Tuesday, 9 January 2018

2017 in review

Now that I'm back to work with plans and goals for 2018 I'd like to take a look at the things I accomplished in 2017. At the end of last year I was overwhelmed with work and didn't have a moment to reflect on the exciting things that happened and all the things I learned. Here's a monthly overview of 2017.


I came back from my Christmas holidays to no projects or commissions on the horizon. I was feeling very anxious about it, but halfway through the month I got a commission and started working on a pop-up book series with jungle animals for a Brazilian Publisher. Sadly the project got cancelled in May but I learnt new things about colour composition and I was happy with the images I created.


This is the month where I decided to start painting with watercolours. I created a few designs for my portfolio and loved the process of creating something with my very own hands. I licensed two designs to American Greetings and worked on a series of baby books for one of my lovely Australian clients, Lake Press. I booked my tickets to go to Bologna Children's Book Fair in April. I also took over my Agency social media accounts for 10 days sharing pictures of my life in Hong Kong and my art. I felt very inspired to create images for social media and started to think about ideas to include these kind of images into my own accounts.



Work-wise things started to pick up and I received a commission to illustrate two board books for Igloo Books; I worked on this project until late April and I also illustrated some spot illustrations for an educational publisher. I started working on my portfolio and promotional material for the Bologna Book Fair. I decided to print small mini portfolios to give away to potential clients as well as postcards and business cards. 
We ran 3k to raise money for a local charity.


As well as my newly found interest in creating images for social media I also decided to start Vloging and shared my first "week in the life" video on my Youtube channel. Before travelling to Bologna I created some spot illustrations for Ladybug magazine for their September Issue. 

Bologna book fair was a very interesting experience. It was my first time visiting so I didn't know what to expect and I was very anxious about the quality of my work, my social abilities, etc. Luckily I got in touch with some illustrators on twitter and we made arrangements to meet.  I also got to chat with a few of my clients and to see my work in real life and got a few samples to  take home.

From left to right: Tim Budgen, Tim's wife, yours truly, Clare Elsom and Steve Brown


I was super excited to license some designs that I had done earlier in the year for greeting cards. I was especially delighted to see my happy purrday design turned into wrapping paper! I also travelled to Singapore and found some copies of my books in a local book shop.


In June I received a very exciting offer to collaborate with Singapore-based art supply shop Overjoyed. They kindly send me some art materials and I create illustrations and a video to post on social media. I was over the moon with their offer because I've always wanted to collaborate with companies and as I said before I absolutely love creating content for social media. 


This is always a month of travelling for us because it's the longest holiday of the year - for teachers that is -. We decided to go to Mexico, London and Paris. In Mexico we visited old and new places with the company of a friend. We ate all the things we were craving, especially tacos al pastor, and were outdoors most of the time and saw lots of cute animals. We also spent a week with my mum who flew from Colombia to Cozumel.  Click here if you wish to see more pictures of our travels!


I had a lot of creative energy after a wonderful holiday and decided to start filming time-lapse videos to post on Instagram. I also started to experiment with motifs and limited colour palettes and received my first commission to paint dragonflies with watercolours for American Greetings. 


This was a very busy month because I received a commission to illustrate 4 board books and a novelty book ( I can't show any images from these projects because the books haven't been published yet). Somehow I also found time to create a new watercolour painting almost everyday! I licensed some designs to a company in New Zealand including a watercolour painting that I had painted back in February.


After a lot of consideration and thought I decided to open an Etsy shop. Over the years I've received quite a few inquiries about where to buy my prints so I decided to put on sale a limited selection of my most popular illustrations. I also licensed some designs to a wall paper company.
On a personal level I decided to join a local charity and started to host a monthly event to make sock toys for children in need. 


I licensed my first halloween design for greeting cards and created a couple of designs for easter ( I haven't licensed those yet!). I spent most of my time working on the final book of the series I started in September and I also got a commission for a halloween book from a sample that I had done back in April! 


This month flew away in a blur because I was busy working on the halloween project and also creating my traditional Christmas Advent. This year my design was inspired by Chinese paper cutting. I decided to accompany my images with a random act of kindness and I also challenged myself to use a very limited colour palette. 

Right before I went away for the holidays I licensed some Christmas designs I had done the previous year as part of my Christmas advent (Coincidentally those were the same designs I had printed to send to my friends and family!). We ran 3k dressed up as Santa to raise money for a local school. To be honest I hate running but everything is fun if you get to wear a costume!

These were the highlights of my 2017. There was a lot of travelling and exciting projects throughout. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone more than in previous years and even though it was difficult it paid off (most of the time). 

Meeting and chatting with other illustrators in real life has been a big eye-opener and it has helped me to see that there are other people in the world who share similar experiences and that I'm not as lost as I thought I was; and even though I still struggle with anxiety and self doubt I finished the year feeling more confident and determined for the things I wish to accomplish in 2018.

I have big goals for 2018, especially regarding my approach to my business and I can't wait to share them with you (I need to write them down first). Thank you so much for all your support and kind comments, it means a lot to me :)

PS. If you're starting out or are an anxious illustrator I wanted to remind you that these are only the highlights and best bits of my year and don't include doctor visits, chronic illness, self doubt, details of my anxiety problems etc. I have good and bad days but I try to have a positive mindset and hope for the best!

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