2017 Patreon Thoughts and Upgrades:
Moments like this are also a great time to reflect on how I'm using my time, and by-and-large, I feel really happy with it! This year on Patreon, I made 252 posts (wow!), which is particularly impressive especially when you consider the impact of my major foot/ankle/leg injury in July. Going into 2018, I'm hoping to keep up that momentum, and hope to continue to diversify my content.

One of the things I love about Patreon as a platform is the sense of community and how different creators continue to leverage it and help to support themselves as creators. There are full-time creators using it as well as part-time creators using it, and I love how it allows communities to spring up and engage with each other.

One of the things that can be difficult for me, however, is to see so many things some creators are doing and go "Oh man! I want to do something like that too!" only to realize there are (unfortunately) only so many hours in the day. 

For instance: I enjoy watching streams (I mean, I also work at Blizzard Entertainment, so I'm certainly no stranger to them!), but you'll notice I don't really host many of my own. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • I have a parrot named Tikka. Tikka's cage is in my art and writing room and while he's not as loud as some parrots, he's certainly not quiet by any means. 
  • I enjoy listening to music when I'm doing art. Many times this music is on repeat and is played through my surround sound speakers.
  • I don't have a computer or laptop in my art and writing room or workshop (and the laptop I have isn't very beefy, as it was purchased with mobile writing in mind).
  • I have lots of tables in both my art and writing room and workshop and tend to move around a lot as I work. My workshop in particular is loud and often quite messy/dirty when I'm in the midst of projects.
  • I've found setting up and tearing down streaming cameras to be not only a fair amount of hassle, but it distracts me when I'm working, and it prevents me from getting "in the zone." Instead, I prefer to hone-in and focus on what I'm doing.

Now many of these points have potential solutions if I wanted to work around them. I could move Tikka to another room when I'm streaming, for instance. I could wear headphones rather than use speakers. I could buy a more powerful laptop to support streaming (my current laptop can do it marginally, but not well). Etc. Etc. But truly, one of my big takeaways in the last few years is the thought that I should be min-maxing my time and doing more of the things I enjoy doing and less of the things I'm not as keen on.

This is something that I feel like it's taken me a long time to learn and put into practice, and it's felt wonderful! It's meant that I accept that I want to do ALL THE THINGS, but that I just can't do all of them, and certainly not well! I have to pick and choose how I'm using my time, and moreover how I'm trying to grow.

Right now, for example, I'm not trying to grow in the direction of being a Twitch streamer of affiliate. I enjoy streams, and I still plan to do them occasionally, but that just isn't one of my overarching goals. 

Similarly, I'm not particularly interested in taking on a lot of additional commission work at this juncture. I still am open to private commissions and certainly take a number throughout the year, but I'm much more selective about them, because I guard my personal "free" time a lot more fiercely, as I sort of view my full-time work as similar to commissions in that I am doing work to fulfill someone else's creative vision.

I also enjoy making tutorials and walkthroughs (you can find many of them on the "walkthroughs" tab of my website), but they take a ton of time to put together good ones, and I am not trying to market myself as an instructor. I enjoy sharing my progress, certainly, and am quite open to sharing my materials and process (as you've seen here), but that's simply not my current thrust for how I want to spend the majority of my very limited free time. I also feel like there are a TON of awesome creators that are also making great "How-To" content, and if you ever have any questions for me or are looking for recommendations or suggestions, I'm always happy to point you in their directions (ex. Are you interested in learning now to mold, and cast? Look no further than my friend EmilySculpts!)

In terms of digital art, I still do a fair bit of it, but it definitely hasn't been a primary focus of mine outside of work in the last year or so. There are a number of reasons for this as it relates to me and my art.

Probably the biggest one is that I'm trying to angle my art business in a way that has some financial boons (who isn't?), and I found digital work to be innately limiting because no originals exists. That meant that any of my earnings were limited to prints and related products, which weren't all that good for me. I also realized that my most lucrative years for digital art were years where I focused on commissions, which is something I'm trying to do less of, but even then, the market for such things has grown quite saturated and diverse. 

My personal experience is that I've done a lot better with real media art. Not only do I enjoy it more (I love the tactile nature of it!), but it's allowed me to combine many of my diverse interests into completely new ways, and the end result has been that I can still run prints and produce products with the art, but I also have something tangible and unique when I'm done.  Additionally, since I spend a lot of time in front of a computer full-time at Blizzard and at home when I'm working on my novel, I appreciate getting away from it to work on real media art. I've found it to be a nice balance. So will I still do digital art here and there? Certainly! But it's just not my focus at the moment. 

Another thing you may have noticed less of are super-complex pieces of art from me. I love pieces of art with complex, immersive settings and characters, and I enjoy indulging in projects like those, but I've realized that spending a ton of hours on one project hasn't felt as fulfilling to me as of late as spending a more reasonable amount of time on many projects. 

"Sashah's Song" - Otherwise known as "Help! I'm 200+ Hours In And Still Incomplete"

I still plan do work on some more ambitious projects (including finishing off the above sculpture, so help me!), but I'm trying to be more selective with how I'm spending my time, and to only have ideally one or two "big" projects rolling at any given time.

So now that I've hopefully explained some of the stuff I'm not planning to spend a lot of time on, what DO I want to spend more time on here and behind-the-scenes? 

  • Sharing More Slices-Of-Life: This bit is beautifully two-fold. I have the opportunity to connect with you guys and share tips that you might find helpful in your own lives and creative pursuits, and I get the warm and fuzzy feeling that I have company on this crazy journey! Along these lines, I plan to continue to share more short videos, behind-the-scenes photos, and more. Those are (thankfully!) reasonably bite-sized for me to create, and I'm thrilled to share them with you more regularly. <3  
  • Creating More Art I'm Interested In: I want to continue to work on more art *I* love. It's been absolutely fantastic to see such positive reception to so many things I've been trying, and it's left me with this wonderful zest to keep on trying new things and creating! This is likely to be a lot more things in the realms of animals, fantasy, nature, and content inspired by my stories, but it's likely to involve sculpture, paintings, sketches, casts, wood and resin art, and more.  
  • Crafting More Personal Writing: Sure, it's not as shiny as the visual arts, but my golly, am I excited at the thought of finally getting some of my personal writing to the point that other people can step into the world I've built and enjoy it. I am hoping to continue to make a lot of headway on my novel(s) in 2018, so help me!  
  • Diversifying and Leveling-Up My Art Business: In additional to originals, prints, and casts, I'm hoping to offer a wider variety of products featuring my art. Some recent trials have included stickers, charms, buttons, and a woven throw, but I really want to see what resonates with people. I realized at one point that I'd spent so much time focusing on originals that I'd completely neglected offering other, often more affordable ways to enjoy my art. I have a lot of ideas I'd like to pursue, including kickstarting a series of enamel pins, but in particular I know I need to be better about prepping scans of my completed pieces and uploading them to places like Redbubble for mugs and such.

2018 Patreon Updates Coming Soon

Along these lines, I'm not really planning on any major changes to my Patreon in 2018, but I do have some upgrades planned! I'd like to freshen up the landing page and some of the reward sections, but most of the things I'm considering I think are already in line with my existing tiers:

  • The Tea Tip Tier - $1 or more per month - This tier will remain the same. I consider it a sort of tip-jar.
  • The Harmonized Hummingbird Tier - $2 or more per month - This tier will also remain the same. I view this as a sort of behind-the-scenes tier, since it grants access to my (very active) Patreon blog.
  • The Grinning Gryphon Tier - $5 or more per month - I view this as a more meaty behind-the-scenes tier with some additional perks. This tier will be getting some buffs in the form of additional focused content. Longer video content, detailed material information, PSD/downloads, writing previews, and that sort of thing will be earmarked for this tier.
  • The Tenacious Tiger Tier - $25 or more per month - This is my first physical mail, discount, and critique tier. I *love* sending out physical goodies to people, and personalizing little surprises, but due to my limited time (and current physical health), I'm planning to modify this to a bi-monthly package. There are a number of plus-sides for both my side of this as well as my patrons, the biggest of which is that since I will take half the shipping hit, it means I can add more value to your actual packages (yay!). This means you can expect at least two prints in each package in addition to other fun goodies (stickers, magnets, pins, little sketches, etc.). This tier already has discounts associated with it, but I will be working to also provide discount codes for my online stores as well.
  • The Wandering Werewolf Tier - $65 or more per month - This is my bigger physical mail, discount, and critique tier. Like the previous tier, I'm intending to change this to a bi-monthly package with increased rewards, but this package is guaranteed to include at least one original piece of art. Like the previous tier, this tier already has discounts associated with it, but I will be working to also provide discount codes for my online stores as well in the near future. 

In any case, it's nearly 8am here and I need to catch a few more winks of sleep, but I wanted thank all of you again for reading this and supporting me doing what I do. Your support has been immeasurably helpful and heartening, especially in such an absolutely crazy year for me. Thank you so much again for everything, and I look forward to putting together my 2017 wrap-up for you to enjoy! <3