It's time for the highlights from 2018!
Click read more to see the full write-up!
I think 2018 has been the first year that I have really, truly felt like an artist. Like I am doing what I am meant to do, and not just playing around with a hobby. Since February, I have been booked solid with commissions, and have been pushing myself to get out there more. It has really been a year of business! As I look back at last year's write up, I can't say for sure if I have had really any specific art breakthroughs like I did in 2017. It has been more of a gradual increase in confidence in my abilities and myself in general, and I think a lot of that has to do with how much I filled my schedule with conventions and art markets. I felt like I ALWAYS had something to prepare for, even if that meant just making prints.
In February, I attended Texas Furry Fiesta for the first time. I would say that this con was my big kick-off for the year, although I didn't know it then. It also marked the first con I've ever done outside of my "home turf", the Southeastern US. When I signed up, I thought I would only be doing a couple of cons this year, but I still felt it was good to break away from the region I had been selling in and try somewhere new (it also helped that I had friends who wanted to go too). After all, if I was supposed to be a "real artist", I had to start getting out of my comfort zone. The piece to the right, March's illustration, is one of the larger commissions that was ordered at TFF (and one of my first for an overseas client! Cool!) TFF was an overwhelming success for my commission work.
Because TFF was such an amazing experience, I felt a lot more confident in doing new cons, and I felt more of a drive to do more. I started researching merchandise. While I absolutely love drawing for other people, after being booked up with commissions more than I ever had been before thanks to TFF, I realized I that just doing originals was not going to be sustainable for me. I now had a dream of being able to make the same kind of cash I did at TFF, but do it with a lot less work (Lazy? Maybe. Smart? Definitely). I ordered some test standees and acrylic charms to see how they would sell at FWA, and bought a big, fancy printer so I could make large prints at home. I also began signing up for more local art markets. I figured, while I absolutely love doing furry conventions, they are just too spread out to really make a living on. Plus I didn't want to have to go so far all the time; that's a lot of stress on a person!
Come June, my standees had sold well at FWA, so I ordered some stock, I had a stack of prints in a few different sizes, and I had a bunch of new originals that I thought would sell well at local, non-furry shows. This was the month I did my first local art markets AND my first real gallery show! To be honest, I felt completely out of my element. It was incredibly scary, but I met some great people and made at least enough cash that I made back what I put into it. I'm a bit surprised I decided to do more markets after the first one. I was incredibly unprepared: it was raining and windy so even with my pop-up tent, my paper goods were probably not the best thing to have out there. I didn't even have a bin for my prints, so they were just strewn over my tables! What a mess... But! I learned a lot and everyone I met were so supportive of different art styles that I decided I couldn't give up! A few weeks later, thanks to my first art market, I was all signed up to be a part of my first gallery show.* While neither the Ram of Improvidence (June) nor Mercury's Familiar sold (you can actually still buy them in my shop!), it was still a good experience and definitely one I would like to do again. I never get a chance to draw my spooky dead things, so it was incredibly refreshing to be able to draw them for an audience that I hoped would like them.
*(actually, I lied. I did do an "art show" in my town in the end of 2017. It was a horrible bust, and I was sick so I wasn't even actually able to go to the show itself. I did learn some things, but overall I realized that maybe small-town Rome wasn't the best place to sell my animal people and dead things)
By July, I was finally starting to get to the end of the FWA take-home orders, so I decided it was high time to do more print designs! I had been making do with my eeveelutions and other miscellaneous pieces, but I wanted to do more. More specifically, I wanted to do more in fandoms and of themes that I have always been a huge fan of! I still wasn't sure if prints would sell very well, and most of my artist friends told me that their prints never sell, but I was adamant about trying. At least I could make the prints at home and I didn't have to outsource to someone else! July's piece highlights this push for more prints, a push which has paid off. For some reason, my prints actually sell really well at both furry conventions and local art markets. I now have 26 unique prints in stock, all of varying fandoms and themes, with more in the works, and it all really took off thank's to July's piece! October and December are also both prints made for the express purpose of being prints!
In October, I did my last con of the year. My first far away, fly-to convention: Furpocalypse in Cromwell, CT. This con was a huge leap for me. Not only was I flying to the convention, which means I had to limit what I could take, I was also going alone. My usual con-buddies and my ever-supportive husband, couldn't make it to the con. I was still staying with friends, but they weren't my usual roommates, so I had no idea what would be in store for me. All-in-all, the convention went amazingly well. I think it was my best selling convention to date, even with the expense of the plane ticket. And, like TFF, Furpocalypse also opened the window to a completely new potential client base!
These two cons really made for perfect bookends to a busy year that was predominantly working towards confidence in myself and my art. While I know I still have a long way to go, 2018 was the year of putting myself out there and working on "Dragonmelde Illustrations the business", not just "Melde the person who draws"!