I can't believe it's the end of the year already! It's been an... interesting... year for the world, so I hope you're all cuddled up in a warm blanket, preferably with a mince pie and a nice cup of tea. You deserve it!
For the last newsletter of the year (and the decade, wow) I'm going to be chatting about my highlights of 2019, picking out my favourite bits of TV, music and other bits and bobs. I'll also be looking back at my time spent as a freelance illustrator so far and trying to figure out what on earth I'm doing next year!
Coming up this month: how I found my first 7 months as an illustrator and my best picks from 2019
It's Christmas again!
It's a wrap on another year for planet Earth! After a long year of politics and worldly challenges I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that it's time for two weeks of lying on sofas eating everything in sight.
Before I can even start to think about next year, I thought it would be a good idea to look back on 2019. I don't normally do new year's resolutions, but with it being graduation year and all, I decided to write down a few goals I would aim for ('aim' being the key word here). So without further ado, it's time for a debrief!
If you've visited me at a craft fair this year, you may have seen this page from my January sketchbook. I often use it as a display book because it's got a bit of everything: life drawing, TV sketching and gallery trips. Exactly what you'd expect from a university student fresh from the Christmas holidays and looking to get into new productive drawing habits! (Spoiler: it didn't last...)
It's only when someone pointed it out to me at a show a couple months ago that I remembered I had written down five goals to aim for during the year. Of course, back in January, 12 months seemed like plenty of time to get through the list. When I first looked back on them in September, I was quick to condemn myself to failure - but on closer inspection (and a bit of positivity) I didn't actually do too badly!
Goal 1: Surround yourself with good people
Of all the goals on this list, this is probably the one I've done the best at. I think we can all agree that spending time with people you despise isn't much fun, but I'm pretty grateful for the friends I've had this year. I've met lots of lovely people at craft fairs too, not to mention some of the kind reviews I've had on my Etsy shop - thank you!
It probably sounds a little weird to have this as a goal. But having a positive support network is super important - especially for creatives. I couldn't count the amount of times I've nearly given up on projects throughout the year, spurred on by good feedback from people around me. Sometimes the advice was to give up, and that's okay too. As long as the network keeps me moving forward in a positive direction, it's doing a good job.
Goal 2: Become confident in French
As I’m writing this newsletter, I have now surpassed 365 days of practising French on Duolingo. You’re probably thinking that makes me a fluent French speaker - heck, I should be applying for French citizenship, tout suite! Well... not quite.
That’s not to say I haven’t made improvements, though. Throughout the year I’ve been trying to consume more French media, whether that be podcasts, Netflix shows or music. I'm particularly proud that I made it through three seasons of Call My Agent, watching it primarily with the French subtitles. I definitely didn’t pick up every word or phrase, but I got a good gist of the story and gained some new vocabulary (most of it swear words).
I'm a long way off being a fluent speaker, but I'm much more confident with my listening abilities and will be continuing my French journey into 2020, maybe even picking up some tutored classes.
Goal 3: Be debt free
As any grads will know, getting through three years of university without a part-time job takes a financial toll. Add to that seven months of building a freelance business without full-time work and you've got a recipe for a bit of a cash shortage.
My goal at the beginning of the year was to soar into a positive bank account and clean up my finances a little. Whilst I didn't quite get there, I definitely made some progress, and my Etsy shop is busier than ever before with 50 new products launched this year. Online stores are a bit of a gamble though, and you never know which items are going to be hits or misses.
Goal 4: Establish your own business
Despite the slow finances, I'm still proud of the progress I made with my business in 2019. I've had the shop open for three years, but the past six months has been the smoothest in terms of operation, with 500+ orders being hit this year so far.
I made my craft fair debut too, meeting loads of awesome people who now have my artwork inside their homes. There's plenty more growth to do, but I think I can safely say I have established an illustration business!
Goal 5: Be happy in your job
I can't claim to have done that many jobs in my life, but from the few experiences I've had finding happiness in employment has always been a struggle.
In my most memorable shift as a member of event staff, I was collecting a tray of dirty glasses at a corporate event inside an aquarium. It ended up with me dropping the entire tray onto the floor, spreading broken glass all over the exhibit. Maybe I was distracted by the fish, or perhaps the growing loss of will to live just stopped my hands from working. I vowed that day never to go back to that job - I was going to make my business work!
The easiest way to tell if I'm enjoying a job is 'The Weekend Test'. Do I wake up on Monday immediately wishing it was the weekend? Okay, most of us do no matter where you work. How about Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday? If I'm spending five days of the week wishing it was the other two, that's 71% of the year I'm wishing I was doing something else.
The past seven months doing illustration has been my most positive 'job' experience so far. That's not to say I don't struggle to get out of bed sometimes, and there's been plenty of anxious days when income is low or I don't want to send an email. But who doesn't want to draw houseplants and research wine all day? I can't think of anything I would rather do.
So sticking with this new tradition, I've written up some new goals to take with me into the new year. I won't delve into them too much (that's for newsletter 19!) but the overall theme for 2020 is perseverance. It's a strong possibility that I could be finding some employment next year, which would make building my business and writing this newsletter a bit more difficult, but I'm determined to keep it up!
I've got plenty more topics lined up for this newsletter, as I've really enjoyed writing it so far. There's also more poster designs coming in the new year, with A2 sizes rolling out on more items. I'd love to branch into some different product types too, so watch this space!
The best of 2019
Even if I didn't meet all of my goals, it's still been a very busy year! Despite that, in-between graduating and running my shop I've been enjoying lots of new TV, books and podcasts in 2019 (with many of them being featured at the end of these newsletters). So I thought I would compile a top 10 of my favourite bits I think you should check out.
My top 10 must-watch/listen/read
1. Aytipical (Netflix series)
This show released last year on Netflix, returning with season 2 a couple of weeks ago. It follows autistic main character Sam and his family and friends as they journey through school, marriages and friendships. To describe it in one phrase would be 'a warm hug' - it'll make you laugh, cry and everything in-between as you fall in love with the cast.
2. Montaigne - Complex (album)
Sometimes you just need a good beat with some killer vocals to belt out in the car. Montaigne's debut album Complex is exactly that from start to finish, and probably takes the spot as the album I've listened to most this year.
3. One Day at a Time (Netflix series)
We're back to Netflix, this time with a sitcom that probably takes the title as my favourite comedy series of all time (sorry, Friends). It's so brilliantly written with the perfect balance of humour and real issues, as we follow a Chilean-American family making their way through life in the city. The highlight has got to be Rita Moreno as the fabulous Cuban abuelita Lydia.
4. Mark Ronson - Late Night Feelings (album)
Chances are you've probably heard most of the songs on this album, as they've been topping the charts all year. The album in it's entirety is a great collection of pop-bops, with singers Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Camila Cabello lending their talents.
5. Christine and the Queens - Chris (album)
If you've never listened to a Christine and the Queens album before, this is the one to start with. It technically released last year, but Chris and her amazing dancers have been touring it in some hypnotic set pieces over the past few months.
A special shout out to Chris' single Gone with Charli XCX too. It's one of my favourite songs to release this year!
6. Call My Agent (Netflix series)
I had a whale of a time watching this series, all about a talent agency for actors in Paris. It's laugh-out-loud funny with French humour and a truly gripping plot.
7. Pose (BBC iPlayer series)
Set in the 1980s ballroom scene, Pose is such an important commentary on American and LGBT+ history. It features the largest transgender cast of any TV series, giving it a depth of heart unlike anything I've ever seen in TV before.
8. Gentleman Jack (BBC iPlayer series)
Gentleman Jack is a quirky period drama based on the diaries of lesbian landowner Anne Lister, set in Halifax. It's got an entertaining plot that doesn't take itself too seriously, and is set to return for season 2 next year.
9. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (book by Yuval Noah Harari)
This book genuinely changed the way I view humanity. It's a catch-all of topics, covering the history of our species from the Stone Age all the way to the 21st century. Considering the vastness of the book, everything is explained extremely well, keeping you on track and interested for the entire journey. If you've ever wondered why society was formed in the way we see it today, this is the book for you.
10. Paper Girls (graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang)
I couldn't end a top 10 without including my favourite graphic novel of all time! It's a time-travelling science-fiction epic that concludes in volume six, released this month. I haven't bought the final chapter yet, but I can't wait to read it and catch up on the characters I've grown to love so much over the issues.
Some stuff I’ve been enjoying this month
Me outside our exhibition at the cARTon Gallery in Catford, December 2019
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Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!
See you next month,
- Georgina :)
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