2016 Postmortem

  • SVS OG

    Before the end of 2016 (tomorrow night - omg), I’m trying to finish up reading “Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull (one of the founders & current president of Pixar) — Great book, btw.

    In the part I just read, he’s talking about how Pixar does postmortems after each film and why they are valuable. We would do that in advertising too.

    For those unfamiliar with postmortems, in Ed’s words regarding Pixar: “A postmortem is a meeting held shortly after the completion of every movie in which we explore what did and didn’t work and attempt to consolidate lessons learned. Companies, like individuals, do not become exceptional by believing they are exceptional but by understanding the ways in which they aren’t exceptional. Postmortems are one route into that understanding.” (pg 214-215)

    While we have a tendency to look forward into the new year (most of my time recently has been planning for 2017), it is probably a good idea to recap what we’ve learned & achieved in the year gone by.

    I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet, but since it is the Eve of New Year’s Eve on a Friday:

    Does anyone have anything that they learned or achieved (good or even “bad”) this past year?

    @Lee-White @Will-Terry @Jake-Parker : Any SVSLearn or personal postmortems to share?

    (I’ll try to collect my own thoughts & share after I finish my book today or tomorrow - hopefully!)

  • debriefing, when you can... will always be valuable. It's that rule of thumb that @Jake-Parker seems to quote often, "Done is better than perfect." But, figuring out how you could work more efficiently or solve problems better the next time is (again) valuable.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Will-Terry gave great advice "have a solid sketch perfect before you proceed. " I learned this the hard way this year- it cost me hours and hours on a project I did. @Lee-White shared his process of digital before watercolor and it was an eye opener, working out the bugs before turning it traditional.
    I learned indesign this year . And published my first picture book with createspace , not perfect but very happy with my first attempt.
    I have started saying I am an illustrator and believing it-all in all a great year and SVS was a huge part I my success-thank you SVS.
    Goals for 2017 get a strong body of work for my portfolio.
    Looking forward to 2017 with SVS

  • @lmrush yeah both are great pieces of advice that I have been crazy guilty of ignoring... rushing ahead without building a proper structure.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @andyjewett Just checked out your website again and it is fantastic! Did you do it yourself?

  • @lmrush yes, I did and thank you very much... I desperately need to update it and take into account some of the advice I have heard (more than once) from some of the SVS videos (specifically thinking of @Lee-White 's Making money as an illustrator series). I have been debating using a template for sake of ease and a more mobile-friendly site.

    I will probably open up a topic about this kind of thing elsewhere (or look for an existing one)

  • Pro SVS OG

    What worked well for me: I managed to shift my portfolio towards children's illustration (with a great help from SVS!) and establish a good work rhythm after finishing art school (I was afraid I would slump without the pressure of assignments!), mostly thanks to art challenges - especially Third Thursdays. I landed a couple of freelance jobs and reduced my day-work contract to a wonderfully relaxing 50%. I have signed with an agent, though wether this is good or bad is still to be seen.
    On the minus side: I earned only about a tenth of my forecast from freelance activity (which was definitely not a high target either) and discovered to my horror that writing children books is enormously difficult and that 10 years of corporate copy-writing are no preparation for that. So I am now at draft 6 of my book and it still sucks.
    I look forward to 2017, my first SCBWI conference, hopefully some more remunerative jobs and some enlightenment that will allow me to write breezy and lively children-friendly prose with no effort....ok, the latter will probably not happen, but hopefully I can invest the effort and still get my dummy done!

  • SVS OG

    I posted a blog article in my Ramblings section with the content below but with several links (at the bottom of the blog post on my site) of some of the websites, people, tools, books, and such that have been part of my 2016. http://quietyell.com/2016/12/31/2016-postmortem/


    This year has been a pretty big year for me. It actually started slightly before 2016.

    In October 2015, I had come to the long-wrestled with conclusion that rather than all of the things I had been doing these many years, my heart was really for illustration and particularly children’s oriented illustration. Additionally, I had a deep-rooted desire to contribute to the minds, hearts, & wellbeing of children; thus, leading to the pursuit of children’s book development.

    This meant I would need to be spending a lot of time trying to get back up to speed in illustration as well as children’s book development while simultaneously pushing away anything that didn’t fit into this focus.

    So, when I got back from Taiwan (Oct 2015) I joined SCBWI and jumped right into creating and drinking from a firehose of information & such.

    My 2016 has been about redeveloping myself and building a foundation.

    This included:

    • Attending SCBWI chapter meet ups and educational webinars & conferences
    • Reading art & publishing industry related books & variety of online articles
    • Going through almost all of SVSLearn videos and some Schoolism videos
    • Seeking advice & guidance from industry professionals
    • Familiarizing myself with names of people, companies & resources, various terminologies, relevant business processes & technology, various techniques, etc.
    • Research & consumption of many picture books, middle grade books, movies, etc.

    • Getting back online into social media & connecting with industry people/organizations and populating with content (I had used social media a TON personally but then pulled all of my content & activity back in 2009)
    • Actively engaging with others online (like in the SVS Forum, Facebook Groups, other social media)
    • Meeting with other illustrators in person

    • Created a variety of paintings & attempted new things with each (whether process, style, content, etc.)
    • Sketched a lot, also attempting new things with each
    • Moving from exclusively digital back into including traditional media

    I suppose there are more points that could be added here, but even with the points listed it is quite a bit that has been done, yet, this hardly expresses just how many sub-points and specifics each entails, which is an enormous amount! Truly this past year has been drinking from a waterfall.

    I think that I have successfully reoriented my focus; something I am quite excited about.

    Because of that, I think that I have made substantial progress on redeveloping myself and giving myself a pretty good initial foundation.

    From this, I see 2017 as being a continuation of the education, expansion, & exploration of 2016 but with heightened focus, benefiting from all of the work done already.

    Now that I have something to show, I can begin “stepping-up my game” with the quality of my drawing, painting, concept & narrative, etc. of my work, including developing specific types of work absent from but necessary for my portfolio. (No pressure, right?)

    I’m still looking for my “breakthrough” illustration(s), but given the growth from pre-2016 to 2016 and within 2016 itself, I think that I have a good chance of achieving that first, seemingly elusive, breakthrough piece soon.

    While I will definitely pursue learning, networking, exploring, & creating, I would also certainly like to grow the business side this year.

    I am quite appreciative for SCBWI, SVSLearn, and the various individuals & groups I’ve gotten the opportunity to grow from this past year.

    In particular, I have gained a tremendous amount from @Will-Terry , @Lee-White & @Jake-Parker and those in the SVSLearn Forums for which I have the most sincere gratitude for.

    As I had the opportunity to say to Will: “It is my hope that I can implement and excel from this guidance, and that I may make you, the SVSLearn team & members, and my wife, family & friends proud & encouraged by such growth.”

    May it be so this 2017!

  • What a great thread!

    My year has art-wise been the best in many, many years. November 2015 I bought a Moleskin sketchbook and a new digital toy, the Samsung Galaxy Note tablet. I committed to doing #Dailydoodle2016 - 100 days of sketching. I did not do a sketch every day (most of my sketches took several days), but I have exceeded 100 by quite a few. So even though I never feel I do enough, I have still had a very productive year compared to the previous.

    I have familiarised myself with my very, very old Intous 2 A3 tablet, and done som Photoshop work as well. Getting past the difficulty of drawing on a tablet while looking at a screen took some getting used to. I've experimented with different rendering styles and techniques, but no where near as much as I would have liked. I have yet to find a rendering style I feel comfortable with, so this will be something to address this year.

    Like I mentioned in my Limbo-thread I don't have any big projects planned for this year. I mainly make art for myself, so I don't have to consider any commercial aspects. My main priorities will be to enjoy the process and not obsessing with the difficulties. I would also like to explore different rendering styles and subject matters, creating aesthetically pleasing and (to me) meaningful pieces. This both means digging deeper to find the core concepts, but also letting go of preconceptions of what I think what I'm trying to convey SHOULD look like.

    It is going to be a good year, I'm sure 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Camomilla love!

  • I heard it said from a writer and thinker I greatly admire that the modern world is the longest continuous pep talk in history. Everyone encourages being hyped, psyched, enthused, driven, or whatever word you may prefer. I've learned this past year to go in the opposite direction. I enjoy my work tremendously, think about it often and I take it seriously. I maintain an awareness however that I will die and that in the grand scheme of things my work amounts to dust.

    Far from being crushing, this is very freeing to me. So what if I fail at this or that? In the end it all returns to dust. So what if I succeed spectacularly (by the world's standards)? In the end it all returns to dust. I assign no universal importance to my work and have no expectation that my name will endure.

    I do what I do because it is my instrument for exploring truth, beauty and goodness. It's a way to make my wife smile. Maybe, eventually it'll even be the means by which I make a living. But in the end, it's a good thing to do today....and tomorrow....and tomorrow....and tomorrow, until all of my tomorrows come to an end.

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