After completing my 2020 business review I can see that while I achieved a few things, I was also not completely focussed and easily distracted, and often felt overwhelmed by what I thought I had to do.
So this year I knew I needed a different approach. Mostly it was about accepting I don’t have that much time at the moment (especially now my daughter has stopped napping 😳) and being more realistic about my goals.
This is what I’m doing differently in 2021:
I’ve kept things relatively simple and have one overarching business goal which is to license 10 designs by the end of the year. There’s obviously a lot of smaller goals and things to do to achieve that, but so far it’s made me much more focused and relaxed knowing this is what my goal is (rather than also doing other things like trying to sell & promote print on demand products for example).
My goal planning has taken on a whole new level after discovering the MiGoals Goal Digger planner. This planner is FANTASTIC. You basically work out timeframes and steps for various goals, and my favourite features are writing down a reward for when you complete each goal, and also having weekly habits you want to start or stop and ticking them off at the end of each day. It’s my new favourite thing!
I knew I needed to vastly improve both my motivation and engagement with Instagram, as I know as a visual business it is one of the important social media platforms (along with Pinterest) to be active on. I’d been interested in Brook Vulinovich’s Social Club for awhile and finally joined at the start of the year. OMG why didn’t I do this sooner?! It is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made so far, the information is AMAZING and really makes sense if you are using Instagram as a business.
Surface pattern designer Shannon McNab recently ran an industry survey and found that Instagram was the most helpful marketing method for pattern designers, so I’m all for getting my account looking as jazzy as possible!
This year I’m much more focussed on trying to improve on one thing at a time. So my main art goal for 2021 is to improve my realistic nature illustration. I was quite lucky to be given a botanical illustration book for Christmas and I’m working through the steps in this book. Ofcourse I still want to do fun crazy art experiments, and in my monthly planning I’ve given myself one ‘personal’ day a month which is for things like experimental art (and cleaning the house!).
Towards the end of last year I decided to try and make a collection based on the theme of Blue Ocean (see moodboard below). While I have created a handful of patterns from the motifs inspired by this moodboard, only a couple of patterns really appeal to me and I don’t think any of them look like they are in a collection. I have found I much prefer making one-off super fun designs and these seem to fit my style more. So I will continue to explore this and create what appeals to me rather than forcing something. My new approach is to ask myself- would I wear this pattern or have it in my house? Only those designs with a YES now make it to my portfolio!
It’s finally happened that my daughter has stopped napping 😩. And she isn’t always asleep that early, so there’s no guarantee I’ll have the energy to stay up at night to work. I get two 5 hour days each week to work while she’s at daycare.
Previously I was forcing myself to stay awake at night or getting overwhelmed or annoyed that I wasn’t getting much done. Now I’ve accepted that 10ish hours a week isn’t a huge amount of time so I set my weekly goals to be achievable within this time. Obviously some things take much longer than I expect but generally by reducing my weekly to-do list I feel much more productive and focused.
I’ve also started to prioritise exercise which surprise surprise helps with energy levels!
One final trick is that I have set up ‘down time’ on my phone, so at 8pm each night almost every app closes down and it’s really annoying to try and open them up. So this has been a good mental shift to turn my brain off and focus on doing artwork or reading before bed (instead of scrolling!).
I got this idea from Shannon McNab. Working from home as a surface pattern designer can be a very solitary pursuit, and I don’t know many people who are happy to discuss things like social media strategy or why this pattern looks weird (my partner eyes tend to glaze over the minute I say the word Instagram). So I asked one of my lovely social media friends if we could have monthly video meetings to discuss our goals and tasks for the month. If you don’t already have something like this set up I HIGHLY recommend- it’s so great talking to someone else who understands what you do, and most importantly who you have to report to on what you’ve been doing!
I realise I used the word ‘focused’ about a billion times in this post! This pretty much sums up how I am feeling about my work this year, much more focused and aware of what I’m doing. I’m looking forward to seeing how I progress this year and hopefully I see my more of my art out in the world!
Thanks for making it to the end of this post! I hope you enjoyed it 🙂 Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!