A thousand years from now, what’s left of the human race might acknowledge 2016 as the year of our downfall. Just about everything went wrong: personally, politically, globally…it was a taxing year for all of us and I couldn’t have been more restless about getting to the end.
It can be hard to measure your own success when you’re looking at it day-to-day. Growth and achievement become more obvious when you take a few steps back and look at the year as a whole. So, for that reason, and because I think it’s important to recognize the small victories when life gets weird and hard, here are 10 highlights of my year both professionally and personally:
1.My Instagram exploded. Earlier in the year I talked a little about how Instagram can be a powerful tool for a visual artist and that expanding my reach through the platform was going to be a major focus of mine. In February, I had around 800 followers. By December I had over 12,000. I continue to get a lot of business through Instagram and plan on growing that branch even further in the coming year.
Here’s a peek at some of the pieces I created for my Instagram feed this year:
2. I started a couple new series for Joie de Vivre Hotels: illustrated packing lists and illustrated city tours. Because we were doing similar pieces for many different locations, I had to consider how to make each one unique. I’m really fond of these two series because it allowed for an amount of focus and imagination that I hadn’t tapped into with them previously.
3. I continued to work with some old friends and made a few new ones! We released another year of desktop calendars through Garlic, My Soul, helped The Effortless Chic with maps and graphics, and made printables for Lovely Indeed and Sugar & Cloth. I created ad units, social media posts, and web banners for HelloGiggles, Koil, and Outpost Supply Co., and created a line of labels for Country Markets‘ trail mixes, dips, and juices. I’m so, so grateful for every new opportunity that comes my way and cannot say thank you enough to the wonderful people I got to work with this year. This list is by no means complete, it’s only a quick glimpse into a much larger pool of incredible collaborators, all of whom I have nothing but respect and admiration for!
4. My Swimming Frenchie Phone Case was picked up by Nordstrom and sold online and in stores during the month of July! This is probably the most exciting thing that happened to me this year. I’ve never had an item at a major retailer before and to see it being sold on a shelf was a high like no other. This single experience led to a lot of personal revelations, including the idea that I’d like to design more for products. It also led to…
5. Opening my Casetify store! I started my own collection in July and have been seeing growth every month since. In 2016, I focused mainly on phone cases, but in 2017 I plan to add more Macbook sleeves, watch bands, and iPad covers. I started an entire swimming dog series, and they are by far my best selling pieces. I will definitely be continuing to add new dogs to the series, so if there’s one you’d like to see, let me know!
6. Because of the work I’m doing with Casetify, I had the opportunity to design a case for the Lucy Hale x Casetify tech capsule, art directed by Lucy herself! It’s an illustration of Lucy’s malitpoo, Elvis, as one of my swimming dogs. Designing for a celebrity capsule was an especially memorable piece of my year.
7. I released a line of cards on Etsy, and a handful of them ended up in the FOLD Gallery, a real brick-and-mortar store in downtown Los Angeles!
8. I had a great year for interviews and was featured in Trend Magazine, on Chapter89, The Daily Dot, Circus Magazine, Hunting Handmade, and Tell Me Tuesday. This is an aspect of creating that I didn’t think much about previously – I’m not super comfortable talking about myself, but these publications all made it so easy. Plus, getting the chance to answer questions gives me an idea of what people are interested in most. If you’d like to chat, please reach out via the contact page.
9. I started taking orders for custom portraits this year. I just recently added a “Portraits” section to my portfolio – they make such great gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and can be a cute way to document how your family grows and changes over the years.
10. And finally, a few personal items…
We redecorated and painted a new backyard mural! We took some cute family photos…
…and some less than cute family photos. Squirmy beagles make for good outtakes though!
My best friend got married and she let me design her thank you cards and a few other pieces, which led to a brief stint in invitation design that did not last. You can’t win ’em all! Maybe this is something I’ll revisit in 2017.
We took a trip to Arroyo Burro beach in Santa Barbara so Ruby could experience a real dog beach, and spent a weekend on Balboa Island where Ruby got to go on a boat ride with us! Finding vacations for all three of us is not always easy, so I’m glad we were able to figure out a few.
My family surprised me and flew out to L.A. for my 30th birthday – other M told me we were going out to lunch, and when we walked into the restaurant they were sitting there, looking over their menus, acting so casual that they almost blended right in. I, of course, immediately burst into tears and could not collect myself for at least the next hour.
We hosted a Halloween party for the first time since I moved to L.A. and, despite some tricksters who tried to ruin our fun, it was a total scream!
We visited Grand Central Market for other M’s birthday! There are so many places in L.A. that I still haven’t seen. I think we’re going to spend more time exploring our own backyard in 2017.
And lastly, perhaps the brightest spot of 2016, was the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix. I’m only partially joking when I include this in my personal highlight reel, because although many people took issue with some of the character choices, I found them to be really truthful and touching.
2016 was my first full year as a freelance illustrator and designer. There are many, many times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and to see someone as seemingly put-together as Rory in a similar place made me feel like no one really knows what’s going on, and gave me permission to continue being confused about life. My family suffered some deep, personal losses this year and Emily’s journey to rediscover herself after Richard’s death proved to be a real catharsis. Lorelai’s uncertainty about her own happiness is something I think we all question on occasion. Of course it had flaws (everything does) and maybe it was just the perfect storm of fiction meets my-own-reality, but this series making its comeback was just the pick me up I needed toward the end of the year.
And with that, I say farewell to 2016! Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm this year, it’s only going to get better! Right? I’m choosing optimism and I hope you are too.
Here’s one more puppy, to send you off right! May your 2017 be infinitely better than whatever these last 365 days were. Happy New Year!