A Quick Year In Review
I’ve always said that we have years of growth internally & years of accomplishments externally. The growth years are challenging— even if the income is good and you are happy with the amount you’ve “leveled up”, it is still hard when you don’t have big things to chalk up. 2021 was definitely a growth year for me.
I began with a quarterly goal of reworking my websites into one single Shopify site. Sounds easy enough. Three months would suffice in most normal situations, especially since I already had a basic Shopify site. It was early January when I discovered that Shopify and Out of The Sandbox (my theme provider) had both made significant upgrades to essentially new platforms. At first, I thought I had done something wrong because none of my existing Shopify site had transferred. I think I tried two or three times to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Nope. I was going to have to start fresh. My plan to parse in pages over the course of a few weeks wasn’t going to fly. I was starting over. The first week in and things were already not going according to plan.
My interiors work continued, along with surface pattern design, and what was supposed to be a March deadline ended up sliding right up to summer. This was an extra pursuit on top of my already busy schedule.
At one point, I entertained the idea of outsourcing the Shopify site work. Should I have? The answer is: maybe.
My decision came down to a few things. First, was cost. The 20k investment required still would have taken me a lot of time to convey my design ideas and vision, and it wouldn’t be complete for 4+ months. Not that much benefit for the cost. Plus, I know enough CSS & HTML to be dangerous. Now is a good time to tell you that Shopify is written in Liquid, an entirely different coding language. It was challenging, but I fully designed and customized my site exactly how I wanted it. Now, when things aren’t working the way I want them to or I’m ready for a tweak or refresh, it’s easy and fast. The investment of my time will pay off in the long run, especially since Clint is a graphic designer and can chime in with layout and design suggestions.
It’s hard to switch gears quickly when in such a tech mode. The bulk of Jan & Feb didn’t see much outside creative work. Just the minimum. This was a mistake. I also spent a considerable amount of time designing our new studio space-- not a mistake! While the plan was pretty well set, I did need to create a vision for the space and make sure that all of the design aligned. I’m still working on cabinet designs and floor plans so that when the electrical starts we get everything in the right spot. A building project is a time-eater, no matter how you slice it. Paint colors, hardware, and furniture will all be forthcoming in 2023, so I need to allow time for that commitment.
I did spark my creativity with two great courses from Helen Wells. I realized that my brain works in 2 different creative modes. Surface pattern motifs are painted separately and arranged in photoshop. Art & sketchbook pages are composed as a whole. I realized that I’d gotten too far away from the composed page, and I worked through the Helen Wells class to help me flex my creative muscles when thinking about composing artwork. I’ve committed to sketching in various materials daily & finding something I can pull out and elaborate on in each one. It’s slow going, especially as the busy end of the year and holidays descend upon us, but it is a bit of salvation and sanctuary away from the chaos.
I created a lot of new products this summer, one of my favorite things to do. I wanted to ensure that the shop had a wide variety to choose from as I relaunched it as my only site. I am not a huge fan of print-on-demand products in general, as the quality, and out-of-the-box experience can vary. I decided to invest in small production runs where the goods are shipped to the studio, and I can check the quality myself. Some things, like iPhone cases with 20 sizes, don't make sense to stock, but most everything is easy enough to keep a small amount on hand. The biggest difference is that we can package and wrap the products in a way we love. When you open a box from us, it will feel special. I've wanted to make this happen for years, so this is a great success.
A few more highlights:
• I found a way to use my time in carline while waiting for the kids. I draw graphic cards on my iPad and license them. Small win.
• We actually broke ground on the new studio/ in-law suite. It's about 400 feet outside the back door. While progress has been slow with a few major issues, we have a structure that will come together quickly when construction materials arrive next month.
• I was invited to join a print designers group that has made all of the difference in my mindset and my work. We meet 2x a week and can communicate easily in between sessions. It's amazing to have a group of professional-level designers who happen to be people that I enjoy. It has made a world of difference for me, and I'm honored they asked me to join the group.
• After completing my Shopify site, I stocked it with new products. I have my master's degree in industrial design, so it was a great change of pace to stop and design products again. While I don't get to use all the technical know-how I gained in grad school; it's still one of my favorite things to do.
• I finished the year strong, completing two new collections and painting motifs for a few upcoming collections. Here is a videoshowing some of my work in early December.
I'm looking forward to a strong, steady, but mostly creative 2023! Thanks for being here for the journey.