Today I wanted to take a minute to look back and reflect on my accomplishments this year! If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know a lot have happened. And let me thank you first of all for supporting me and encouraging me along the way!! It really means a lot.
I’m not very good at talking about my successes, so here I am, doing something a little scary!
1) I completed the 365 Day Happiness Project in April.
In April of 2014, I started a daily drawing project about happiness. I didn’t know if I was able to commit to it for a year but just had to do something that puts myself out of my comfort zone every day. I successfully completed in in April of 2015! As a result, I’ve grown my audience, have gotten multiple opportunities, and have deepen my art style and practice tremendously. I wrote a 9-part blog series reflecting on the project here.
If you’re in or near Seattle, I’m having another show in January at a non-profit coffee house Luther’s Table in Renton, Washington. Come on down and enjoy my original drawings 🙂 Part of the sales is donated to the organization.
Now that I’ve had a break from doing a daily project, I’m planning on starting another one in 2016! I’ll let you know what and when it’s going to be, but I plan on starting it in the Spring of 2016 🙂 Woo hoo!
2) I quit my day job.
Now this is huge. I left my day job of 14+ years at the end of July to pursue art full-time. It was one of the biggest life changes I’ve ever experienced besides coming to U.S. at age 18 and getting married 2 years ago. It was a scary and difficult decision, but I knew it was the right thing for me. I haven’t regretted that decision once! I share my process of quitting my day job cold-turkey here.
3) I had 4 art exhibits and 8 arts/crafts shows.
When I completed my 365 Day Happiness project, I ended up with a bunch of new works with the theme of happiness. I’ve developed more confidence as an artist through the project, too, and it gave me a push to put myself out there even more. I had 3 shows from the art work I made for the Happiness project, and one show for my new watercolor abstract work.
I’ve also been doing a lot of local arts/crafts shows beginning this summer. l love interacting with my audience in-person and am learning a ton about doing shows!
4) My revenue grew 6x compared to 2014!
I’ve seen significant growth in my revenue after I quit my day job in July. It really goes to show that when you work hard and put yourself out there consistently, opportunity will come. And I have more flexibility to say yes to these opportunities without a regular day job. Granted it’s still not a very big amount, I still want to celebrate it!! Here is to more revenue growth in 2016! (<– insert sounds of glasses clinking here.)
5) I started a weekly blog and continue posting every week.
I knew my goal for 2015, if I didn’t do anything else, was to practice writing more consistently. I was feeling pretty good about where my art practice was going, but writing always took a backseat. I just didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t know who I was when it comes to writing. But I knew in order for me to push my art career to the next level, I needed to add writing to my tool box.
So I made a public commitment (this works for me very well) to start publishing a weekly blog every Sunday beginning in June. I mostly write about what I’ve learned about creativity and motivation. It doesn’t always come naturally but I carve out time to write first thing in the morning every day.
Just like working out, writing is a muscle. You practice it consistently even when you don’t feel like it, and you’ll be stronger and more comfortable. I’ve found my writing “voice” through my consistent practice and have noticed it’s not as much of a pain to write any more – in fact, I enjoy it now! I love hearing how my blog is helping people, too 🙂
A quick advice to people who want to blog more consistently: 1) Write and have multiple posts in a queue before start publishing it. I try to have 4 posts in a queue regularly, so when I’m swamped or take a time off, I’m still on schedule. 2) Write like you speak. This is another great advice that helps me with writing. As a non-native English speaker, I’ve been conditioned to follow grammatical rules to a T especially when writing. But I watched a webinar of Laura Belgray, who is a super funny and talented copy writer, and it changed my belief about writing “correctly.” I highly recommend you download her 5 Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy on her homepage. When I try to write like I speak, my writing is more engaging and personable. And I have more fun writing that way!
6) I started a monthly newsletter in August.
This also adds to my writing goal for this year. I wanted to reach my audience who may or may not be following me on other social media platforms and give people a convenient way to get updates about what I’m working on. Though it’s still fairly new, I’ve been getting pretty positive responses from my readers so far. If you enjoy reading my blog and want to get more of that good stuff, sign up for my newsletter here! 🙂
7) I offered a monthly art subscription service.
At the end of last year, I thought about what I can do to challenge myself on the product end and offer my audience a convenient way to get their hands on the new products I was making. Are you familiar with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept? You’d typically pay a subscription to a farm and receive a box of their seasonal harvest weekly or so. It’s a way to support the farmers directly, and you get fresh, local produce regularly!
Anyway, my concept for art subscription, 2015 Gift of Happiness, was very similar to that. Customers will buy an annual or 6-month subscription and get a product from me every month. I also send my subscribers a special newsletter every month talking about the story behind each product.
I think the concept itself was great. But my timing and marketing were not very well planned. As a result, I had a very small number of subscribers, so financially it was not very successful. BUT I was able to put more care and attention into each subscriber and was able to connect with them at a deeper level. That’s an opportunity only possible when you have a small number of people to interact with.
Let me share what my happy customer said about the monthly subscription!
“I have really enjoyed my subscription to Honeyberry Studios recent product series. Yuko’s joyous attitude really shines through in the delightfully colorful designs and products she sends out, and always with great packaging. I especially like to gauge the progression in her practice as an artist and illustrator via the series. I highly recommend her products and services!” – Jafon Hakkinen, Receiver Design, SF
Yay! I ❤ my customers. They’re just the coolest!
Through the process I learned much about putting out products, so that was a big plus! Whenever I have a less-than-successful launch or project, I just consider that I’m paying to learn, just like going to school! I’m paying for my future more successful self 🙂
With that said I’m going to put a hold on the subscription service in 2016. I might do it again later on as I grew my audience and interests. Stay tuned!
8) I completed two monthly art challenges.
After I finished my year-long daily art project in April, I was a little lost. It was such a huge part of my creative life, and suddenly my routine had to change. I was still making art every day, but it was just not the same.
So I was delighted to join a couple of art challenges on Instagram in June and August with an illustrator Janine Crum. Janine would send out a prompt every day throughout the month, and we draw and post what we made on the internet. It gave me the sense of direction and a new challenge as I had never done prompted drawing like this before.
If you’re interested in what I and other artists made during those two challenges, go to Instagram and search #MakeWithMe
9) I learned how to block print on fabric.
Learning how to block print on fabric was another game changer for me!! I took an online course, Design, Carve, Print (new class coming up in February of 2016!) with Jen Hewett in February, and it totally changed my creative practice in a big way.
I immediately fell in love with the process of block printing on fabric and have been incorporating the technique in many of my works ever since. It’s so meditative, and I love that I can make art that people can use every day! I wrote about my experience in the class here, and you can check out some of my block printed goodies on my Etsy shop 🙂
And, I’m teaching my very first block printing class in Seattle this spring!! If you’re local, I’d love to have you in the class! Registration opens on February 1, 2016 🙂
10) I started working out.
This may seem unrelated to my art practice, but I’m proud to have overcome my fear of gym and have been working out consistently for about 9 months now. OK, “fear of gym” may be an exaggeration, but I was intimidated by it and had been avoiding it for most of my life. I thought gym was a place where young, good-looking, and athletic people went to do their perfect routines, and people like me, who were uncoordinated and not athletic at all, didn’t belong in there. I had also injured myself running in the past and was not sure of my ability to do it right.
But I took out the courage to check out the gym in my neighborhood and started working out with the owner/personal trainer. If you had not worked out before or just want to push yourself more, I highly recommend working out with a trainer! Yes it’s more $$ but it was totally worth it. He encouraged me and pushed me enough so it was challenging, and I learned the right way to work out and became more confident in my physical ability, which is a big deal! It also changed my belief that the gym was full of young, good-looking, skinny people – all kinds of people work out there – lots of people of color, older people, families, people with different abilities and shapes etc, so I feel very comfortable.
Our personal training sessions ended a long time ago, but I still go about 4 times a week and sometimes join their group exercise classes. I feel more energetic and strong when I work out. It gives me the mental discipline so I’m able to stick to things that are challenging outside of the gym, too!
11) I started taking mini-sabbaticals every 7 weeks.
I shared the concept of Small Scale Sabbaticals a few times, but I started taking every 7th week off in October to recharge. Since I quit my day job, I was just going and going. I felt like I couldn’t stop working because there are so much to do, and I was inpatient to get where I wanted to be. Inevitably, I started feeling burnt out. I decided to implement regular breaks and have taken two sabbatical weeks since. It’s been AMAZING! Though stopping everything for a week feels a little scary, it makes me work harder and more productive when I’m “on” and helps me to focus on self-care when I’m “off.” Read more about my experience and thoughts here.
12) I started meeting with accountability partners.
Accountability partners are someone you check in with regularly for support and accountability around specific goals. I have two awesome accountability partners I’ve been meeting with monthly, and I look forward to our meetings every month! It’s so nice to be able to talk freely about how things are going and share the struggles s as well as successes. I interviewed my accountability partners in these posts. If you’re curious about having an accountability partner, I say do it! It has given me and my partners so much.
Since I quit my day job, I’ve been thinking of ways to combine my two passions: art and helping other people, and came up with this brilliant idea of becoming a Creative Coach. I have the experience and skill set of helping others in a non-judgemental and strength-based environment, and what better way to help other artists and makers achieve their creative goals than to coach them?? I’ve been running a pilot program and working with a couple of clients one-on-one for several months. And I’m loving it!! You can learn more about my thoughts and meet my fabulous clients in these posts here.
I’m opening up my Creative Coaching practice officially in February 2016 and can’t wait to help more artists! For more information, visit my Creative Coaching page! I’m also kicking off the new year with a free 4-week challenge starting Monday January 4, 2016! If you’d like to receive a weekly email with prompts, tips and helpful tools from me to set and work on your creative goals during the month of January, sign up here.
I’m also planning an in-person Creative Coaching workshop series in Seattle this spring. Ah, so many possibilities!
14) I created a drawing tutorial.
It’s been on my to-do list to create a drawing tutorial for quite some time. So I was delighted when I was asked to create one for Wing, Worms, and Wonder blog hop in October!
I created a nature drawing tutorial using markers for the blog and had a lot of fun doing it 🙂 If you’ve missed it, you can check it out here.
As a result of this collaboration, I got invited to be a Guest Teacher for Kiala Givehand‘s The Journey Within: A Year of Handmade Art Journals! I’ll be working on another goal of mine: producing a video tutorial, for this project 🙂 My video tutorial is scheduled to appear in the e-course in March of 2016, and I’m SO excited for this opportunity! You can learn more and enroll here. I’d LOVE to have you in the class and learn with you 🙂
And this wraps up the recap of my successful moments in 2015! Tell me what you’re proud of this year! Pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve put in to achieve your creative goals. The seeds you sowed this year will grow next year and beyond 🙂
Have a peaceful New Year’s and see you in 2016!!