2021 year in review: Top lessons and achievements

2021 was a pretty contrasting year for me. I felt secure in my work, but anxious for my partner, family and friends. Sad for what we suffered and price paid for safety, and yet so grateful to be living out this pandemic in that relative safety of Adelaide, Australia where we have manage to hold the virus and the life disrupting consequences mostly at bay for so long. I have definitely developed unhealthy habits of frequent news checking.

Working on improving my skills and bringing The Lonely Giant into the world gave me purpose and helped keep me sane.

To review the year in my bullet journal I wrote down a list of 12 achievements and 17 lessons learned. In no particularly order, here are the top 5.

My Top 5 Achievements

I studied things
I put in significant hours of study to get the most of of the CGMA sketch mentorship with Peter Han at the beginning of the year.

I made a thing!
I completed my first solo comic, The Lonely Giant and published it on my website, Webtoon, Tapas, social media and in print.

People supported and bought that thing
With the help of 128 backers I raised $3920 on Kickstarter to print the book, 245% of my actual goal.

That thing meant something to people. 💗
I got the most amazing and wonderful comments of people enjoying The Lonely Giant, and feedback from some readers about how meaningful and important the story was to them that made me cry. It's absolutely for them that I made the story and it means so much to me that I was able to write a story that affected them in the way that stories have affected me in my past.

I moved my thing
I danced in my first first dance performance for my school's end of year showcase which was a little stressful because I had a lot on but exhilarating and wonderful.

My Top 5 Lessons Learned

I need to give my brain space to be bored, wander and reflect.

I am a big podcast and audiobook listener, but as the year went on I found myself filling every second I could listening to something. On my walks, my commute, making breakfast, doing chores, or 'mindless tasks' I would always have headphones on. I feel like I ended up contributing to a small burn out by never giving my brain time to be reflect, recharge, wander or think. And certainly now that I am back to writing again, I've realised that if I don't it's basically impossible for me write well without doing so.

Dip pens are cheap, awesome and fun!

After working traditionally at the start of the year with pens and watching episodes of the Japanese behind-the-scenes Manga creator documentary Manben, I was amped again to try dip pens again. Getting the nips and working out the right kind of paper took a bit of research (paper choice is a lot more important than I'm used too) but ultimately supplies are very affordable and the scratch of the nib on paper is so satisfying and the level of control and line weight variation you can achieve is just *chiefs kiss*. Love it.

Start fulfilling Kickstarter tiers from highest to lowers rather than the other way around

I didn't do this but I wish I had. It did mean that the majority of international packages got sent sooner but if I had gone higher to lower I would have been not only rewarding the backers who most financially supported me, but with the way the Australia Post business accounts work it gives me the opportunity to jump up a bracket and get cheaper shipping.

Letter mail is a good option for lower kickstarter tiers domestically, but with customs forms for international shipping it is probably not worth the hassle.

Long and boring story short, I had to hand write and re-label a lot of packages. :(

Pre-prep not only results in better images but makes the process more fun too

Towards the end of the year I watched this video by Lee White on How to do great illustrations every time on youtube after I think it was mentioned on the 3 point perspective podcast. This is all stuff I 'knew' to do and kinda did, but for some recent commissions I tried to keep going with thumbnails instead of stopping at the first thumbnail idea that looked good to me. I didn't quite go to 50 but the results was still a lot better, several times I ended up with 3 ideas and I had a hard time choosing which one to work on because I wanted to work on all of them.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!