still going to build it, but 2013 just wasn’t the year for it.

Verdict: FAIL

Adjusted Pricing

This was an easy one. I raised the overall prices of each type of art in my store:

  • Sketch cards start at $7.50 each
  • Prints start at $10.00
  • Black and white sketches start at $20.00
  • Color sketches start at $25.00

As for commissions:

  • Sketch card commissions are $15.00
  • Black and white sketches are $20.00
  • Color sketches are $30.00

I averaged one sale per month on Etsy, which I suppose is better than a shot to the nuts. But I’d like to sell a lot more. Which means I need to draw a lot more.

Verdict: SUCCESS!!

Websites and Social Media

At a certain point, I started getting overloaded with the number of social media outlets I had to maintain. It should not take more than a couple minutes to update all your “identities” with a new piece of art or a quick update. I think I accomplished what I spelled out in this section of the roadmap. Artwork posts get made to Instagram, which auto-posts to Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. I still have to post manually to DeviantArt, but I tend to do those posts in batches later. I honestly don’t think I’m getting much good from DA lately anyway.

I did end up getting a Dribbble account in 2013 and posted a few things there. But again, I’m not sure I see a lot of value in it for me. Same can be said for Behance. Which is a shame, since I get a Pro account free with my subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Maybe in 2014 I’ll make an effort to explore that more.

The only thing I didn’t do was post to the Myths and Nonsense blog or Facebook account. I’d like to get that going, but it’s so far down the totem pole of priorities. Plus, a lot of the stuff I’d be writing about will just make me angry, and life is too short to constantly deal with the ignorance of others.

Verdict: SUCCESS!

The Comic Strip

I threw in one wildcard on the 2013 Roadmap, which was breaking the hiatus of my webcomic. It’s something I desperately want to get back into, but it’s such a huge time commitment. For any webcomic to get going, the key is to keep a regular schedule, even if it’s once a week. But something always comes up, or I can’t think of an idea, or paying work comes first, yadda, yadda, yadda. I only posted one strip in 2013 and it was in December, TWO YEARS since the last strip had been posted. We’ll see if I try to squeeze it into the 2014 Roadmap, which I’ll be writing soon.

Verdict: FAIL

So it seems like I broke even on success vs failure this year. While there were things I didn’t accomplish, I think overall I did okay. And let’s not forget landing a dream job, which is nothing to spit at. I’m also writing a lot more, both for Big Nerd Ranch and personally, so expect that to factor into the 2014 Roadmap. Look for it soon!