Goals For 2020 Part 2

I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

Be Spookier

This goal brings out the spooky little kid in me. I have always tried to strike a balance between creating work that lots of people can enjoy, and creating weird spooky silly little art for a very niche market of folk like me. This year I want to be brave and create Moore of the art that makes me so happy to create. It’s less about being more spooky I suppose, and more about having less inhibitions. I want to feel freer to create outside of what I perceive to be societal norm. Where is the fun in art that follows the rules?

Make More, Increase Handmade Offerings

I want to improve my craftsmanship, learn new skills and experiment a bit more. This means setting time aside specifically for making. In the last year I have spent dramatically less time practicing ceramics. I want to bring it back into focus and learn more wheel skills. I have product ideas for ceramics that I would like to explore too, aswell as some more ambitious plans for sculptures.

I’d also like to practice some more traditional printing techniques. Last year I dipped my toe into Lino printing and I’d light to explore this more. I’m keen to experiment with new techniques too, such as screen printing onto ceramic slabs for building.

Work Less, Live More

Striking up a better work/life balance is a priority for me this year. I genuinely believe that it will be good for my business as well as me. By making sure I have clearer boundaries it is easier to stay focused, and keep my ideas fresher, my enthusiasm high and give myself the distance you need from your work at times to be able to make the right decisions. I aim to read more books, cook more meals and spend more time with friends, because it’s all a bit sad I haven’t been making more time for it recently, and I want to do something about it!

Goals for 2020: Part 1


I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.

-Shakeup My Stockists

-Secure more painting commissions in 2020

-Be spookier

-Make more, increase handmade offerings

-Work Less, Live More

-Collaborate

-Improve branding

-Learn more digital skills

My goals are a lot different to last years. Last years goals felt like milestones I wanted to reach, full of facts and figures in an attempt to quantify success. For 2020 my approach is as reflective as it is about trying something new. This last year has been so brilliant, and I want to keep learning, improving and building on what I have achieved so far.

Shakeup my Stockists

This was a tough one as last year a goal of mine was to be stocked in 2 shops, and after getting a brilliant 7 stockists I am now looking to reduce them. This is because I have been able to try a range of different models, working with a range of hops in a range of cities. I am learning what does and doesn’t work for me and the capabilities and priorities that I have for my illustration work. I am planning to remove my work from some of my existing stockists and focus more on working with shops on a Sale or Return or wholesale basis. Excitingly I have already begun this transformation of my business and aim to find new partners to work with throughout 2020.

Secure More Painting Commissions in 2020

It might not be clear in the title of this one, but I’m not necessarily looking to do more painting commissions than i did in 2019, I just want to keep doing them! Over this last year I have learnt so much and had such incredible opportunities to work on murals and sculpture paintings across the UK. My goal for 2020 is to find more and grow my experience and portfolio in this area even further. I am happily already in talks about some sculptures and murals for this next year, so I just need to keep everything crossed that they come good.

2019, A Year in Review


2019 has been a pretty awesome year for my business. It all really ramped up for me and revisiting some of my highlights in the last few blogs is really just a handful of the year’s achievements. I really got to step up my experience too, from huge murals to book covers. It is safe to say I surpassed my expectations for the year as i outlined in February 2019.

I even went as far as to set some new goals midway through the year. 

My First Set of Goals

-Get 1200 followers on instagram

-Have products stocked in 2 stockists

-Increase to 100 sales on Etsy

-Have a stall at a niche market

-Get 20 reviews on etsy

-Increase etsy product number to 50

-Invest in a new type of product

-Secure a large paid commission

I reviewed those goals before writing more, but happily and surprisingly I absolutely smashed them. Well, with the exception that I listed 49 products on Etsy, but I think that’s ok. I have doubled my etsy review goal, tripled my stockists target and had six times the number of large commissions that I had hoped for. The success of 2019is going to be a tough one to replicate in 2020. 

My Revised Goals

-Secure a mural commission using my characters and style

-be approached for a large scale commission without applying

-trial a pop up shop

-run an arts event (market, workshop, drawing class)

-get agency representation

This new revision of goals wasn’t quite as successful. However, a lot for his was down to willing. I chose not to go in the direction of running my own events. After all, I do more than enough of that in my alternate employment. It’s always going to be something I am able to do if I turn my mind to it. I have no doubt about that. Similarly I did not put very much time into researching and preaching agency representation. I also didn’t trial any pop up shops as I didn’t find any with terms I liked. 

Unfortunately for me I wasn’t approached for a larger scale commission without applying. That’s ok. I successfully got many and have started to be approached about smaller commissions. This was always a big goal and will come with time. I was invited to apply for a large commission too, so it is all going in the right direction as far as I am concerned.

What I did achieve was securing a mural commission in my style. I was voted for by residents of Armley to create a 14 foot mural of my ‘Nice to Be Nice’ characters as part of a local regeneration project. It was a brilliant opportunity and a huge portfolio boost, as well as genuinely fun to take part in.

That’s a Wrap

I am really pleased with what I achieved in 2019. What is exciting about it is that I have so many ideas and such a big drive for taking it forward into 2020, but in a way that allows me to have time to relax, spend time socially and enjoy walks with the pupper on my days working at home. It is going to be hard to grow more than I have done in this last year, because it has been so incredible, but for me 2020 is more about refining my work and focusing on the quality and streamlined approach to how I run my illustration business. It’s about keeping hold of the things I have loved doing in 2019, doing more of them and doing them better.

Thankyou to everyone who has supported me through my journey so far and I hope that you can enjoy sticking it me in the year to come. 

What the hell am I doing?

Finding direction in self employment

It’s been just over a year now since I started my journey as an illustrator. Now we’re over 200 products later, from 25mm badges to 5ft wallaby statues. 30 commissions, 950 instagram followers and a handful of collaborations. Heck, it’s even 31 blog posts. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in this year, but it’s not just been win after win and out there on your own can be a daunting place.

 

What do now?

My business strategy has been something of a headless chicken approach so far. I’ve been like an excitable puppy, running around looking for opportunities and jumping at them, tail wagging. It’s worked well and is the reason that I have achieved so much in this first year. A lot of graft, determination and research! Is it enough though? Probably not. In terms of long term I have some ideas but I’ve never tried to strategize them. I’m a bit of an energy ball and I throw myself at things quite passionately.

 

The problem is that when I can’t find any suitable opportunities I start to scratch my head a bit. Taking time to caretake, practice and just wait doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not particularly scared of burnout because I’m so happy with everything I am doing and I don’t begrudge myself days off when I need them. My struggle is more with dialling down that puppy behaviour when there isn’t something endlessly exciting on the immediate horizon.

 

How important is a business plan anyway?

Unfortunately I’ve a feeling that the answer is probably pretty important. I think that I’ve gotten by so far because although I don’t have a document labeled ‘business plan’ I’ve got the components of it. My toolkit comprises of a thorough budget and I analyse products, fairs and marketing costs and income. I listen to feedback, I think about what I’d like to achieve and as I’ve said before, I do a LOT of research. Plus I have an incredibly comprehensive and colour coded calendar spreadsheet which keeps me on schedule and I use Trello project management software to track everything I do right down to this very blog. In fact, I’m so obsessive about my admin that surely a business plan would just be like a collage of all the info I already have? Even this blog encourages me to reflect on what I’ve done so far and where I want to go.

 

Five year plans are not, and never will be my style. They seem so inflexible. The fear of becoming obsessed by a predetermined list of goals written four years ago is not a responsive enough methodology for me. My annual goals are the closest I’m comfortable with, and even they are out of my comfort zone.  

 

I guess the main thing I need to be wary of is to do the unfun stuff too. Prospecting is repetitive, HMRC forms are unavoidable. Being reflective, on top of the paperwork and focused are the only ways that this thing is going to work.

 

Wish Me Luck!