Top 10 Reflections of 2023 and Looking Ahead to 2024
What a remarkable year it has been! As I reflect upon December 31, it not only marks the conclusion of my first full year as a full-time studio artist but also celebrates my 59th birthday. This period has been a whirlwind of experimentation, trying on new hats, and venturing into uncharted territories. While I have yet to draw my retirement pension after a 32-year-long art education career, I've successfully maintained financial stability by focusing on generating income through the studio and other avenues, keeping both the studio and family accounts in the 'black.'
Over the past 12 months, I've gained valuable insights and set a few goals for 2024:
- **Strategic Show Selection:**
Choosing and participating in the right shows is crucial for successful jewelry sales. A significant portion of my jewelry income, 75% or so, came from selling textured silver bands. Consequently, I am already in the process of expanding this collection for the winter season.
- **Connection with Audience:**
Experiencing the joy of connecting with people who appreciate my work has been a tremendous rush. Events like the Common Ground Fair, with its affirming, fun, and profitable atmosphere, have reinforced the importance of engaging with an enthusiastic audience.
- **Balancing Income and Creativity:**
While prioritizing income generation is essential, I've acknowledged the need to strike a balance between financial goals and creative exploration. In the coming year, I plan to address this by carving out dedicated time for artistic play and experimentation.
- **Home Studio Freedom:**
The freedom of working from home in the studio and on the homestead is liberating, but it comes with its challenges. To enhance productivity, I recognize the necessity of implementing a more structured daily schedule and routine in the new year.
- **Diverse Projects:**
For the past 6 months, I have been working 1-2 days a week converting a dilapidated garage on my son’s newly purchased property in Bucksport, Maine. The progress I've made on this building has been rewarding because I’m helping my family out and the pseudo-regular income has been welcome.
I took on some custom-casting clients this year. I learned that casting for others can be a challenging and stressful endeavor that was not bringing me joy or satisfaction so I've temporarily stepped back from offering this service.
- **Pricing and Efficiency Challenges:**
The challenge of creating interesting earrings inexpensively while maintaining quality has been a puzzle for me. I will continue on my quest to find a solution, as my current designs take twice the time to make as my textured band designs and at lower price points.
- **Reviving Mycelium Jewelry:**
Mycelium Jewelry exploration was temporarily put on hold this year due to limited financial returns (I sold very few pieces). Encouragement from customers at the Common Ground Fair has inspired me to resume this work and delve deeper into its potential.
- **100-Day Project:**
I am beginning a 100-day project tomorrow. Each day I will create a new wax ring design that will become a one-of-a-kind ‘Floral Collection’. I am going to change how I share this project; I will wait until I have a finished (cast and polished/finished) piece before sharing it on social media. Conception to finished artwork videos are more satisfying to watch than ‘mid-process’ content.
- **Educational Offerings:**
I aspire to continue offering lost wax casting educational workshops in the studio. Artists and metalsmiths interested in expanding their mediums to include lost wax casting are encouraged to reach out for information on upcoming 1 and 2-day workshops.
- **Prioritizing Health and Family:**
As I approach my 60s, maintaining health and fitness remains a priority. Weekly hiking trips, nutritious meals, and periodic physical therapy will continue to support overall well-being. Additionally, regular visits to family and friends across the country will be intentional, incorporating creative arts components and museum visits whenever possible.
Cheers to lessons learned, goals set, and the artistic journey that lies ahead in 2024!