I Failed in 2017

I failed in 2017

Wow, this year has been busier than I had anticipated. I started out with grand plans, but now those plans are being pushed back until next year. I've been working on a lot of commissions, which is amazing! But that also means that I haven't been able to spend as much time on my own art. And that can be super frustrating; so I've decided to get organized and put myself back on track. 

2017 summary

Let me catch you up a bit before I get into my plans for next year. While I haven't been posting much to Instagram, I have been staying busy. One of the more exciting projects I've been working on is for a tea company in Oregon, Metolius Tea. A friend of mine has partnered with them and asked me to do botanical illustrations for their new labels, which has been pretty fun. I actually went to Oregon recently and got to meet the owner and visit their headquarters. If you follow me on Instagram (@shaylenereynolds) you probably saw some of my posts in my stories and also some photos on my personal account.

For most of the year I've been bogged down with commissions. They keep me busy and challenge me to do art I wouldn't normally do. I have a love-hate relationship with commissions, though. They stress me out because I'm never 100% certain I've captured the client's vision. I also get a bit stressed because of the deadline aspect; which means I can't afford to mess up. But, commissions pay the bills and often times help me grow as an artist, so I'm not complaining.


Aside from art, I was also apartment-hunting. I was staying with my parents for a while, then with my sister briefly, and then I finally found a cute little place that also has a balcony for my cat. My amazing little brother and little sisters helped me move up 3 flights of stairs in over 90 degree heat. None of them complained, despite the fact that we're from Alaska and can't handle the heat too well. Instead, we joked around, laughed, ate pizza, and sat on the floor where we ended up leaving pools of sweat. Those kids are incredible. 

I was pretty stoked to finally have my own place again. Until I realized that I got rid of almost everything I owned when I decided to move to Dallas... so I was sleeping on an air mattress that my sister lent to me along with a pillow that I still need to return to her. I didn't have any dishes (except a coffee pot, duh) or furniture. I didn't even have a shower curtain. But thankfully I have a really amazing mom who gave me one, along with a bunch of kitchen items. And my sister gave me her tea kettle so I could make spaghettle while I slowly accumulate cookware. 

For those of you who don't know, spaghettle is when you cook spaghetti in a tea kettle. Simply boil the water and put the noodles in the spout. Just be sure to turn down the burner after you add the noodles, or the water will overflow and push your noodles out of the spout and all over your stove top.... #spaghettlefauxpas
Note: Spaghettle pairs exceptionally well with your favorite boxed wine.

Goals for 2018

Now that I've filled you in on what's been keeping me so busy this year, here's a basic synopsis of what I'm planning for the new year:

First of all, I'm going to be putting out two original pieces of art every month. I've already been working on compositions for next year and I'm pretty excited about it. Along with those pieces, I'm going to start putting out a quarterly coffee table book with all the art I've done that quarter. I want them to be very image-heavy; which is the kind of art book I loved to buy when I was learning to draw. 

Some of the images from these books will be on Instagram since that's where I share my progress and the finished result. However, I want to craft these books to tell a complete story of the artwork. Not every piece is created in the same method or mindset. Sometimes I set out to create a work of art for a very specific reason; other times it's more of a mood or feeling that I can't really pin-point. I want to share the the process behind the art, not just the technical process of creating it. This way, if you purchase a piece of artwork, you'll be able to share the significance that piece had to the artist as well as it's significance to you, the collector. 

Subscription box

And! A really fun, new idea I've been tossing around is to start a monthly subscription box. I've been working on a lot of side projects and studies that are really cute, but never make it into my portfolio. So I thought it would be fun to print them out as postcards, stickers, magnets, etc. and send them out every month. This also means that I'll be sharing a lot more of my 'behind-the-scenes' and personal life on my Instagram videos, YouTube, and blog.

As a bonus, the quarterly boxes will feature a guest artist. I've had the opportunity to grow as an artist along side many other amazingly talented people through Instagram. Most of these artists I've never met in real life, but I feel a deep connection to them since we've grown in our careers together. 

Also, because every artist's journey is slightly different and each one has a level of insight and experience that I can't offer, I'll post both a blog interview and a YouTube interview of them. I'd like to publish these the same week I ship the art boxes; that way you get a sense of who the featured artist is and you can really appreciate the work that they created for you that month.

To get notified about the release date for #MyArtBox, click here.


That, of course, leads me into my next goal for 2018: blogging. I've been told that I should be blogging for the past 5 years. I've tried off and on, but up until now I wasn't sure I had anything of value to share. I was still learning how to make art so anything I would have told you guys would have been more along the lines of "I'm trying this now...let's see if it works!" which would result in this post: "Nope. That didn't work. Now I'm trying it like this! Oh wait, no. That doesn't work either..." and so it would have gone every week for the last 5 years.

However, at this point I know how to make art, I know how to price art, I know how to share art, I know how to put together a website (with sites like Shopify and Squarespace), and I know how to make good, quality art prints. Making prints was the bane of my existence for many years, so that's a huge one for me! There is still so much I need to learn, but I feel like those things are the foundation you have to have before you can really start to build a career. You don't want to have a million eyes on you while you're experimenting with pricing or changing your website every three days. And you don't want to have frequent orders coming in while you're still learning how to make art prints that are consistent in quality (or how to properly package them for shipping... which is another pain in the booty). 


As for YouTube, I wan't to use it to answer your questions from Instagram as well as share more of my life (weekly vlogs!). You guys ask me so many questions and I want to be able to sit down and thoroughly explain things. Which isn't always possible in a short Instagram video. And let's be honest: if I try to be super detailed and you see that I posted a million videos to my Instagram story... you're probably not going to watch them. You also won't be able to go back later if you missed it or need to double check what I was saying. So YouTube is hands-down the better option for content like that.

When it comes to vlogging, you guys have been asking for a while to see more of my life so you can get to know me a little better. I was hesitant about this at first because I honestly don't do anything. I stay home and make art and that's about it. But, I've been doing Instagram stories pretty frequently and you guys have responded so positively to them! You've gotten me over my 'camera shyness'. That being said, vlogs won't be at the top of my priority list in the midst of everything else I'll be tackling, but I do hope I'm able to post once a week. Plus, you guys will get to see a lot more of my cat, Tiffany, since you've been petitioning for her to have her own Instagram account. She's super angry and weird... you'll love her. 

In conclusion

Next year is going to be a lot of work. It makes me both excited and nervous because I can already see myself having the occasional melt-down from being overwhelmed. But honestly, that's just how you grow. If I want to push my art forward and take my art to the level I aspire for it to be, then I'm going to have to learn how to manage my time better while juggling multiple projects.

The fact that everything intertwines is both a relief and a bit of a concern. It's a relief because it's all related, so I won't necessarily be switching gears when I go from one project to the next. But it's also a concern because if one thing falls out of wack then everything falls out of wack. It'll be interesting to see how well I manage to make it through and also how much I'm able to accomplish if I can just stay focused and keep on working.