Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My 2015 Year in Review

2015 year has been something, alright!

I'm not ashamed to admit that the first half was pretty heavy and depressing for me, as I was still reeling over the loss of one of my dear friends, Kevin Kanai Griffith. :(

I felt like in early 2015 it had to really force myself to do personal writing (and I did), but the art side of things wasn't coming nearly as easily for me, and somewhere in late 2014 and early 2015 I felt like someone had shaken me awake to get me to really sit down and think if I was happy with the trajectory of my career as a Community Manager at Blizzard. In truth, I was content and I certainly enjoyed a lot of the work I was doing, but I kept finding myself wondering if I was selling myself short by not even letting myself consider the possibility of a more creative career in the arts.

The thought was terrifying, and then after a time, it was inspiring. What could my life be like in another five or ten years if I let myself pursue the arts? Would I even be capable, qualified, or skilled enough to change careers and find success in something so different? Would I have to leave Blizzard to progress?

In the early half of 2015, I didn't talk about it, but behind the scenes, I gave it my all.

I applied to a job at Blizzard as a Media Artist within Story and Franchise Development (formerly known as Cinematics) and Video and Post Production with every ounce of passion I had. I spent countless hours on my cover letter, resume, portfolio, and then threw myself into the art test and preparing for the eventual interview.

And I got it.

And I haven't looked back.

I talked about my new opportunities within Blizzard in this blog post, but even in the time since, I've got to tell you: I am so much happier. I have so much more creative energy both during and after work, and feel like I am just buzzing with ideas. I feel like myself again, in the best possible way. I love being surrounded by so many creative individuals, I am digging my new work/life balance, and I am so excited for where the future will take me. I'm glad I dared to make the change, and that I had the opportunity to join such an immensely talented, passionate, and wonderful team.

So when I look back at the first half of this year, part of me cringes that there isn't a lot to show for it publicly, but man, if you could see all the hours and hours that went into my portfolio/art test, you would probably understand that that's completely fine by me. :)

I remember about a year ago at this time I was really struggling with whether or not to make a career change, and I'm immensely glad I did. If I had any piece of advice in all of this, it's to be willing to believe in yourself and pursue your own happiness with as much gusto as you can muster! It's never too late to follow your heart!

12 Glimpses of My 2015 Year in Review

This year was extremely busy, but I put together 12 of my "top" projects throughout the year, which you can see above and learn more about below:
  1. World’s First Butterfly Cosplay – Part 3: Bringing Monarch Brightwing to Life: While I technically completed this official project in the middle of 2014, it wasn't actually posted publicly until May of 2015. It was definitely a fun project to try to realize Monarch Brightwing in a butterfly-cosplay-sized sculpture, but I really enjoyed the challenge! It was one of the first full-body sculptures I'd done in years, too!
  2. This year I did a fair bit of personal writing, organizing, blogging, and a boatload of social media. I made 16 blogs in 2015, including numerous blogs detailing walkthroughs of my various projects. I'm hoping to increase that number in 2016, as well as to really kick my writing into gear!
  3. This is one of the many composite images I created for my portfolio for my media artist job application. I spent so much time working on the contents of it, and I'm so very glad it all paid off. :)
  4. Matt Murdock (Daredevil): Avocado at Law: I got really into Netflix's Daredevil this year, and allowed myself a bit of a breather to do some loose fan art of him in the middle of the year.
  5. 30 Day Story-Sketch Challenge: Day 2: Protection: In July I decided to challenge myself to partake in a 30-day challenge to sketch characters and environments from a story I wrote, and would like to get back to editing in order prompt me to get back in the headspace of those characters. This is the second day's image of two of the main characters. Unfortunately I only made it about five days in before I got really sick and put the challenge on ice for awhile, but I definitely plan to give it another go next year.
  6. 'Butterscotch' - World of Warcraft Fan Art Yak: Gah, this project was a beast! Started on November 3rd, 2012 and completed on July 26, 2015, this project spanned many years, and was subject to so much scope creep and technical hurdles that it was sometimes incredibly frustrating to keep moving forward with it, but finally, finally it is done. During the last two years, I've been trying to finish off a number of long outstanding projects and this was one of them. It was also a more than subtle reminder that money and time are hardly limitless, so it's important to make sure you're spending your time on projects you find worthwhile, and well, that you actually finish them.
  7. “Dragon Mage” – ZBrush Sculpture: This is yet another project that had been put on ice for awhile that I finished up in 2015. I had a lot of fun with the patterning on this fella. :)
  8. Sculpture: "Friendship": Amidst a lot of really time-intensive projects (like the job application, Monarch Brightwing Sculpture, and Yak project), when Cindy visited me this year I was somewhat emphatic that I wanted to to a project we could actually complete during a few days, and this ended up being just that. :) I'd long wanted to experiment with a particular type of air dry clay, and had a wonderful time sculpting with my seester! <3
  9. Demon Pig from 2015 BlizzCon Sketch Group: I enjoyed working at the BlizzCon Art Gallery this year as well as at the BlizzCon Sketch Group. The theme for the sketch group was "demon + pig" so I had fun with it. :)
  10. Crafty Secret Santa and "Sailor Usagi": This year I hosted a special Secret Santa-type exchange for crafty people that you can read about here, and by and large I feel it's been a great success! My own giftee enjoyed (among other things) Sailor Moon and rabbits, so I forged her interests together into a fun little sculpture gift. It was a lot of fun to be able to allow my creativity to go wild on another short-form sculpture!
  11. Jeweled Lion Sculpture (Work in Progress): While it's not done yet, in late December I discovered yet another abandoned project from many years ago (2011), and I decided to take a break from my other projects to try to and make it into something with a bit better form. I'm looking forward to finishing it off!
  12. “Sashah's Song” – Mixed Media Sculpture (Work in Progress - Current as of December 17, 2015 - Photographed by Dana Bishop): I started this sculpture way back in late 2014, and it sat around for the bulk of the year before I got moving again on it in the later half of 2015. It's a sculpture of one of the lead protagonists of my stories, who happens to be a werewolf enchantress. Much like the Yak, this project has encountered numerous technical battles along the way, including not fitting properly in a home oven, which meant I had to build an oven to bake it, so... suffice to say, she has continued to be a labor of love, and I'm really hoping I can finish her off in the near future. :) I figure I'm around 106 hours in at this point, and there are a lot more photos of her over on my Twitter accounts @KLeCrone and @Vaeflare. To date, this is very possibly the project I'm proudest of so far!

On to 2016!

All-in-all it's been quite a year, and I can't wait to see what 2016 holds! Some personal things I'm aiming to accomplish in the new year include:

  1. Complete "Sashah's Song" Sculpture
  2. (Re)learn how to mold and cast
  3. Finish one or more short stories
  4. Keep moving forward with one or more novels
  5. Learn some new art materials (CX5, I'm looking at you!)
  6. Finish at least one outstanding art project and selectively retire others
  7. Sell some new personal art
  8. Continue to infuse my unique vision into my work

Conventions/Festivals I Am Planning to Attend in 2016

Thank you for all your support in 2015, and thanks for joining me on my creative journey!

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