Happy New Year to all of you! I hope that the last year was an overall success for everyone. I know that some of us had some major challenges, and others not so much, but in the end, we have all made another trip around the sun. Today begins yet another trip, and to kick it off I thought I'd go over some highlights from the past year and share some things that I may not have during the past 365 days. I know most people do these things leading up to January 1, but I was away from my computer for two weeks, so I had to wait until now.
I went to bed last night wondering, as some others might have also, what this year might bring. What are my goals? Have any of them changed, or are they mainly the same? I'm not one for resolutions, so I can't say that I would try to lock myself into something, but having a base goal has become important. I started out last year with a broad, theoretically simple goal to get my work shown. At the time I had no real game plan, just figure out how to make it happen. It sounds simple as I type the words, but looking back, I had no idea what I was in for.
As I'm sure I have mentioned in the past, I've been working on a large body of work now for about a year and a half. At this time last year, it was just in it's phase of really coming together. What I knew, though, or at least felt, was that I had something good going. I hadn't been as excited about something I was working on for about 15 years. I don't know if it was feeling like I was making something that mattered to me, or if it was just feeling more self-assured, but whatever it was drove me to keep at it.
This drive is something that I've spoken to many people about this past year. It's a passion that I think any working artist can relate to. There is some inner desire to try and make your idea, vision, or emotion a visual reality. It's something that can breed a confidence that is often lacking in the mind of an artist, smashing the feelings of inadequacy for just enough time to make big things happen. You slave over ideas and concepts, anxious moments and self loathing, just to get to that relatively quick moment where you find the light of confidence, the drive and motivation to take a risk.
In February of 2016 I took that first chance. After having poured through calls for entry, I sent out some work to three different places. I had relatively realistic expectations of my chances to have my work selected. My confidence was really just enough for me to send out work, but that jump was made. As expected, I heard back from the first place and got my first rejection of the year. I'd lie if I said it wasn't a little disheartening, but in reality I expected nothing more, so it wasn't like it was soul crushing. It did, however, set me up for some surprises.
After the first rejection, I waited a bit before I started sending out more work. I wanted to see what the other results would be before I took another stab at what looked like an uphill battle. In hindsight, I might have done better to just keep sending out work, but what did I know? A few weeks passed after the first rejection before I got another response. Within a two week period I was named as a nominee in two categories of the Fine Art Photography Awards and had a piece selected for a show in Portland, OR.
I'd love to say that this started a string of consecutive acceptances, but that just isn't reality. I have, however, been fortunate this year. I didn't keep a count of all the places I sent my work to, I'm not masochistic. I definitely had my share of rejections, it's part of the game. However, over the course of 2017, I managed to get two awards and have work in eight different shows. To be honest, I still can't believe it. I can't think of any time that I've set out a goal and made it happen the way I did this past year.
Through this past year I have met some amazing people, gone to some cool places, and continued to work at bettering my craft. I have had some amazing support from my actual family and my extended family of friends, new and old. I couldn't have done any of it to the level I did without your love, support, and friendship. I would list you all, but that would seriously be longer than this blog has already become.
I hope that all of you, whether I know you or not, achieve your goals for 2018. Whatever they are, stick with them and try to make them happen. There will be pitfalls along the way in the form of rejections, setbacks, and sometimes just utter disappointment, but keep striving. Even if you don't meet the goals you set out for, the point is you tried. As I was told, and I'm sure you have been too, "You'll never know until you try!"
Best wishes to you all, and keep trying in 2018!