This past week, I’ve spent some time strolling down memory lane, refreshing myself on 2015’s accomplishments and challenges. I thought doing a sort-of annual review would make for more solid 2016 planning.
I poured through calendars, looked through photographs, and reviewed posts from my social media feeds to refresh myself on happenings in my personal and business life. Wow, so much happened in the past 12 months!
When 2015 began, I was employed full-time with the State of Alaska and I was doing art and pottery part-time around the day job.
In April, my husband and I had found and purchased a modest-sized and priced boat, which he planned to use for commercial hand-trolling. He had served as crew on a commercial fishing vessel the past two summers, but our intention was always for him to run his own boat. By spring 2015, it was time.
After getting the boat all set, we were planning to refinance a property that I owned in Anchorage.
Unexpected news, revising plans
In May, due to budget shortfalls with the State, I was laid off from my job. That was an unexpected development. I had planned to stay at the day job for about 5 years before retiring to work full-time at my art. Somehow it felt like Universe was encouraging me to do that sooner. “What are you waiting for?” it seemed to ask.
After learning about my layoff in May, and not knowing yet what my income stream would look like, we decided to put the Anchorage property on the market instead of refinancing. I’d tried twice before to sell without success, but the housing market looked much different this time.
We listed the property toward end of May. In less than a week, we had an offer. It was a cash offer, which meant the closing process would be much quicker than conventional financing would be. Thank you!
Easing in to my dream
For more than 20 years I’d been dreaming of doing art full-time, but fears about not being able to make enough money to live on kept me from taking that leap. Cautiously, after so many years of working long and hard for others, I thought this might be the time.
During the summer months, I eased my entry into the full-time artist role by taking a temporary 10-hour-per-week job at the local artists’ co-op gallery, in which I am also a member.
Proceeds from the sale of our Anchorage property allowed us to pay off debts and reduce monthly expenses. Very helpful with the loss of income from my day job. Between my husband’s retirement, his commercial fishing income, and my art sales, we have been doing OK. With these slower sales months, I’m looking for additional revenue streams, perhaps finding a way to use my graphic design skills to supplement my income. But that is a 2016 plan. Back to my review.
Ongoing education and projects
Throughout 2015, I participated in numerous online trainings, coaching groups, and classes. I adore learning and expanding my knowledge and skills. A few of the online programs included a Mentor’s Mastermind group with Robin Hallett and several of her Business Alignment offerings; a two-week, four-session class called “Permission to Be Creative and Make Money” with working artist Marissa Cummings (Creative Thursday); and during the last quarter of the year, a Creative Business Incubator program lead by multi-media artist Traci Bautista; and Vision Quest, a creative-fitness program with artistic muse Whitney Freya.
I participated in online art classes such as Story Circles, taught by Cassia Cogger, Printmaking Unleashed with Traci Bautista, a 21-day painting challenge with Whitney Freya, and Sketchbook Basics with Diane Bleck. I also took a metal engraving class and two art studio classes at the University of Alaska campus here in Sitka.
I successfully completed an online 100-day project challenge in which I made beads, and boy did I make a lot of beads in 100 days of working on that. It was a great challenge and learning experience. I gave myself permission to just do a little bit each day, but usually once I started I did more than a little bit. It was a wonderful experience and I was able to share my process each day by posting to Instagram. Most of the days I posted photographs but I even managed to make a few videos of some of the process too.
Expanding comfort zone
Speaking of videos, I also made three music videos, which I posted on my personal Facebook page. These were something I did for my own amusement while I practiced playing my guitar and singing. Music is another of my great passions, one which I do not give much space for, so I’m happy to share it there to my friends and family. It actually feels like quite a feat for an introvert, such as myself.
Some 2015 highlights
A few other highlights of my year included:
- Creating graphic art, watercolors, doodles, and photographs in addition to pottery.
- Traveling to Anchorage and Palmer to see family – three of my four adult children – and in particular my one-and-only grandson, who was up from Louisiana visiting his aunt (my daughter). During this trip I was also able to sign closing papers on the sale of our property.
- Attending Camp GLP, a summer camp for grownups held in upstate New York, where I got to meet in person several online friends and a number of coaches/mentors/artists whom I had followed for several years online.
- Rearranging my studio, creating more space to work and making pottery wheel more accessible.
- Making jewelry from beads made during the 100-day project mentioned above.
- Creating opportunities for online sales by making a sales page on my Website and adding items to a Spreesy shop and Etsy.
- Creating a space for a regular painting practice.
- Participating in three “personal retreat days,” in which I spent the day without electronics and simply took time for myself and to listen for inner guidance
- Using one-way tickets for myself and husband, we flew to Anchorage with a list of potential motorhomes. We trusted we’d find the perfect one and drive it back. After looking at eight vehicles listed on Craigslist, we narrowed it down to our perfect motorhome. We had a wonderful adventure traveling back home, camping in the motorhome along the Alaska Highway to Haines and riding ferry home to Sitka. We look forward to many more road trip adventures.
- Helping my Mom with a project by taking pictures of each page of her treasured family scrapbook so she could have it in a digital form to share with other family members.
- Practicing my graphic design skills to create several posters announcing First Friday events at the co-op gallery I belong to. Also, during the holidays, using my page design/layout skills to building a full-page ad for the gallery.
- Created a page in a Doodle Girl & Friends collaborative coloring book with Diane Bleck, creator of the Doodle Institute.
- Enjoying some rare time with my husband’s three (adult) kids during the holidays. They all live elsewhere so it was nice to have them all in the same place.
- Participating in the Sitka Artisan’s Market, a three-day holiday sale.
- Increase in sales. In March, my pottery at the co-op gallery moved to a more visible location, and sales grew. Between the new display location, my participation in the three-day market, and a handful of online sales, my art income was three times higher in 2015 than it was the prior year.
Thank you and farewell 2015. Welcome 2016!
I am excited about the infinite possibilities that this new year may bring. Do you have some favorite 2015 moments? Feel free share in the comments. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Wow what a year! Congrats on so many wonderful life changing events. Your pottery is beautiful. I love learning all different art modalities, too. I took a pottery course many years ago. I am taking a printing course at the local art center.
Thank you! I appreciate your visiting my blog. How wonderful that you are taking a printing course. I dabble with printmaking but would love to learn more someday. Good luck in your course.
I am visiting Alaska end of May and beginning of June. Is there somewhere I can put on my itinerary to see your work and perhaps purchase a souvenir?
Hello, Susan! I live in Sitka. Will you be visiting Southeast Alaska? It is a huge state! If you are coming to Sitka, my work is on display downtown at a co-op gallery named Island Artists Gallery. I also have some items for sale on Etsy and on my store page on this Web site. Those items are not specifically Alaskan but handmade by me. It sounds like you have a fun trip planned. 🙂