2016 was a crazy year, both in terms of the personal and the world at large. To be honest, most of why I want to do a year end recap is to try to figure out what 2016 was all about, since I feel like it did not go exactly according to plan (although, when does it ever?).
Here are some things that were awesome this year:
I grew my business!
This was a hard one to write, because honestly, I feel like I did not grow Blueprints as much as I had wanted to this year. But I have to acknowledge the fact that it did indeed grow and I am proud of that.
I released a new pattern which I LOVE, the Geodesic sweatshirt. I also created zines and made block printed patches for the holidays.
I also finally printed Saltbox. This was the project where, for some reason, everything was meant to go wrong. What seemed like an easy task turned into road block after road block. All I can say is, I'm happy it's finished and out there.
I started a small business group!
What started as a group of friends getting together for an informal art/design critique turned into a magnificent support group and accountability practice. For the last year, we've met monthly to discuss our projects, holdups, challenges and goals. We all run creative small businesses and had struggled with the 'bubble effect' of being self employed, so this group gives us a forum for workshopping ideas, getting feedback, setting goals and providing encouragement. And food.
If you're running a creative business and feel like you could use more of a community, I encourage you to collect a few other small business folks (not even necessarily in your field) and give it a go.
I taught a college class!
If you follow this blog, you may know that I've wanted to teach at a college level for many years now. Part of the reason I didn't get as much done with Blueprints this year as I had planned was due to diving head first into the world of academia. This fall, I taught History of Fashion at a local college and I had a blast. It took a tremendous amount of work to build a class from scratch (especially one that spans fashion for thousands of years!) and, while exhausted, I also feel exciting and energized about the future of teaching in this field.
I taught a ton of other classes too, including some away from home!
This was a big teaching year for me! Along with my foray into academia, I also taught dozens of classes in clothing design, bag design, pattern making, drafting slopers, blueprints patterns, sewing with knits, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, and more! I taught a week long intensive at the Eliot School in Boston and look forward to another intensive this summer (such a great format). I was even able to travel down to Alexandria, VA to teach a weekend workshop at the lovely Stitch Sew Shop.
I'm looking forward to teaching more weekend and week-long classes, perhaps even some retreats. I love the more concentrated format.
I did a residency!
This April I did a residency at the former Have Company shop in Grand Rapids, MI. I used the time to reconnect to my art practice and create something that felt more fun, more experimental and less polished. I created a pattern zine inspired by the Meyer May House, a Frank Lloyd Wright treasure in downtown GR, called the Prairie Skirt. Which leads me to my next thing...
I made zines!
Along with the Prairie Skirt zine, I also created another site specific zine for Stitch Sew Shop including a cornucopia of embroidery patterns inspired by Alexandria, VA. I have loved making zines since college and bringing them back into my practice has been wonderful and refreshing.
Looking back at it now, I suppose I did accomplish quite a bit that was new and exciting and challenging. When I started 2016, my goal was to focus. I wanted to zero in on business practices and follow a straight trajectory. I feel that overall, 2016 had me going down all sorts of paths not yet traveled and the new directions I found myself in were sometimes disorienting. However, I feel like I have traveled miles outward, expanding my scope as an artist, teacher, and business owner, as opposed to miles forward in any particular direction. This was not my plan, but I think it's working out to my advantage and perhaps 2017 will be the year of convergence.
I was planning to write a whole list of things I struggled with this year, but after thinking and typing, I pretty much just came up with one thing:
I didn't get as far along with Blueprints as I had planned.
My goal was to release a few new patterns this year, but I was only able to get Geodesic out there.
I had also wanted to bulk up the tutorials section of my website and add a fit guide for all of my patterns, which didn't all get done (though I did make a start)
I also experienced all sorts of major delays with printing Saltbox. I love printed patterns, but I may have to rethink my printing strategies going forward and make some changes. More on that TBD.
Just for the sake of follow up, here are my aspirations from last year:
- New Patterns
- More Tutorials
- More Classes & Workshops Near You
- Expanding into other products.
While I would say I was definitely able to accomplish some of these goals (A new pattern, more classes than ever, and zines & patches), I think their pursuit will continue into the new year.
I also had a few personal goals this year, which I feel I was much better able to accomplish. Go me! I have been in the process of honing my wardrobe into something more capsule-like. One big change was that teaching in the fashion department has given me more opportunities to wear my more fancy clothes, which makes me happy. I also aimed for consistency, which helped me see what was missing. I had barely any time to sew for myself this year, but that pause helped me figure out what I really need and how to plan for future garments. Here's to 2017 personal sewing!
While I wasn't able to get too much more involved locally in my community on a professional level, I met new people, made great new connections, and solidified my foundations where I live.
My other goal for 2016 was continuing my self work and self care. I worked hard this year! From gaining much better tools for mitigating anxiety and depression to discovering my love of trail running to establishing better boundaries and gaining professional confidence. It's always a work in progress, but I feel like I accomplished a great deal last year on a personal level.
Here are my goals for this year:
Release both a Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter pattern in 2017
I'm happy to say that these are in the works! I'm hoping to stick to my schedule and make these things happen. I think I can do it. :)
Do another artist residency
I learned and grew so much having the opportunity to focus on a conceptual project at my Have Company residency this year. It made me realize what an important part of my practice this is, both as an artist and a designer/business owner.
Find more ways/projects to connect my business with my work as an artist/educator
My Prairie Skirt zine and Architecture of Alexandria zine feel like projects that fit this bill. I'd like to continue working in this direction. Not sure what it will look like yet, but my head is swirling with ideas...
What are your goals for 2017?