I recently wrote a post for AIGA Raleigh where I listed a ton of new years resolutions for designers. The list was probably a little more personal than I had intended it to be - the real title should have been "10 New Years Resolutions for Lydia." But I love that it's inspired others and that it got a lot of attention for AIGA. I keep thinking about it, and now - nearly halfway into 2014, I wanted to touch on those resolutions again, and see how I'm holding up on each of them.
1. Define Your Goals.
It should be clear to anyone who read it that I was obviously not in a good place career-wise when I wrote this. My work had stagnated, and I didn't know how to improve. After several difficult conversations with my art director and weeks of painful introspection, I decided to make a pretty big leap - I'm going back to school this fall. I'll be returning to my alma mater - NC State University - to earn my master's degree in Graphic Design, and hopefully acquire a new perspective on our industry, its methods & future, and my place in it as a designer. I'm so stoked!
2. Be a Mentor.
Perhaps I wrote this in the hopes that I could take someone under my wing, somehow paying forward the mentorship I never received. I think that I was arrogant in thinking I didn't need any help once I had scored that ever important first job. I wish dearly that I had remained close with my professors, that I had stayed active in AIGA where I could have made some of the relationships years ago that I cherish now. I can say that I've now had the opportunity to work with two emerging designers, and I've enjoyed seeing them both grow as professionals. I've tried my best to make myself available to them whenever I can, offering constructive feedback and challenging them to try different things. I also volunteered this April to act as a reviewer for AIGA's annual student portfolio review - where I was reassured of my confidence in offering feedback, and humbled by the fantastic work I saw.
3. Update Your Portfolio.
BOOM! I nailed this one - and if you're reading this - hey, thank you! - chances are you've already browsed my work. Now my only challenge is to keep it up. My goal moving forward is to keep it current more often, rather than doing a big content dump every 6 months or so. There are definitely four or five more recent projects I'd like to add - so I need to get on that.
4. Do a Pro Bono Project
YUP! I'm just wrapping up a small project for the Doughman Race in Durham - an annual foodie triathlon that I've been honored to work with for the past three years. This year, though there won't be a race, there will be an event to raise awareness for next year's race, and they wanted a tee shirt to sell there. I was thrilled that they were interested in the style of my recent hand-drawn work, and my good friend Lenny at Hey Monkey Design offered his screenprinting skills & materials so we could screenprint them ourselves. We'll be diving into screenprinting about a hundred shirts soon, so wish us luck!
5. Keep a Sketchbook.
Though I don't use it as often as I'd like, I have started keeping a wire bound, 9x12 notebook at my side most of the time. My goal is to keep a smaller one in my purse and do more random sketches of things that inspire me throughout my day, but right now, my sketchbook is almost entirely devoted to #6...
6. Try Something New
I have always been fascinated by the beautiful work of folks like Mary Kate McDevitt, Jessica Hische, and Dana Tanamachi - I was just scared that if I tried it, it would look terrible and I'd feel disappointed and defeated. It's just so different from the kind of work I've been doing for the last five years. Back in November, I attended my first handlettering meetup with AIGA - which was nothing more than a group of creative folks with some sample books and some scrap paper, excited to swap ideas and share a beer. Lo and behold, with encouragement from friends, I've become addicted to lettering. Mary Kate McDevitt is now my absolute hero - I've devoured her Skillshare classes, and her new book - the Hand Lettering Ledger - has inspired me, and taught me so many subtle little pointers about drawing letters that have already improved my craft. At this point, I'm pretty sure this will be a lifelong obsession.
7. Design something for yourself.
Unfortunately, this one is still in the "I'll tackle it in the second half of the year" column. I will have a glorious 7 week window between my last day on the job and my first day of grad school, and I plan to have a Summer of Lydia - filled with screenprinting, painting, home renovation, and of course, lettering. Chances are a most of those things will be for my husband & me - so yes, it will be a very glorious and selfish summer. Hopefully there will be some new artwork or even some custom wallpaper (!!) to show for it by the start of August.
8. Learn to Say No.
I've been pleasantly surprised by how many folks have contacted me through my site to see if I'm available for freelance recently. Right now, I'm not really available since my work schedule is sort of erratic and we're getting to the place where I wouldn't have enough time between now and the start of school to really tackle any kind of large project. So unfortunately I've had so say no quite a lot. I am still taking on tons of freebie work, but you know what? Helping my friends makes me happy. Sharing my skills with people I love is my favorite way of showing them love. So I'm gonna keep doing that. Sorry, new years list.
9. Make a Dream Client Wish List
This one's also in the tackle soon category. I think it will be a good exercise in preparation for grad school to help me figure out my end game. So, not yet, but soon!
10. Become more involved in the design community.
YES! I go to almost every event AIGA offers at this point - and I have learned SO MUCH and met some of the coolest people ever. I'm a contributor to our chapter's blog and I'm excited to be on the planning committee for our chapter's Centennial celebration this fall. Beyond that, even things like following more artists on Instagram has made me feel more connected and inspired.
So to wrap up - 7ish out of 10 ain't bad! This year has been incredibly encouraging and inspiring so far. I'm so excited to see what the rest of it will bring!