Monday, January 5, 2015

Year In Review: 2014

(Before the post, here's one last holiday gift for you: I made my August-December sketchbooks available as a pay-what-you-want digital download!  Check it out here!)

Hello!  2014 is over and this is my annual year-in-review post (see also: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009).
**I had a LOT of 2014 photos that I wanted to share one last time....they're dispersed throughout the post.  Sometimes they're relevant to the text around them aaaaand sometimes they're really not.**
Accomplishments / Highlights:
-Travel!  I made the most of my allotted time in Europe, and stretched my dollars as far as they could go getting to London, Amsterdam, Amiens, Angouleme, Lyon, Annecy, Strasbourg, Granada, Madrid, and Barcelona.  I went on multiple trips with my boyfriend and multiple trips with my friend Mary who lives in London and who I don't get to see very often.  I got to travel with my family and take a side trip with just my brothers.  I ate all the things, smelled all the flowers, walked all the neighborhoods, and visited all of the museums.  I think I'll be savoring the memories I made in Europe for years to come.
-I was also able to visit New York and LA, spend time with friends there, and visit a couple of awesome animation studios.
-New friends!  I met incredible people all over the world, visited comic studios and stayed with lovely people.  I learned to ask for help and be more vulnerable/open.
-Got to spend time with a really special person in Paris ♥
-Finished my first ever 24 Hour Comic at the Maison des Auteurs event in Angouleme!  That was a crazy, unforgettable experience. I've tried the challenge twice before in the States, and was asleep by 2am each time, so I was very pleased to finally complete the challenge thanks to the good energy and good company at the Angouleme event. ^_^
-Exhibited at my first 2 French conventions!  Bulles de Neiges and Rendez-vous de la Bande Dessinee d'Amiens. So great! I love the French convention system.
-Attended my first Annecy Film Festival (pleeeeease don't let it be the last, because wow)
-Got way better at French!  Passed the B2 level DELF exam.
-Organized some meet-ups in New York & Brooklyn for anyone who followed my work online and wanted to chat/eat/draw in person, and those were SO GREAT!  I got to meet rad people and put faces to screen names.  I definitely want to do this in the future when I travel.
-Experimented more with animation (new samples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), bought an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription & subscription so I could get better at After Effects/Premiere/Flash.
-Submitted a short animation to LoopdeLoop.  By the way, it was accepted!!  It'll screen with lots of other submissions in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, LA, and Paris in January.  If you're near any of those cities, I hope you'll check it out!  I know it's only 11 seconds, but it's my first animation to screen anywhere, and I'm excited. :D
-I had my first freelance animation job helping out the Aerial Animation team for America's Got Talent!
-I also received some fantastic news just a week ago (on my birthday, if you believe it), inviting me to storyboard an episode for an animated series for the first time!  It's even a show that I'm a fan of, and my boarding partner is someone I like and respect immensely...! *_* Very excited and determined to do my best work.
-Reviewed 14 movies for Spoilers
-Filled half a dozen sketchbooks while traveling, and published them digitally with MonkeyBrain Comics
-Rode on a segway in Munich.
-Swam in Lake Annecy in my underwear.
-Cried at Alhambra (it's so beautiful!) *_*
-Visited the Charles Dickens museum in one of his former homes in London
-Got really comfortable drawing digitally and coloring, thanks to Home Is Where The Internet Is! (38 pages this year)
-Had a reader offer to translate my work for the first time.
-Signed up for a healthcare plan.  ...Not exciting, but, you know, an adult moment.  Also, I'm as old as my mother was when I was born. (0___o)
-Started playing the ukulele! There's a ukulele open mic in Paris that I went to a couple of times and performed at once (ahh!). Playing ukulele in Paris was a great ice-breaker and super fun.
-Predictably, I came back from Europe with a lot less money than I left with.  This puts a constraint on near-future choices, and pressures me to take commercial work (delaying comics and personal projects).
-I have been living with my parents since coming back from Europe.  They are truly wonderful parents and I'm lucky to have the option to stay with them, but this is not where I want to be at age 27. @_@
-It was another year without a new creator-owned book. :-/ I mean, A Boy & A Girl came out last December, and I LOVE that project, but I didn't work on a new creator-owned graphic novel in 2014.
-I applied to a lot of animation and gaming positions in the second half of 2014, and had veeeeery little success.  They're competitive industries, but my portfolio, education, and experience are also just not up to snuff yet.  I gotta level up and gain some EXP if those kinds of positions are important to me.
-I fell off the exercise wagon pretty badly this fall and winter.  I also got super hermit-y in my quest to save money, apply to jobs, learn new software, and make new portfolio samples.  It's a constant struggle to find the right life balance, but I know I have to do better.  Physical health and having a social life are both important.
2015 Goals: 
-Draw the first 5 issues of Over the Surface!!  This will be my first creator-owned series I'm both writing and illustrating, and I want to do my best-best work. :D
-Do an amazing job on my first project with ______
-Do an amazing job with my storyboarding assignment for _______
-Exercise regularly, stretch every day
-Stay on top of your French!  Listen to French-language podcasts on the bus.  Read out of French novels every night before bed and write down new words.  Do all of the homework between classes.
-Stay in touch with far-away friends.  Answer emails and messages more quickly.
-Reapply for the Maison des Auteurs
-Move out of my parents' house :,D
-Publish a print collection of my Europe sketches
-Work with a French publisher for the first time, even if it's just a translation/reprint project or guest art for someone else's book
-Finish the first Nettles story with Terry Blas and Ben Dewey in time to print a minicomic for Emerald City and TCAF!
-Get comfortable working in Flash and Illustrator, and get better at using After Effects.  Become more competitive for animation/game design jobs.  Work on animated shorts & game jams if at all possible.
-Compile an animation demo reel! :D
What did we learn? 
-I'm capable of living with a boyfriend :) Moving in together doesn't have to be a big dramatic episode like you see on sitcoms.  Cohabitation can be really nice!
-I'm capable of living out of a backpack, and travel is way more fun the lighter I pack.  Even at home, the 10 Item Wardrobe is my jam. (Related: if you read Home Is Where The Internet Is, you would probably enjoy this Poorcraft comic about traveling smart/cheap!)
-There's a lot I don't know about my own country, and huge swaths of it I've never seen.  I met French people who knew more about the American South than me, and it made me feel like I was neglecting something important.
-There are some major cultural differences between French and American conversation!  Debate feels way more competitively playful in France (versus genuinely divisive in America...).  It's an art form and I have NOT practiced it enough.
-Having developed, thoughtful opinions and an arsenal of convincing rhetoric (plus knowing my politesse) can make a big difference in everyday interactions going my way or not.
-It's polite to come to a party with something to say, and be up-to-date on current events so I can propose and join conversations.  I shouldn't leave it up to other people to entertain me!
-Skype.  Skype will save us all.  Also, sending/receiving postcards and letters is super satisfying and worth the time.
-A full year is too long to be away from family.  My mom visited twice while I was gone, but I missed my dad and brothers like crazy.
-I do OK in dangerous situations!  Thank you, martial arts education.  My instincts know how to be vocal/loud and fight back in a pinch! (Yes, there's a story attached to this. I hope to get around to turning it into a comic for Home Is Where The Internet Is)
-Airports can actually be fun when I go early with a sketchbook and decide to get better at my  gesture drawings :)
-Visiting friends is infinitely better than staying in hotels. I like seeing how people live, spending time with friends I don't see too often, and getting a taste of real life in their city. (Not to mention the difference in cost!)
-I have a LOT of hosting to pay forward in my next housing situation.
-Travel is expensive.  If I want travel to be a part of my life, I have to budget stringently for it and make career choices accordingly.
-I love natural history museums.

Final thoughts / miscellany: 
Fraaaaaance :,(