At the beginning of 2016, I decided to start taking my goals very seriously. I didn’t want to look back on another year disappointed in what I hadn’t accomplished. I know too many people that just live their life year-to-year without doing anything to improve their skills, lifestyle, or overall happiness.
I promised myself I’d close my 2016 calendar with a 2016 Year in Review. In that review, I listed off the biggest highlights and accomplishments from the year. It’s hard to believe yet another year has passed since then… and on the other hand, it feels like it was forever ago.
But like it or not, it’s almost 2018!
What I Accomplished in 2017
My primary focus for 2016 was to develop a foundation for myself as a professional hand-lettering artist. This involved tons of audience building, client work, networking, and writing… countless hours of writing. This was a very time-consuming set of commitments on top of a full-time day job.
As the beginning of 2017 drew near, I made the decision to pivot away from hand-lettering client work in the interest of focusing on calligraphy as an art form. This was a particularly difficult decision to make at the time. I had dedicated hundreds of hours to building a personal brand around something I felt like I was about to abandon. But in retrospect, I never would have reached this point had I not put in all that time.
That was the biggest takeaway. You’ll become paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision to the point where you won’t make a decision at all.
Fast forward to 2017 where my goals revolved around taking my personal brand and artwork to the next level off of a the foundation and audience I had already built. Here they are in no particular order.
Started a New Day Job
This will be my only non-calligraphy related accomplishment. Yes, I’ve had many personal accomplishments outside of calligraphy, but this is perhaps the most pivotal. For those that don’t know, I’m not a full-time calligrapher. I’d love to be one day, but it doesn’t pay all of the bills just yet!
In August, I left my role as the Director of UI Development for an agency I’ve been working at for 6 years. While leaving was a little bittersweet, I had accepted a new position at a small start-up out of Oakland, CA. So far, business is booming and we’re doing some incredible work. I’m beyond psyched for the opportunity and the continued growth we’re planning to experience in coming years. Not to mention that spending some quality time in California is a pretty sweet perk (especially for this Boston native)!
When I finally found clarity around my brand identity-crisis, my website needed some serious updates. I updated the majority of the back end and rewrote all my content to better position myself as an artist instead of someone providing a professional service. Then I gave the UX and design an overhaul and added e-store capabilities. My first goal was to begin selling products.
Published a 100 Page Fraktur Workbook
Any sort of formalized learning material surrounding blackletter calligraphy is seemingly non-existant. Many folks were reaching out to me seeking advice on how they could learn the craft themselves. This is what prompted me to create my Fraktur Workbook. This book contains everything an aspiring calligraphy artist will need to master the Fraktur hand.
Wrote a 4-Part Fraktur Mini-course
To support the release of my book, I published a 4-part mini-course that covers the history of Fraktur, what differentiates it from other styles of blackletter, and hands-on instructional information (including free printable guides) for artists to learn how to write the alphabet themselves.
Launched an Online Store
I’m not selling prints or canvases quite yet — but my new online store houses products to help calligraphy artists. My most popular items have been my Procreate brush sets. I spent weeks researching and experimenting to create the best blackletter brushes out there. I know this because I’ve literally bought every blacketter set out there to date. I’ve heard great reviews from hundreds (literally) of satisfied customers.
Accepted for Typism 4 and Several Other Books
It’s been a dream of mine to be featured in something as widely distributed as the Typism books. Typism 4 drops this march and will feature one of my favorite works. Stay tuned!
I also have some other features in future books and publications coming up this year.
5X’d my Instagram Following
Like I’ve said, the number of followers you have doesn’t matter as much as the quality. I recently hit 10,000 followers and while some of them might be bots or porn stars, I’ve been able to meet hundreds of new artists this year via Instagram. Instagram is still an incredible platform, even after all of these years!
Turned Down Dozens of Clients
To some, this might seem like the opposite of an accomplishment. But I was firm when I decided to begin turning down client work. This involved rejecting clients like Disney, several major clothing brands, 2 famous country musicians I’ve never heard of, and about 5,000 church organizations.
Moral of the story; if you’re serious about wanting to do something for yourself, you need to say no to other people.
12 Artist Spotlights
In the beginning of 2017, I decided to try something new. I wanted to reach out to the artists that I’ve been inspired by and ask them about their work. Having a dialogue with a fellow artist you don’t actually know personally, yet still have so much in common with, is incredibly encouraging. I decided to repurpose these conversations in into a medium that I could share with my blog readers. This became a fun monthly ritual that has benefited everyone involved.
2-Year Anniversary of Blog & Newsletter
This post marks my 103rd consecutive weekly blog post and is a continuation of a goal that I had set for myself in the beginning of 2016. I wanted to produce regular content uninterrupted for 2 years. And I did. It was NOT easy, but I learned so much and have developed some solid writing habits. Who would have thought there’d be so much to say on such a niche topic?
Onward to 2018!
I hope you had a great year. I’d love to hear about your accomplishments with your art, so feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to chat. But regardless of how you did this year, don’t let it stop you from doing bigger things next year!
I’m still in the process of fleshing out my 2018 goals. I have some exciting plans that I’ll be sharing very soon, but one thing I can tell you is that I won’t be writing as extensively for the blog each week. I’ll be focusing on other publishing mediums (way more video!) as well as putting some new habits in place to progress my calligraphy skills. But don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!
See you next year!