Year in Review
and what a year it was.
It was roughly one year ago today when I quit my job in hopes of pursuing my passions.
Little did I know that this action would launch a whirlwind of experiments and adventures that would ultimately land me to where I am today (go figure).
To be completely honest I didn't have a concrete plan as to what I was going to do. I had a rough idea of the directions I wanted to head in. But I didn't really have any leads or direct opportunities to get started in any "legitimate" field. So what did I do? I did a lot of faking. I made a website, put up as many examples of my work as a I could, came up with a loose but professional sounding description of what I do for a living, and I began to chase my dreams!
Now don't get me wrong, this point of my life was by no means a walk in the park. Pennies where pinched, meals were skipped, and there were plenty of nights spent in turmoil and self evaluation as I had no form of employment or any idea of how I was going to start making a steady living. I worked some odd jobs here and there, and was able to sell some prints, along with some personal belongings, and in the end I did end up going back to my previous bartending gig for a time. BUT! this time I was only working a couple of days a week instead of full time, an the change of schedule gave me an ample amount of time to both make some money as well as dedicate time to working on my crafts and shaping the next steps of my foreseeable future.
Throughout the year I've found that the beautiful thing about making content is that you can only make more. It keeps on building and building, kind of like a pile of leaves. Eventually you come to realize how many little piles you've started over the years and can then begin to focus on certain piles more than others. Keeping the momentum churning as you make the piles bigger and bigger until you invite others to jump in and start playing along in the big leafy piles.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that maybe I didn't end up getting as far as I ultimately hoped. But there's no doubt that eventually I began to lay down some foundations that I wouldn't have been able to without giving myself the time to get my priorities figured out.
but I regress.
The purpose of this post is to take a scroll down memory lane and reflect on what worked and what didn't durning the strange and prolific year of 2020
Screen Printing/Digital Illustration
The first medium that I remember turning back to after quitting my job was screen printing. I've always had a dream of owning my own studio and making a living off of printing full time. I thought that maybe I could start by just busting out a bunch of prints and continually selling them until I saved up enough money for a space of my own. Needless to say that didn't happen. But! I did make a nice arrangement of work that I am very proud of, and began to expand a style and skill set that I'd like to think is unique and true to my own.
(most galleries can be scrolled through using the arrows on the side ->)
My most popular piece of the year was "King's Fish". I think this work was the one that really wrapped up my year as a whole. Everything just kind of came together. I was left with a feeling that I actually knew what I was doing (lol). There were a handful of happy accidents when making this piece, and I feel like if those accidents didn't happen then it wouldn't have nearly achieved the same effect. Going forward I'm planning on doing many more historic/old Richmond buildings in a similar fashion. I already have one in the works! Feel free to let me know if you have any recommendations!
On top of making prints again, I began to learn a good deal about digital illustration and design. After doing a good amount of research Hannah and I decided it would be mutually beneficial to finance an Ipad Pro. This way I could use it for digital drawing and she could practically use it as a computer. There was a bit of a learning curve when starting out, and I'm still learning new tips and tricks every day. But Ever since acquiring the IPad and learning Procreate I could never see myself without it. It has streamlined the process indefinitely on top of saving a lot of money on materials. For any aspiring screen printer or digital artist I would highly recommend looking into it, It'll become the most important tool in your arsenal.
2020 ended up being the biggest year in music for me. Although I have yet to release a debut full length album, I made a lot of breakthroughs through experimenting and good ol' fashioned book learning.
When Covid finally caught up with us my places of work had to shut down for a few months. I was put on unemployment for what seemed like a short lived eternity. With all of this extra time and not having to worry about finances, I did what any sensible aspiring music producer would do and READ THE F****** MANUAL! I sat down with my gear and read the Ableton 10 and Moog Sub 37 manual back to back while taking notes. What came after was an absolute dream. I sat down and composed an EP from scratch for the first time in over 6 years... smh it took this long
Quarantine Dream was the EP I always wanted to make but never thought I'd had the time for. The whole EP was made using only Ableton live 10. No external or acoustic instruments, no vocals, no plug ins, just what Ableton had to offer. It took me about 3 weeks to come to completion. writing, tracking, and mixing. I wrote a more indepth post about it soon after I released it in May.
The only thing I wish I could've done differently about Quarantine Dream was getting it properly mastered. It's all there, the mix is good, the instruments are solid. but having another ear to master and get it to where it could've been would've been the icing on the cake so it would really blend and pop the way it is meant to be listened to. Maybe one day ;)
as a last little side note, I learned a wealth of knowledge about promotion and how to actually get music out on these platforms. Doing everything by yourself can be very liberating, but it also means doing all of the research, promotions, and groundwork. which is very time consuming especially if you'd like it done right. I may write a more indepth blog post about this topic in the future.
Out of all of the mediums that I like to dabble in I find photography to be the most forgiving, and often the most fruitful.
What I love most about film photography is that you get what you get. I never edit or tweak any of my my film scans, so whenever I get a roll back from my developer I'm always eager to see what turned out well and what didn't. After shooting a few rolls and getting well acquainted with my camera, I've found it pretty quick to find the sweet spots and where I think the settings should be. Nevertheless it's always a bit of a crap shoot depending on the lighting, film speed, subject, etc.
I think this was a big year for me for my film work. I've probably shot more film this year than I have in my lifetime. It's a practice I will definitely continue to hone and refine, and I would highly recommend anyone to do the same, especially if you're looking for a new hobby.
In addition to film photography I've also been doing a great deal of digital photography. Mainly when it comes to my job, i'll bring my DSLR to take some shots for our social media outlets. For only using natural lighting i'm pretty stoked with what I've been able to accomplish in the space. One day I'd love to get a new camera, but them things are expensive! and I think old faithful is still kicking it just fine.
So! where does that leave me? I'm currently working full time at a Meadery managing their social media accounts and creating content for them, as well as for myself, on a daily basis.
I've actually learned quite a lot while working this position. The biggest part of my job is creating content and learning the best way to get it out to our audience. Obviously we like to have a personality as well so it's not as boring as it sounds. I'm free to express my creative liberty and although i'm not creating this work for my personal portfolio, there's plenty of pieces that can be used as examples and I've had a lot of fun with what we've been to create thus far.
On top of what was mentioned this job has also challenged me to learn some new skills as far as advertising and design. I've been spending a lot more time in Illustrator and Photoshop and continually learning more about the Adobe Suite. Not only does it expand what I can do for my job but it also comes in handy when working on my personal work and freelancing opportunities.
All in all I'm pleasantly surprised with all I was able to accomplish this year, there's still a lot more that needs to be done, but I'm glad I was able to knock a few big ones off of the list. Throughout the year I successfully started an online store for my printwork and business, released an EP, designed album artwork for an emerging artist, designed a logo for a pop-up concept and a band, shot more rolls of film than I can count on my two hands, printed t-shirts for small businesses, drafted up a concept design for a community project, became proficient in Procreate and the Adobe Suite, began managing the social media accounts for a local business, and most importantly I was able to do all of these things on my own terms. For all of the friends that have put their faith in me to do some quality work and make things happen, I can not thank all of you enough for believing in me!
Sitting here and putting all of this together, it's really hard to remember where I was a year ago. So much of it was blurred together between long shifts and drinking the rest of it away. Between the two I didn't give myself the chance to break the cycle and start something new, but I always knew I wanted something more. Bartending can be a very noble profession, but it takes a very certain kind of person to be able to do it right and without fault. I was not that person. As much as i tried to fight it and carry on with the routine, alcohol still got the best of me.
With that being said, I know I'm still not perfect. But one thing for certain is I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied as I continue to try and be better. I've been hearing the phrase "one day at a time" a lot recently. I don't know if it's because I've become more attuned to overhearing recovering alcoholics, but nevertheless it is a phrase that I've began taking to heart.
There's plenty more projects to get done, and plenty more projects to begin. But either way, they're all going to come and go while cycling through one day at a time.
To whomever took the time to read this, it truly means the world.