Evolutions, Dissolutions and Resolutions
This is the 2011-2012 recap post. I have divided it into 3 parts so it is easier to write and read because (reader be warned) it is long. Dissolutions and Evolutions go over what I have learned from the 365 days of 2011. Resolutions is a short list of what I hope to achieve during the 366 days of 2012. I hope you enjoy it!
1 Evolutions –
We are always learning and changing. What I got this past year may be too simple of steps for some people or maybe steps ahead for others. Either way, the most important thing is to learn something from the year that just ended. Here is my list of 2011 lessons:
- Get Help – Next time I find myself trying to decipher the latest tax deductions and css codes, I will stop and get help from a professional. With all that freed up time I can focus on my craft, put the hours and improve the work. Plus, I will end up with websites, postcards, tax returns, press releases and contracts that are done right and completed in record time.
I knew for a while that I needed help with the business side of Illustration. Someone else could be doing the work better than me. I needed an agent. Since late 2011, I am with Abigail Samoun from Red Fox Literary. It has been wonderful and now I can finally focus on what I really enjoy doing: illustrating.
- Work Smarter – I was raised to believe that you must always work hard. Later I learned that it is also important to work efficiently. I am not saying I do the least amount of work. I just take a smarter approach to the technique and the project to make the work easier to get done.
Last Summer, I was offered a picture book project with a tight deadline. I wanted to take it so I had to make it work. Needless to say, I learned that when I really focus I can get a project done considerably faster than I had ever thought. How did I save time? I made photoshop color studies for each spread, limited the amount of time spent per illustration (with the help of a timer), and used flat color backgrounds with flat color designs (leaves) to keep the pages interesting. If you are curious, you can read more about the project here.
Pay close attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. I assure you, you will think of a faster, more efficient approach to get the work done.
- Expect Nothing And Be Surprised – This may sound like aiming low but let me explain. I accomplish very little and wander way too much when I have no goals. I make plans, have goals, work towards them and expect nothing. When I expect nothing, I am grateful for anything that comes my way – big or small.
During SCBWI Los Angeles Conference in 2011, I was honored to receive an Illustrator Mentorship Award. I have to honestly tell you, in 2010 I wanted to get one and got none. This past 2011, I went expecting nothing and my name was called.
I am pleased and grateful, extremely grateful to SCBWI and all the opportunities that the mentorship has opened up. If you are not a SCBWI member and are serious about your career as a children’s author or illustrator, you must get a membership now!
- Meet in Person – Social networking is the compounded one word I probably have read the most in the last 5 years. Yes, it is necessary to know how to network and granted some people are extremely good and successful at it. Yes, it is necessary to have active accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Yes, having a presence helps getting your work noticed. But at the same time, I believe meeting in person and building relationships in real life can be a lot more satisfying and can still give you the benefits of a presence and getting your work noticed.
With that in mind, I decided to travel to San Francisco and attend the SCBWI Annual Illustrator Day. There I got a chance to finally meet Tracy Bishop, Laura Zarrin, Joey Steuerwald and Shirley Ng-Benitez. A definite highlight of the year. I have “known” them from Twitter for a while but meeting them in person brought a new level to the tweeting and emailing. I also got to meet Abigail Samoun (see #1) and listen to a fantastic panel that included Joann Hill, Art Director at Disney-Hyperion Books, Linda Pratt from Wernick & Pratt Agency and the illustrator Andrew Glass. All and all a great, fun, fulfilling trip.
On a more local level, I continued to try and find excuses to meet with our small illustrators group. Nothing like seeing them and sharing some art over salty Margaritas and Colorado Bulldogs!
- Travel – It is so easy to get comfortable in the studio. But I must drag myself out. It is always worth it. This past year we made a few trips. All trips were great but September’s trip to Mexico was fantastic and the picture sums it up pretty well.
A trip to the zoo or out of the country. It doesn’t matter! Just get out, enjoy the rain, sun or snow while I keep my eyes open.
- Take Risks – Opportunities come to us and they not always look perfect from the very beginning. A couple of times this past year, I took projects that looked like a perfect match but the pay was less than I would normally take. I took the projects, and they led to better jobs. If I haven’t had taken the risk with the initial projects, my portfolio wouldn’t have had the pieces that led to the new clients. I think they were worth the gamble. So this year, if my heart says: “do it,” I will listen.
2 Dissolutions –
We change and modify things according to our experiences. This past year, I learned to keep myself away from certain things. This is what I learned in 2011:
- Only Take Projects You Love – Much like I listen to my heart to know if I should take a risk, I now listen to know if I should say NO. If I don’t love the project immediately, I walk away. Something better will come along.
- When In Uncertain Territories, Open Your Ears And Close Your Mouth – A couple of times I found myself sitting with people I didn’t really know who were sharing ideas I didn’t really agree with. From now on, I will listen, take mental notes and keep filling my mouth with snacks. Better forgotten than sorry… unless the conversation involves race misconceptions, of course. If that is the case, you will hear me.
- When in Too Much Doubt, Say NO – It is not worth forcing yourself into a situation you won’t enjoy. This year when my heart says: “don’t go,” I will listen.
3 Resolutions –
There is always room for improvement and if the changes are ever so little, you are bound to succeed. I have decided to make and post my first resolutions list ever. Since I am publishing it, I will be accountable by December 31st. I will report on my attempts throughout the year. With all that said, this leap year I pledge to the sorted list below:
- Listen more.
- Say less.
- Write short replies.
- Breathe deeply at all times.
- Sketch something not work related once a day every day.
- Mail 1 promo postcard every 3 months.
- Talk to one person I have never talked to every month.
- Get back to reading and commenting on blog posts.
- Take a short vacation with the family every 3 months.
- Bake once a month.
- Take mental pictures.
- Make Wednesday mornings accounting days – starting February.
- Sit out in the sun for 15 minutes every day.
- Laugh more.
- Worry less.
- Keep my eyes open.
- Be surprised.
I want to wish all of you an exciting, successful and happy 2012! I am leaving for New York for a week later this week. I have tickets to see “War Horse” in Broadway, hope to visit the Met and walk Central Park (weather provided). I will try and take lots of pictures so I have a short but colorful post to remember the big, great adventure. Off this Peruvian girl goes to the Big Apple. I am bringing my boots. Wish me luck!
Talk to you in a couple of weeks!