Happiness Project Reflection 9: Was It Worth It?

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Hey guys!

How was your week?  I hope you’ve been enjoying summer wherever you are.

Here in Seattle, it’s been sunny and beautiful.  My husband’s away for work most of the month, so I’ve been taking over taking care of our veggie gardens.  Some things in our gardens are growing like crazy (thumbs up to beans, eggplants, and cucumbers) and some not so much (thumbs down to tomatoes and zucchinis… Sadface.)

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So I had a full week since I quit my day job last week.  I can tell that it will take a long time to mentally transition to my new life 100%.  I can still feel the anxiety of “What am I doing at home?? Shouldn’t I be in the office?” from time to time.  I just take a deep breath and try to let it roll.

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One thing I did to start off my new artist life on the right foot was I went on a mini solo retreat over on Whidbey Island for a couple of days.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, guys.

This is where I stayed. So peaceful and beautiful <3
This is where I stayed. So peaceful and beautiful ❤

There is a saying in Japan that loosely translates to “When in hurry, take the long way.”  I was overwhelmed with all of my “to-dos” in my head and didn’t know where to start.  Although it didn’t feel “productive” to sit and think for two days, it was exactly what I needed.  I’ll write more about my solo retreat on my blog next week 🙂  There is so much to share!

Today’s post is the last of my Happiness Project Reflection series I’ve been writing about various learning moments that happened while creating art about happiness every day for 365 days.  But I don’t feel like I’ve properly acknowledged how awesome it is that I accomplished the big goal I set for myself.

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So today, I want to celebrate it by sharing the highlights of my growth and some opportunities that came out of my 365 Day Happiness Project!

You ready?  Here goes.

These are the highlights of what I’ve gained internally.  They’re powerful because these are things I will keep forever and will tap into in my creative journey ahead.

  1. I gained more confidence as an artist. 
    This one is big for me.  I’ve talked about it here often, but I’ve always felt insecure about my art.  It’s wonky and child-like.  But through the project, I’ve heard from so many people who appreciated the unique voice I added to the world by providing art that was mine.  I also heard from people that it gave them the confidence because they made art that was also kinda wonky.
  2. I’ve developed a discipline to keep a consistent creative practice every day.
    I rediscovered my love for art as an adult after not engaging in any sort of art activities for many years.  I would draw or paint when I felt like it but realized I needed a more consistent practice if I wanted to make a living by doing art.   By making a public commitment that I will be making and posting art every day for 365 days, I created an accountability measure for myself.  It really helped.  It helped create a habit to create every day.  Even though my daily project has been over for several months, I still make time to make art for myself every day no matter how busy it is.  It’s like workout – you just miss it if you stopped going even though working out is not always fun!
  3. I’ve deepened my artistic style.
    I talked about this in this post, but consistent daily practice is the most effective way to establish and deepen your artistic style.  You probably already have a style (or styles) you’re drawn towards – daily practice will give you many opportunities to find inspiration and hone in on your signature style.
  4. I’ve used art as a tool for healing.
    I knew art has many many intangible effects, but I experienced its healing power when I lost my kitty.  You can read more about the experience here.
  5. I took a risk every day by putting myself out there.
    I think this is reason enough for a celebration.  I don’t enjoy being vulnerable in public.  But I knew I had to get used to it if I wanted to become a successful artist.  It does get easier – after a while, being afraid of faceless/nameless haters gets old.  You learn to focus your energy on what’s helping you accomplish your goals, rather than what’s holding you back.
  6. I learned art is my passion and is worth pursuing with all of my heart.
    This is an interesting one.  I knew I liked drawing and wanted to pursue it.  But through the project, I really knew I was passionate about it.  I experienced how art feeds my heart and soul, and I experienced it on a regular basis.  It made me realize how much I wanted to experience that even more every day and that I needed to do whatever I could to pursue it.
  7. I learned hard work pays off.
    This is another big one.  I’ve heard many times “You work hard and put yourself out there, and the results will follow.”  But I didn’t know if or how it was going to happen for me.  This project has opened many doors for me as an artist in a way I didn’t expect to.  I’m a believer now 🙂

And, I’ve had other more tangible results as well!   Here are some:

  1. I have 365 new illustration pieces I didn’t have before.
    I mean, sort of duh, but I still think it’s splendid that I created 365 pieces of joy that didn’t exit before.  I may have mentioned before that I want to turn some of them into prints – I haven’t gotten to it yet, but it’s moving forward, so stay tuned for an announcement!
  2. I/my project was featured in a presentation my hero Lisa Congdon gave in Portland, OR.
    Lisa is one of my art heroes.  Her work  and the ways she approaches her work and life really resonate with me.  I talked about how Lisa’s daily projects inspired me to start my own in this post.  She was looking for people to submit their sketchbook project to include in one of her presentations, and I sent her my Happiness Project.  I was so honored when she said she’d include my project in her talk!!  I admit it: I’m a total fan girl – I was walking on clouds when she introduced my work as “her favorite” during her talk ❤  It was never my goal (and it still isn’t) to get a recognition from my heroes, but I was lucky enough to get it from someone I admired so much.  It was even sweeter because she was the reason why I started the project.  We remain friends, and she keeps inspiring me ❤
  3. I have 4 art shows this year, compared to 0 last year.
    Having an art show was a secret dream of mine this year.  I can’t remember why it was a secret 🙂 but it wasn’t something I was pursuing very hard either.  But after the Happiness Project finished, I had so many art pieces and felt they needed to be seen by more people.   So every chance I get, I was asking people if I could have a show.  Although it may feel awkward, you really need to ask for it if you want something.  You never know if someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer!  By asking for a show, I got 4 shows at local cafes and a restaurant!  They’re pretty low-key, low-pressure venues which is perfect to get my feet wet.  I just ended a show at a super cute cafe, Columbia City Bakery, in my neighborhood in July and received very positive reviews.  The coordinator has asked me to contact her again when I have new pieces to show 🙂

    Me and my mom at the show <3
    Me and my mom at the show ❤
  4. I received a generous care package from Sakura of America.
    You may know Sakura of America as a company who makes Micron pens, which I’ve used many of to draw.  They have been following me on Instagram since the Happiness project and asked if I wanted a care package from them!  I immediately said YES.  A few days later, I received a box full of beautiful pens, markers, and paints to play with.  What a wonderful surprise!  I’ve been having lots of fun creating with the new drawing supplies I received from them.  (My title illustration for today was created using their Koi Brush Pens.)  Sounds like I may be one of their guest Instagram posters in the future (in 2016) and may also be creating some tutorial videos for them.  Stay tuned!

    I even decorated pen holders using the new markers & pens <3
    I even decorated pen holders using the new markers & pens ❤
  5. It gave me at least 10 blog posts!
    It helped me tremendously to kick off my goal of publishing weekly blog posts.  I think of more things to write about the more I write, so I’m sure there will be more posts related to my experience from this project! 🙂
  6. As of today, I’ve brought in twice more $$ in sales and commission work this year than the entire year of 2014. 
    Granted it is not a lot of money at all (I would share the real number if it was more!) but still something to celebrate about!!  Woo hoo!  Growth is good even if it’s small.
  7. I’ve created communities that support and value my work.
    I wrote about how relationships are what fuel me to create and grow in this post.  And it’s really true.  My communities are continuing to grow, and I get so much encouragement and inspiration from them.  It is definitely the best thing I’ve gotten out of this project!!

When I started the project, I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know if I would finish it or if anyone would care.  Yet I gained so much from it.  Much more than I’d ever expected.

They might be small wins but it means so much to me.  It tells me there will be more exciting opportunities for me as I continue to work hard and keep sharing what I have to offer.  I mean, imagine what I can accomplish now that I don’t have a day job to go to?  I want to squeal and do a lap around the apartment when I think of all the things I want to work on!!

Sure I’ve lost some sleep and fun social time, and that’s not to be taken lightly.  But was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Have you been working on any daily/weekly/monthly project?  Tell me about it in the comment!

p.s. This month, I’m working on a Daily Sketch Project with my fellow illustrator Janine Crum.  Check out my and other peeps’ daily sketch on Instagram hashtag #MakeWithMe.

p.s. 2 – Have you signed up for my e-newsletter yet?  I just sent out my first one and have been hearing very positive feedback about it 🙂  Join me here

Thank you guys!  It’s been a pleasure having  you in my community 🙂

xoxo Yuko

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