Had I not caught the flu a week ago, I might have written an update sooner. But alas, no. The flu, I did get, and so I'm forced to try and catch up with the rest of my life which kept moving while I was down for the count. Since to this point I was either coughing too hard or too drugged out on cold medicine to pull such a post together, I'll go ahead and get this obligatory look back at 2012 over with. Please bear with me.
If there is a word I spoke more than any other over the course of last year, it would be "funk." I mentioned my funk several times on this blog and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I've ever made clear the reasons for it (though I must admit to being a little unclear about the reasons, myself). Suffice it to say that I've been pretty dissatisfied with the work I've been doing, have been pretty unfulfilled by the assignments I've been getting, and overall I feel artistically underdeveloped. I feel like I should be further down the road than I am quality-wise, and I'm really questioning the financial value of the whole endeavor. In addition to these feelings, a variety of external reasons prevented me from completing as many paintings last year as is typical for me. On the other hand, the few paintings I did complete were quite a bit larger than my work tends to be, so it's probable that I came close to covering the same amount of surface area over the course of the year. All the while, I crept the closest I've ever gotten to throwing in the towel and calling it quits as an illustrator.
Yeah, you read that right. I almost walked away from it all. In fact, that idea still isn't off the table for me. Despite several attempts to kickstart some sort of positivity over the course of last year, I never quite managed to shake the cloud that I saw hanging over me. While I was getting increasingly frustrated, I didn't want to make any rash decisions, either. So, in the waning months, I committed to a different approach for the beginning of this year. Perhaps less work wasn't the answer. Perhaps I needed to try and power through the doldrums by taking on more work. I agreed to a few appearances at Magic tournaments, and began accepting assignments again at normal numbers. I figured taking this route would either succeed in rebooting my point of view or reconfirm all my feeling about the job and at least inform the next step — be it to walk away or veer off in a new direction. Either way, it would be a step forward.
Now, whether this plan works and 2013 shapes up to be a good one is, of course, a mystery. At the very least I'm optimistic about it all, as the number 13 has always been pretty lucky for me. 'Course I don't exactly buy into all that kind of stuff, but I'll take what I can get at this point. What I know for sure is that I'll be signing a whole lot of stuff in the near future, will be back to painting away at some paid gigs again, and will hopefully find my way back to being at least a little okay with myself and my work.
In the meantime, I'll go ahead and answer some questions that one or two of you may be pondering. First, what does this all mean for my personal work? Even if I were to walk away from illustration, I wouldn't walk away from painting. The personal work would get done. For the time being, it'll just have to return to the background. I know that I want to complete the first big piece, but I'm also not in a rush. As I've said before, I'd rather take my time and not flub it in then interest of getting it out of the way. While I already have plans for a second large piece, the idea isn't going anywhere and there's no reason for me to rush things. I may end up with plenty of time to commit to its completion in another couple months, so I'm not too worried. Besides, I should have another update by the end of this week.
Second, what about the blog? With all the writing and travel, will you continue to update it? The short answer is yes. Whether or not I've overextended myself for the coming two months remains to be seen, but I don't see why I can't post something up here once or twice a week during that time. Will it necessarily be updates of new work with pictures and such? Not likely, as I don't have a whole lot coming out anytime soon and the stuff I'll be working on can't be shown. But I do happen to have more than a few posts in various stages of abandonment that I should be able to bang into something more serviceable. Will they be valuable? Dunno. Will they be entertaining? Couldn't say. I'll try on both fronts.
Third, what was that big earth-shattering evento teased in the last post? I still can't say. I've already mentioned that it's not impending children or any kind of marital woes. It's also not major illness or a puppy (that last one being much to my wife's chagrin). I'll leave it at this: the rumblings are big, the impact would be substantial, and it'll be hanging in the air for another three to five months. Maybe I'll be able to talk more about it then, maybe not. Point is that I can't really shed more light on it so this'll be the last I speak of it until I can. In fact, I probably should just have not even brought it up again.
Anyway, I've got a a plan to start implementing. Sketches to do, laundry to wash, etc. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that 2013 will bring more upbeat and positive things both for me, and for all the folks reading this. Also, I sincerely hope yours is flu-free 2013, alas it is too late for me.