Ellen Million (ellenmillion) wrote,
Ellen Million

2014 Artwork (and writing) Retrospective (part 2 - numbers and crunching)

I decided not to do a July-December image-intensive post... because after June, I started doing those monthly and it seems redundant to do that all over again. (You can see them at the monthly roundup tag)

But I AM interested in looking at some of the totals I got to, and examining how the things I did related to my goals as I think about what goals I need for the next year.

Sketches for Sketch Fest: 48

Not shabby! I feel good about this number - the sketching help me loosen up and made ideas flow, even when I don't go back and finish them. (And this year, I went back and finished a rather stunning number of them. In ink, at least.)

Finished pieces: 67 (NOT counting the sea monster scale chart individually... 4 were collaborations)

I am enormously happy to find that I did more than one piece a week for the whole year. Not steadily - those 31 Inktober pieces in October helped out! They are mostly little pieces, but some are highly detailed, and there are also 9 full-sized coloring pages in that count.

Finished color pieces: 5

There were 9 if you count collaborations, but I don't feel good doing that. And one of my 5 was just an ACEO, all of them were 8.5 x 11 or smaller. I really fell down on this. My (lame) excuse is that it's very hard to do work in color with a 2-year old who likes to touch things wandering around.

Poetry: 6 (Torn World)
Short Stories: 9 6 (Torn World) 2 (River Twine) 1 (Something New)
Metafiction: 5 (Torn World, published)... + 8 (Torn World, unpublished) + 20 character sheets (unapproved) + 2 major rewrites.

My writing mojo at the beginning of this year was... not good. I felt like a hack and hated where I was going with Torn World. Some of that was having written myself into a corner, and some of that was not getting good writing time, and some of that was just low self-esteem. But the stories I did sit down and hammer out I felt were better than my previous work. The metafiction was fun and freeing, and about halfway through the year I figured out how to fix some of my writing roadblocks. (Basically, throw out the bits that were holding everything else hostage!)

Comic: 1 partially-finished 9-page comic!

This was unplanned. I took a comics class at the Summer Fine Arts Festival, and it was an enormous inspiration. I am going to finish and release the first bit of the comic I put together... and see if this is a direction I can logically take. I did so much inking this year that my speed has considerably improved, and I learned a ton about storytelling. These skills helped me power through a half dozen coloring books, later in the year.

Challenge... accepted.

I participated in a number of challenges this year. Notably, River Twine did a 12 in 12 challenge (12 submissions over 12 months) that inspired me to do more work for that project than usual, Inktober made October into a month of mad inking (to get 31 pieces in 31 days!), and in November, knowing NaNoWriMo was out of my reach (50,000 words in 30 days), I set myself the personal goal of doing 30 short pieces of fiction, metafiction, or artwork for Torn World.

These were WILDLY successful for me. They were a little more immediate than my big personal yearly goals, and they meant I Got Stuff Done. Lots and LOTS of stuff.

Reaching further.

One of my goals this year was to submit work to 'legitimate' paying markets - I gave myself the benchmark of one art and one writing submission. I did that, to no success at all, and am still scolding myself for taking it to heart. I also submitted my portfolio for an art grant, and participated in a group art show. I did not get the grant (my poor bruised ego!), and did not sell any originals at the art show (though it was a lot of fun, and I did sell smaller things!), but I do feel like these were really good, healthy steps to take, and like I should feel good about it anyway. And also, like I should put submissions back on my list of to-dos, perhaps even raising the bar. TWO writing submissions! TWO art submissions! I AM a legitimate creator, dammit.

I re-opened my Etsy shop and started filling it with digi stamps. This was not on my list of things to do, but I'm glad I did. It's a nice little (emphasis on little!) flow of totally passive income.

I also started a Patreon page. I had basically no expectations for this, but lo! Beautiful patrons! This made me almost as much as Etsy did.

I did one personal project - the sea monster scale chart, and it was fun and mildly successful. I started a second - the Sketch Tarot project. This one is lengthy - it may take more than a year to get into print! But I've got a strong start on it - 7 major arcana are finished, 9 more sketched, and I won't do more than the major arcana (22) unless I meet stretch goals.


Focusing on my own art and career didn't mean leaving the rest of the business entirely behind, somehow!

I launched a Kickstarter for multiple (many-artist) coloring books, and ended up funding seven new coloring books and four reprints. That was a huge boost for this side of the business, leaving me with stable stock that I can now turn around and start marketing in a more steady fashion than I have before. (No six-week delays on new stock, a uniform look and feel between all the books, higher quality than before!) It was too late last year to do more than just fulfill the Kickstarter rewards, but I'm in a very good place to move forward this year.

Portrait Adoption got a good hard look, too, and several minor improvements. I still need to redo the search features, but I added the availability of originals, and improved a number of little things throughout.

Sketch Fest was a tad slower than the previous year, in both sales and activity, but not so much so that it's in any danger. The coding upgrades here were subtle, but useful. Lots of little cosmetic touches, better product managing, and expiration of products were the most noticeable. Waitlist option was added, though it is not as automated at my end as I'd like.

Torn World had spurts of awesome and two months of not-much. The canon board has gotten slower than usual, and I'm looking for ways to shake up the membership into better activity. It continues to pay its way. I need to enforce some of the credit expiration rules that are in place - a lot of spending credits are going to be lost when I do so, and I'll have to figure out what I want to do with them. (Advertising? Cash prizes?) I have several more old sketchbooks to dredge through for non-canon artwork, but I'd like to see more work by not-me this coming year. I did a big upgrade of the metafiction, in 2014, and several little improvements throughout. I have a cool new map feature pretty close to release - and I owe sea monster layers on that. Sea Monster month is always a hit.

Commission-Control got a hard look, too, and a little brainpower. It's a solid idea. I have a better plan for it now. Aside from putting up the placeholder page and FAQ, I haven't moved further.

I did just one show this year: ArctiCon. I took only coloring books, not my personal artwork or a range of products like I usually do. It was a great success, and I will do it again. Selling all things for one round price ($10) was a big time-and-hassle-saver.


2014 was good, creatively and from a business angle. Forward progress was made. I grew as an artist.

Coming up: 2015 goals. December travel stories and photographs.
Tags: coloring books, emg, scaly scaly capitalism, torn world, year in review

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