2015 is creeping quietly but quickly to an end, and with that in mind I thought I'd take a moment to trawl through my work archive of the year and have a look at – and reflect on – what I've gotten up to creatively over the last 12 months.
In early January I was frantically finishing off work for live competitions, with the Alice in Wonderland brief taking the forefront. This project was tough; I was constantly stuck between wanting to create something that felt honest and genuine while also trying to create something odd enough to please my tutors, and although in the end I was happy with the outcomes, I've since learnt since leaving university that the work I created just was not going to get me anywhere with children's publishers, which, you know, was kind of the aim. Funny how you live and learn, ey?
FEBRUARY - APRIL
From February through to April I felt a little more free as I began working on my second picture book, Mallory Goes To New York, although with the freedom again came difficulties. I find it so, so easy to overwork things to a point where they look stiff and lifeless, and normally this comes with overthinking and overplanning my pieces and meticulously colouring or arranging them digitally. To overcome this, I made a vow early on in the experimental stage of the project to use only traditional media when creating the imagery and only rely on photoshop to edit images and compose spread layouts. Overall I think setting myself that restriction worked, and while I look back at the book now and can see areas for improvement, I can definitely see that my work improved in the year between creating my first picture book and creating this one.
May was final deadline month for me, so after polishing off my picture book and self promotion I took a little bit of time to just sit down and paint mindlessly as I hadn't done so for a while. Mindless doodling always results in one thing for me: Ziggy!
In June I ended up with a lot less free time than I had anticipated as planning our stall for D&AD New Blood turned out to be a mountain of work. In between long days in the studio I began doodling in a small A5 notebook, and dinosaur doodles took place (appropriate as Jurassic World hype had taken over.)
After the madness of New Blood at the beginning of July, towards the end of it I had plenty of time to myself and decided to pull my watercolours out again while staying with my Dad in Germany. I was a little lacking in the inspiration department, so I did the easiest thing I knew how and decided to do a few portraits of animals from photographs; enter Her Royal Highness, Buttercup the sloth.
My lack of inspiration continued into August, and so I decided to make use of all the music I was listening to by illustrating various lyrics. For something that was done to bridge a gap in inspiration, this piece ended up being quite popular on Tumblr and somehow racked up over 1,000 notes!
September rolled around and I resumed my usual end of summer mope, but at the time I didn't know that sad little Septembear would end up setting the tone for the end of 2015 for me and my family.
In October I was in full-swing with partaking in Colour Collective every week, and it became such a positive thing for helping to boost my productivity and help to expand and improve my portfolio of work. I partook between September and December and created 11 pieces of work in total – some of which have become portfolio favourites of mine!
In November I announced my representation under Advocate Art, and as such shared my Heads Up illo for them, which is set to be featured in their 2016 calendar. In late 2015 I really got into colouring work digitally, and while I think it's been really successful for some pieces, I can't help but think that it's encouraged me to be a little lazy with my work as a whole (that and I also kinda miss just sitting down with my pens and paints.)
December has been a busy month full of work, flat searching and seeing family so I haven't created as much as I'd have liked, but I've tried to make the effort to create some traditional work alongside the digital stuff that's become almost second nature to me over the last few months.
On reflection, I think 2015 has been a very varied year for me. At the end of it now, I feel a little bit drained; of both ideas and motivation. I'm really hoping that I can get back on the wagon in 2016 once I've settled into my new home and job and know what time I'll have to sit down and create. I'm hoping a complete lifestyle overhaul will also help to get some cogs turning in my head once again so I won't have to feel so hideously uninspired and dull when sitting down to try and create something. While I'm happy with the development of my digital working methods since leaving university, I don't feel like I've had a single good idea in that time. In 2016 I want to feel inspired again, and I want to feel proud and excited by the things that end up in my sketchbook!