2017 The Year of Design
February 15, 2018
I have had quite a journey leading up to 2018. My friends and family have followed and supported me through the crazy antics of an artist/entrepreneur. I owe my husband a great deal for encouraging me to do what I love. The road has been interesting, challenging and I have learned a lot. This is my art life timeline.
2008 — 2012 Sweet Harvey Press
In 2008 I graduated with my degree in Graphic Design & Fine Art. I focused mainly on stock illustration and letterpress printing during 2008–2012. My stock designs were on istockphoto.com and I printed and sold my letterpress goods through Etsy and at Indie Fairs. Letterpress was fantastic, but the custom plates for my illustrations were costly and there was a 705lb printing press in my dining room. That worked for a few years, but my husband and I really wanted to move out of the city and purchase a smaller house that we could quickly pay off. That smaller house was not going to include a printing studio and quite frankly, the task of moving our stuff and a 705lb machine was daunting. So the decision was made and the press was sold to a lovely artist who worked for Disney.
2013–2014 Art Licensing
Printing ended up feeling like production work, as I sold A LOT of handmade products throughout those years. I decided that moving forward I would pass the production on to other companies, through licensing (I will go into much detail about licensing in later posts). After learning pattern design, I signed with a licensing agent in 2013 and focused 2013–2014 on providing her with artwork. The money was alright, but the artwork requirements were very intense and trend based. If I have to draw another Santa in my lifetime, it will be too soon! On an important side note, I opened up a tiny design shop just before signing with my agent called Digiluxe, more about that in 2017.
2015 Powpourri The Retail Shop
We moved to Winterset December 2014 and 2015 became the year of the retail shop. I was still designing for my agent at the time so it was tricky to try to do both. My hubby and I opened a shop on the square and it was another learning experience for me. The overhead (rent, utilities, etc.) was rough and I found that if you are going to have a handmade shop, it works better if you are selling various artists work. It is impossible to please everyone with a single style and if you traffic is minimal then you need to have more to offer. I also missed working from home and not having to drive in the snow. Needless to say, the shop was short lived and I quickly moved on.
2016 The Year of the Paint
Once the shop wound down and I was just about finished with my agency contract, I decided that my art time would be spent on painting. I had not painted since art school and I missed it very much. My new house in Winterset has a large open basement, wouldn’t have worked for a press to come downstairs, but I could paint there. The only issue was the lighting or lack of, but I worked around that. I painting like crazy in early 2016 and started doing shows in late May. I found that the economy was rough for art in the price range that I had to offer. Either that or I was doing the wrong shows (I will go into more detail about art shows in the coming months) for now, let’s just say that I was not able to make a living doing shows.
2017 The Year of Design
As much as I loved painting, I had to find a way back to earning a decent living. It was that or find a part-time/full-time job. When I started thinking about how to make money, I knew that design was the only way. I have found over the years that people always find money for necessities. They need graphic design to run their businesses and there is always wedding/important life events that needs invitations, etc.
About this time, my husband and I had a conversation about “whatever happened to Digiluxe?” (remember that business I mentioned back in 2014). We had both thought that was a fabulous idea at the time, but right after I started it, I signed with my agent and didn’t really have time to invest in it. So, there is was, the hopeful solution. I spend 24/7 the entire year of 2017 to build Digiluxe into a lucrative business and so far, so good. Thank you so much to all of my customers! Thank you also to my husband for putting up with a bit of an absence on my part. I was very determined. On a side note, I got side-tracked just a little in 2017 learning a new medium, but I was building the business so it had to be put on hold. More about that in 2018!
2018 Design + Stitch
Now that I have a base for my business, I finally have a bit of free time. 90% of my time will still need to be spent on maintaining and building my graphic design business, but I am finally taking the weekends for myself. So how will I be filling my weekends? Fine Art? For sure, but I won’t be painting. I will miss it, but I have moved my studio upstairs into a bedroom so there is really no room for canvas storage or all of the larger supplies needed for painting. Instead, I will be doing embroidery. NO, not your grandma’s embroidery, this is super cool stuff and I am looking forward to sharing more about it in upcoming posts.
Well, this ended up being much longer than I had planned, but I wanted to illustrate how an artists journey can go. The road is not always straight and not always easy, but totally worth it. I do intend to produce detailed posts about several of the directions I have taken and to outline the good, the bad and the ugly.