Whew. It’s been a while. My last blog post here was at the start of the year. I was looking forward to 2015 because I knew there were a lot of exciting things coming ahead.
“A lot” is an understatement. Lol.
This year has presented a lot of changes. The two biggest ones: I started a new job, and I got married.
About the job: I’m now designing full-time, putting my fashion degree to good use. It’s pretty awesome — I’m working for a maternity apparel company and helping to revamp their plus-size collection, a undertaking I’m really passionate about (my graduate thesis focused on plus-size fashion.) But I underestimated how much a full-time gig would take out of me. Somehow, I assumed I could work 40 (sometimes, 60) hours a week, and still put out the volume of illustrations I was doing when I was working for myself at home. I thought I could be Superwoman.
Not so much.
Trying to balance the job with the same amount of custom illustration requests I’d been fielding before turned out to be a fool’s game. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating well. I was stressing, constantly, and it showed up in my health. Eventually, I just paused on illustration altogether, so that I could recalibrate and assess, honestly, how much I could handle along with the demands of a full-time job. It led me to make some serious decisions about my work moving forward, which I will explain a bit more below.
And then — I got married. The happiest, most fun and love-filled day of my life happened on August 1, 2015. But uh, wedding planning? NOT A GAME. My now-husband I and planned the whole shebang on our own, and boy, that was pretty stressful. Twelve months of planning, budgeting, meetings, surprises, disappointments, conflicts and resolutions were exhausting. But this Buzzfeed link sums up perfectly what wedding planning is like — in the end (and this is really true) is was all worth it. I got to dance and celebrate with the people I love most, and I went home with a brand new hubby to boot!
All of these changes made me reassess what’s really important as I move forward in my creative life. The number one takeaway: Illustration, for me, is not just a hobby — this is both my career and a means of fulfilling my personal mission. So my priorities needed to change to make this a profitable venture that also fulfills me as a creative. To that end, I’ve made a few changes to the way I run my illustration business:
- I’m no longer taking on personal, one-of-a-kind commissions. This was a difficult decision, because this is the request I receive most — custom illustrations for personal cards, stationery, gifts, etc. But each personal project is so time-intensive that continuing to take these would not allow me to reach the larger goals I have for my work. It’s a bit ironic, but In order to make the work available to more people (I explain why, below), this is an area I have to move on from.
- I’m going to prioritize working with brands and publications. Working with EDEN BodyWorks, Essence and Marie Claire this past year brought me a lot of joy, as I was able to draw for brands that also value positive, glamorous images of women of color. I like doing projects like these because more people get to see them — and I don’t say that from a place of ego, as in, “ALL people must see MY ART!!!!” — but rather, folks get to enjoy images and illustration that reflects them, without having to pay the cost for expensive custom work. That’s important to me.
- I’ll be producing and selling my greeting cards independently. I’M VERY, VERY, EXCITED ABOUT THIS. You guys ask about my card all the time! So later this year, I’ll begin selling my cards directly, and I’m very excited about the product I’m developing. They will be different than what was sold at TJ Maxx. The new cards will be high-end, with fancier paper and artwork, much like the kind of stationery you find in specialty boutiques and places like The Paper Source. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long, LONG time, and now, with the wedding out of the way and with pruning the business, I can focus on bringing you guys some really, really cool stuff. Please stay tuned for this.
In the end, it’s important to me that women like me (and the little girls they raise) see themselves as the joyful, loving, colorful, effervescent beings that they are. Those images just do NOT appear enough, and they are often barely existent in the world of fashion illustration. My goal is to create these images and offer them as widely as possible, and to continue celebrating the unique beauty and style that is US. I can’t wait to share with you guys what’s just over the horizon.