End of the Year Review + Holiday Card Art

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It is that time of the year again. I'd like to look back on 2017 and list what I have accomplished, and what it means for the future – and that includes you; friends, colleagues, clients and customers as well.
My Holiday Card for 2017, feel free to share

Blogging

Looking back while writing makes one thing clear; I have not blogged that much in 2017, shame over me. This is especially a bummer since I expanded my reach by being a guest blogger on Altpick for over 2 years now and also have well-liked posts up on Artlords dot com.
Since Artstation also opened up the platform to blogging, I'll definitely put selected posts up there and work in 2018 on new content, promised. Since I'm a pro-member, I believe it as a part of my duty;)

Going Independent

The next thing that came to mind was a big change; In October this year I made a decision to step back from freelancing and focus on being an independent artist. I did both for over 5 years now and now I see limits in the freelancing world, where budgets become lower and inquiries fade, selling my personal work has no limitations. In the near future, I will still keep up working with existing clients, but I will not accept new clients for illustration work.

Health

Working as a sole visual artist on a board game this year unfortunately taught me what I don't want to do for a living. In general I found working under constant extrinsic pressure seems to make me sick, through stress and physically as well. So stepping back from that game is not only a luxury, but also necessary. The healthy option is clear and means focusing on intrinsic motivation.

Patreon

The Patreon platform saw the hardest change, sind I dropped from 2-6 regular monthly rewards to no rewards. This is also due to health issues and stress, but also because I don't wanted to put up mediocre quality just to deliver in time. This has resulted in a new motivation, since I started to produce for Conventions, I feel better, the output has become better and Patreon is still the first platform I release digital works. In many cases it has changed toward an exclusive platform as well. I show behind the scenes and personal observations more than anywhere else. So in that regard it has become more personal. Even if this is still one-sided, I think over time this can become more important. At least it does not cost me more to keep that door open.

Going after copycats

Since the stealing of my AT-AT Star Wars and Bierstadt homage went out of hand with over 32 shops compared to 3 at the end of last year, I have decided to go on a streak and pull them down one by one. A lawyer I was in talks about that subject seems to not have enough interest, so I'll have to find someone else or other options. It is clearly a part of my new job and I will accept the challenge. The up-to-date news about that project can be found here.



Facebook

Since about 8 months or so, I neither invested in advertising nor did I overly used the platform to promote my work. The result is a more balanced self. I mostly use facebook on a desktop with strict custom css hacks, so that it becomes usable and since I use it to consume art mostly, time restriction limited to 20 minutes daily, it becomes acceptable. I feel more productive and at the end of the day I am more productive, earn more and feel less bad about my habits.



More exclusive and premium physical products

The time is not just right to post more information about it yet, but I am investing and building around a new premium product that I will introduce on upcoming conventions. As always, patrons know more, but eventually you'll learn what it is all about. Stay tuned for more informations;)





Additional Tip-jar

Since not everyone likes to pledge on a monthly or recurring basis that Patreon is good for, I now have a Ko-fi page that allows you to buy me a coffee for whatever reason, be it that you used my work as a wallpaper for over a year now or bought a counterfeit canvaswithout knowing and want to do something for your karma now;)


No annual book submissions

This year, for the first time, I did not submit my work to Infected by Art and other book publications. There are many reasons; for one, I don't have enough new work that is free from rights of third-parties and then there is the fact that being in 5 Books with over 15 images over the time of 5 years and it has brought me zero response. Not in terms of inquiries, not in commentary and not in job offers. Lürzer's Archive also does inquire about putting work into their "Best Digital Artists Worldwide" etc. but besides the hefty price-tag, it does bring zero return on investment. And since I have decided to do less commission works too, it would be counterproductive to advertise something that I don't have time for.


The year in pictures along with some commentary:

Mercy was one of the characters I have most procrastinated upon. The reason was that I had too many ideas but none was good enough. In the end it was one of the first pieces that I produced for conventions and not for Patreon and the reward was huge for me - it was definitely the right decision to create a Landscape around it.
The Millenium Falcon was also the most anticipated piece by fans of the series and the success gave me right. While the AT-AT made Top Row on "Star Wars Wallpaper" and No. #1 with "at-at wallpaper" on search engines, this one is much more popular in real life and that is the biggest win, when you have to see it in real and a digital copy does not do it justice.
My personal favorite of the portrait experiments from early spring 2017. The textures, brush settings and impressionism taught me lots about portraits and recognizing features. The portrait-series is not finished yet, it is a great topic to get better and raise the bar constantly.
One of the few commissions I did this year that I am proud of, was the "Menk".
A creature/character design for Ren Garcia and his League of Elder series. The design was mainly realized with the help of Zbrush and 3d design and Pixelsquid. It was really fun to do and it helped me get better with Zbrush.








All-in-all, it was an overwhelming experience to work less with commissions and more on my own terms. Earning more with my own creations than I had earned in my first 2,5 years of freelancing altogether is a big help to be more confident that the route I am going now is the right one.

With that, I want to end this blog post and wish all my blog visitors, followers, clients, customer and friends a wonderful holiday season and a great start into 2018!

All the best,
Oliver / Ars Fantasio
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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook

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