2015 was a year where I tried many new and potentially crazy things: running a kickstarter, driving a full 24hrs to Kansas City for Spectrum Live, participating in Month of Fear, and plenty more. All of that went well and allowed me to feel out what was working for me as well as what was making me happy.
Now 2016 has trampled in to kick 2015 squarely in the pants. I'm not going to dwell much on the past year for you, I want to think about moving forward and some of the tools I'm using to reach my personal goals.
I like to start off my year with a tiny pocket sketchbook that stays in my jacket pocket and is on my person everywhere I go. I use this for thumbnails and visual ideas that I scan in and stick in a giant computer file of ideas- just in case I'm ever stuck for a solution. I manage to capture a lot more of my fleeting ideas when I have a reliable place to collect them.
Attached to my sketckbook is a bulldog clip (for any stray paper, and to attach writing/drawing utensils). In the back pocket of the sketchbook is my list of yearly goals. If you're going to make a list of goals, don't shove it somewhere you'll never look at it, keep it somewhere handy or pin it up by your desk.
I have 5 main goals on my list, for this post I'll share just one: "Finding My Voice". That is a pretty intangible goal, but I made myself a list of ways I might get closer to it. If you're curious about how to make a list of tangible goals, there's a great post on Muddy Colors as well as some useful exercises in "The 4-Hour Workweek".
It's a useful practice to analyze the work of artists you love, as well as your own work. I've done this occasionally, and my notes are completely scattered in various sketchbooks and notebooks which is not entirely helpful to me. Inspired by an episode of One Fantastic Week featuring JAW Cooper (an artist I adore), I decided to be more conscious of my analysis of work and dedicate a notebook solely to that purpose. I have a list of questions I ask myself about the art- and try to end my notes with a few new questions, specific to the artist I'm examining, to think about.
Other goals to help me "Find My Voice" include reading on subjects within the art field- but outside of illustration. I feel that within a community most ideas tend to be passed around and recycled, so I'd like to pursue some of my other interests and see if I can bring some fresh ideas into my work from outside of the community I'm already involved with.
Finally- sketch and write daily. This goal is the most tangible for helping me "Find My Voice", there can't be any growth or discovery without the work.