Posts made in January, 2015
It’s time once again for Serkwork’s Annual Year End Wrap Up!
Since I started this current incarnation of the Serkworks website/blog way back in 2012 (not so long ago, really, but what seems like forever in internet years), I have been making it a point to document my goals and aspirations for the year ahead and reflect on what I accomplished during the previous year. I find that the act of writing my goals down and publishing them in blog form accomplishes two things. First, it makes it very easy for me to look back and see just how well I did in achieving what I set out to do. It also adds a level of accountability and a greater incentive for me to strive to reach my goals. Letting myself down is one thing, but I feel if someone is expecting me to deliver something in a certain amount of time, I want to do my best to make that happen.
Looking back on 2014.
2014 started out rocky and there were many more bumps to be found along the road. This was the first year in a long while that I have made my living solely off of my income from Serkworks. Previously, I had worked on staff at various game design and multimedia companies. During this time, I unwisely let my client base dwindle, so in a way freelancing full time again was like starting from scratch. Not to mention the climate for freelance illustration and design has changed dramatically from the days when I made it my full time living. Fortunately, over the course of the year I made inroads and connected with some awesome new clients that are doing exactly the type of work I enjoy doing. So things are looking up for 2015.
In addition to servicing the needs of my clients, I have been working hard to establish Serkworks as a brand, with a line of goods aimed at enthusiast of the mad sciences and that dovetails into last year’s goals. Let’s revisit…
Last Year’s Goals:
As I stated last year, my primary goal was to stay hyper-focused on building and marketing Serkworks as a brand – think of it like a mad scientist supply company. For example, let’s say you are an evil genius with aspirations of taking over the world. You’re probably going to need plans to build your death ray, components to create your chemical concoctions, or the occasional motivational poster to hang in your underground lair. Well Serkworks Labs aims to be your one stop shop for all your diabolical needs. Products created by mad scientists for mad scientists. The goals I set for Serkworks in 2014 were in service to this idea.
An all new bigger and better trade show booth for conventions.
I traded in my existing booth for a larger, more versatile design. I love the first booth I made. It was eye-catching, but it had some major drawbacks. For one, it was constructed of large PVC tubes which proved to be bulky and hard to transport. At the center of my original booth was a spinning display which, while pretty cool, was time consuming and difficult to set up.
I ended up scrapping the whole design and starting from scratch. I created artificial pipes out of foam. The advantage of which is that they are lightweight, flat, and can be stacked more compactly for transport. I was also able to create some really funky shapes and sizes that were not available with the store-bought PVC pipe. I can also configure the new pipes in different arrangements depending on the size of the booth or venue. Eliminating the spinning display allowed more room to showcase more of my products. You can see some process videos of me building the booth on my You Tube channel.
I wanted to add at least one more convention to the list of shows I exhibited at in 2014. Fortunately the folks who put on Phoenix ComicCon created a new sister convention called Phoenix Fan Fest. Although the show wasn’t a big monetary success for me (or most of the vendors I talked to), it was a first year show with the potential to grow, and with the show located in the West Valley, it is more convenient for me than downtown. So I will most likely add it to my list of future shows.
Goal Accomplished (barely)
A whole mess of new products
My goal was to double the amount of Serkworks-branded products by the end of 2014. How did I do? I tripled the amount large prints, doubled the amount of small prints, tripled the amount of postcards/mini-prints, and created a few new novelties and buttons as well.
Share and interact more online
Sketch more and more
More video and live stream content
I’m grouping these three things together because I found an efficient way to kill not two, but three birds with one stone (my apologies to metaphoric birds everywhere). One of the biggest accomplishments I made in 2014 was switching more of my online focus over to You Tube. First, I took on the 100 Days of Making Comics Challenge, where I uploaded a video blog of my comic-making journey every day for 100 days. After the challenge I continued to upload additional video content on a regular basis, participated in live online artist hangouts and art challenges, and in the process I did much more sharing and interacting online. This also gave me the opportunity to produce many more sketches, not to mention I got to meet and interact with a whole new community of awesome people.
Complete issue three of “Young and the Dead”
Unfortunately, even with much of my 100 Days of Making Comics focused on Young and the Dead #3, the book still is not finished. The good news is that since I wanted to have a new issue available for the summer Comic Con season, so I still have some time.
Goal Fail (I’m not going to sweat it; just push on and finish the book before Phoenix Comic Con rolls around)
Every year, try as I might, there are some things with a slightly lower priority that I just don’t get around to completing. These are the leftovers that I carried over from the previous year. All of which managed to go unfinished in 2014 as well. Here’s what I didn’t get to:
Learn Manga Studio. Although I haven’t ordered the latest version Manga Studio, I did finally purchase a tablet display monitor and am confident this will be my year to create more digital comics content.
Launch “Young and the Dead” as an online web comic. The web comic is not up yet, but I have made progress. I have converted all the pages to a digital format, and created most of the artwork for the website, including all new character bios. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to put it all together and finding the appropriate time to launch the website.
Finish construction on my workspace and daughter’s castle bed. Sadly, not much has been done to further these projects. I have pulled out the supplies to finish building my work station. It’s all waiting for me in the garage. With the addition of the new tablet monitor I am losing some of my desk real estate so I really need to expand my workspace. Will this be the year I complete it? I sure hope so.
Well that sums up 2014. I’m pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish. Now onto my 2015 goals!
All things in service to the Brand. All in all, I am proud of what I accomplished last year. This year I plan to stay the course and continue to make the Serkworks brand my primary focus. That being said, I also need to further grow my base of freelance clients. While it looks as though I have plenty of work to keep me busy, I want to ensure that it continues. I’ll be adding a list of promotions to my calendar to send to new and existing clients. I’ll need to maintain a steady stream of client work in order to have the money to invest in more Serkworks products, convention fees, etc. Hopefully one day the Serkworks brand will become a self-sustaining business unto itself without the need to take on additional client work.
Grow My You Tube Channel. You Tube has been a great platform for me. My channel is still in its infancy, but I feel that You Tube has tremendous potential, and I plan to increase the quality of my video content in order to appeal to more people and better familiarize them with Serkworks. Until now, most of the content has been on my comic book and a series of fan art videos. The comic is only one faction of Serkworks. I don’t want there to be any confusion about what Serkworks is, so I’m working on a new series titled, “Serkworks Art Lab,” which should bring everything together and make it clear what Serkworks is all about. I’m planning on launching the new series in March, which should give me time to finish my studio set, create artwork, and learn the new video editing software so I can create animations for the show intro, and script out some rough outlines for the themes of the first few episodes. In the meantime, I will continue to post regular video content.
Create more Serkworks prints and products. I’m making it a goal to create one new print each month for 2015. This won’t be easy, especially with my client work and finishing the comic, but I really miss making print designs and I have a growing list of ideas that I want to tackle. I also plan to do at least four more button designs and a new set of mix-and-match trading cards. And, if I can find the time, create some all new products different from what I have already exhibited.
Post Daily. This may sound like a no brainier, but I always have a hard time finding the right thing to post online, or I get so wrapped up in what I’m working on I forget to talk about it. That’s going to have to change. With my focus on You Tube recently, I have neglected many of my other social networks. So now I’m making a point to post something every day, be it a sketch, a random thought, or an interesting link that somehow ties into the Serkworks theme. Keeping a constant presence shouldn’t be hard to do, but it’s been a challenge for me in the past.
More Shows. I said this before, but I would like to exhibit at more conventions. I really want to do at least four big shows this year. Fortunately, there are a growing number of local shows I can attend. I also want to start looking into some out of state shows assuming there is floor space available and that I can make it worth the investment travel-wise.
Keep on Sketching. I’m confident I can do this in conjunction with my daily post, You Tube videos, and art challenges, however I want to focus on more original ideas and a bit less fan art.
Look into additional avenues to market Serkworks products. As of now I have a storefront connected to my website with Storenvy. It’s not a major stream of income, but sales do trickle in. I have also had some success on sites like Red Bubble and Tee Public. I have been getting a nice little monthly royalty check from them with the sale of some of my pop culture-inspired tees, and I’m wondering how my original Serkworks line would do as t-shirts. It wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot. I also want to look at moving my product line over to Etsy in addition to Storenvy. I’m not sure how my work would fare on Ebay or Amazon, but would like to investigate them as options. It seems only natural that the more places you make your art available, the greater the chance that people will find it.
Finish Issue 3 of Young and the Dead. This shouldn’t need repeating, but I’m adding it again for emphasis.
That about does it. Keep in mind that you never know what opportunities will present themselves, and sometimes opportunities vanish before your very eyes requiring you to switch things up in order to adapt. It’s possible that my course will shift, but as long as I stay focused on the big picture, I think this list will provide a pretty good road map.
Here’s to a successful new year. I hope you all have an amazing and successful 2015!