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So that was 2017

I'm not really one for making New Years resolutions, but I do like to have a think about what I'd like to try and do over the next 12 months, even if I don't formalise it outside my own head. 2017 was a bit of a disappointing year for me in many ways, so I thought I'd have end of year review of sorts, and put down some thoughts for 2018 to try and keep myself motivated and on track with some projects I'd like to make headway on. Just don't hold me to anything, OK?

Disneyland Paris

In February, my wife and I headed off to Disneyland Paris on a belated honeymoon, taking the whole brood with us. For someone interested in visual design, illustration, animation, lettering and things of that nature, Disneyland is such an inspiring place to visit. I spent as much time taking pictures of the shop signs as the characters walking around.

This was our second visit, so we were a bit more prepared than the first time we came, it wasn't such a shock to the senses and it was easier to just slip into the parks and start heading for the areas you wanted to see. The first time we came I still loved the place, but I didn't absorb as much information, everything was a blur. For example, I didn't fully take in how vivid the colours are in "It's a small world".

Hartlepool Festival of Illustration

Over the last few years I've noticed I've become a little bit insular, a bit of a shut-in. I often see events I'd like to attend, make plans to go and then chicken out at the last minute. I'm not great at meeting new people and socialising. One event that I was determined not to miss – having made plans to go in 2015 and having to cancel at the last minute because of work – was the Hartlepool Festival of Illustration.

Going on my own was a bit daunting, but it was well worth the trip. The exhibition was inspiring, featuring a great range of work from a number of well-known illustrators.

It was great to see original artwork and prints from the likes of Axel Scheffler and Benji Davies, and I managed to attend a number of talks on the second day that were entertaining and illuminating. I also managed to meet a few names I'm familiar with from emails and social media, including Derek Brazell, Ben Tallon and Sandra Dieckmann. It's a really nice change to meet people face to face rather than through exchanging messages behind a screen, and it's much nicer having a drink in an unfamiliar place with other people rather than on your own.

Book Reviews

In 2016 I started writing occasional book reviews for the AOI, and this is something I've continued throughout 2017. Although I enjoy writing I don't consider myself to be great at it, but the only way to get better is to keep doing it, and I find it better to have even a loose deadline as motivation to get things done.

Web development

During the day I work in-house as a graphic designer and web developer. During the last year or so I've found myself tinkering with this site, adding various pages and bits of functionality that are for the most part hidden. Some of these are to help me with being more organised in the business side of illustration, but some are also aimed at providing resources and infrmation to help other illustrators/designers. Unfortunately, this has had the effect of draining the time I've had available to actually be illustrating, so it's something I'm going to put a hold on for the next few months. This year I really want to focus on the illustration side of things and get away from graphic design and development as much as possible.

You can see a little bit of what I've been working on here…

So, 2018 then…

This is it, the bit where I lay out my master plan for 2018. What I'm going to learn. What I'm going to do.

I don't really have a plan. But…

  • This year is all about illustration. That means more time sketching, more time trying to finish off half-done projects, more time focusing on promotion and trying to get in paid illustration work, rather than just personal and pro-bono work.
  • Socialise more. That means going to illustration meetups and events, getting out and meeting people in the real world. I'm thinking I need a trip to that there London at some point.
  • Make music. Pre-kids I used to play guitar/bass for various different bands. While I'm not sure I've still got enough confidence to get up on stage and play I'd love to get back to regular jamming and/or playing around in a studio. My electro-acoustic industrial Belinda Carlisle cover band beckons…

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Simon is an excellent person to work with; creative, a fast learner and motivated by his passion for illustration, design and development. Richard Askew, Askew Brook

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