I love this time between Christmas and New Year. Everything slows down, nothing is happening, it's a limbo land and perfect time and space to look at the year which is nearly ending and think about the new year.
2017 was one of the most complicated years of my life but at the same time one of the happiest. As it's coming to an end I'm grateful for all the things which came my way (both positive and some which were harder to accept). Some of you know me well and some of you know me through social media but my work is very personal and my business can't be separated from my personal life, so here is my life this year chronologically.
January: Started MATS course on children book illustration which I wanted to do for ages and absolutely loved! It taught me so much about my work and things I can do and can't.
February: Celebrated my 2nd yoga anniversary. It brought so much calm to my life, made my body stronger and taught me to be kind to myself (also do an ace chaturanga and gain some arm and back muscles). Also taught me to love my body the way it is right now, with all the back rolls, the widest shoulders. Be proud and take more space.
March: Painted Girl Power Print for 8th of March, International Womens day as an Ode to some of the amazing women who came before me and paved and are paving the way for all of us. I'm a feminist and it's a very important part of my identity. Portion of the print sales goes to charity (charity rotates throughout the year).
Turned 30! That's a big one. So so so exciting! I feel so much happier and calmer. It has nothing to do with age but I like the number and how I feel at this time of my life.
April: Visited my grandparents and extended family in Belarus. I'm from Latvia but my grandparents still live in Belarus and I don't get to see them oftem but I miss them so much. And think of them all the time and to spend some time with them was such a treat.
May: Taught a workshop at V&A! Victoria & Albert museum is one of my absolute favourite places in the whole wide world. I would come here when I'm happy and when I'm sad, it brings me calm and makes me happy. To be surrounded by all that beauty and all those stories within the objects, all the people who's life they were part of. When I visited it as a student (in Uni) I could have not dared to think that one day I could possibly teach something in there! When I was on the bus home I did a little happy cry. An immigrant, an illustrator without an agent trying to make her way in the world teaching at V&A! MADE ME SO HAPPY! ❤️
June: This one I kept quiet for a while. After being in a long relationship and then married for 5.5 years my marriage came to an end. It's a long and complicated story as all of them are.
Learning not to ask why (but to ask what and look into the future) and not to let my brain tell me I'm not good enough (and it bloody well did) was the hardest thing I had to learn this year. A lot of the things which happened after are a direct consequence of this event but as I said I'm thankful for all the things that happened and came into my life. And first time in many years I feel happy and myself. We all deserve to be loved (even if that love sometimes comes from ourselves ;).
This and turning 30 made me think about what I want from life and who am I, what do I enjoy a lot more.
July: Took Mildred the mint Brompton bike on our first trip to the continent! First we visited my sister in Ghent. Then spent the most wonderful week with my friend in Amsterdam. It was such an important step, I always wanted to take my bike on an adventure and it was a wonderful one! Cycling by the canals, drinking beer, eating yummy snacks and talking life. Sharing the most wonderful memories which keep me going even now. Sunshine on my face, wind in my hair, hands firmly planted in my bike handlebar from stress and joy and me pedaling :)) yesss, can't wait for new adventures!
August: Bicycle trip to Cambridge with my creative pals. The best day of them all. Again.. bicycles, wonderful women and sunshine is a recipe for happiness!
September: Moving into a studio space! I never had a studio and always dreamt about one! The best thing that happened to me, what a perfect timing and what an absolutely amazing space. I'm now part of Kindred studios. I'm sharing the room with other creatives who are all super talented and lovely people. We also had to renovate the room. Paint the walls, take 4 layers of floor off, it was quite a long and labour intensive process but so proud of this new space and my kick ass crow bar skillz (and paint roll of course). Studio space is full of light and it makes a huge difference to my work and life balance. As well as productivity. I'm so so happy to come to work and of course leave too ;). I'm excited for the new year as I have workshops and fun things planned.
October: Friendships❤️ Investing time into my friends, making new ones, spending time with old ones. Realising how much I love being around people and have fun and dance and do silly things. Some friendships are close by, formed by time. Some are fleeting and meaningful connections and both are so special in different ways.
November: Got British Citizenship! What an amazing thing. I've been living here for 12 years and it is my home even though some people might see it in a different way.
December: Getting ready for Christmas and drawing hundreds of portraits at Live Events. Fleeting connections is one of the main reasons why I love drawing portraits. Getting content consultation and a talk with a studio curator, planning my workflow for the future and getting some strategy and goals into my work.
So this time between Christmas and New Year for me is even more important than any other year. As really I have an absolutely blank page in front of me. Which is both terrifying and exciting. This year was all about accepting what is even when it's shit and adjusting and finding it ok (even when I have to wear socks with sandals), the divorce, anxiety attacks, stress, happiness from unexpected places, rediscovering love for small things and enjoying quiet moments in life. Kindness from my friends and people who I barely know but showed so much warmth and support it feels my heart with joy. I made and became closer to my friends, who are wonderful people and loves of my life, thank you, thank you, thank you! This year taught me to be more grounded and kinder to myself both in professional and in personal spheres. I did a lot of creative things which are outside of my comfort zone and made me worried but I'm so happy I did. I painted, I made, I designed products and taught workshops and created social media content for pretty awesome companies. This year I learned to take things one at a time. To accept the person I am, to ask what I want to do, where I want to go. Somehow I became more confident in myself (even though my brain told me that I should shatter into pieces), I am taking up more space as a human woman illustrator and not apologising for it. I'm voicing my opinion without doubting it. I'm learning to rewire a lot of things in my brain and thankful for feminism, creativity, community, change.
Next year I want to continue to embrace things which are coming my way but ask more questions and have more direction. Make decisions. Learn to say no to things. Book holidays and time off in advance. Spend time with friends. Get a dog (haha, I WISH), Sign up to tinder or something (joking, I'm not quite sure I really mean it I've heard so many awful stories). Eat more veggies, go on more bike rides, do more yoga and be kind to myself and emm.. figure things out (haha yeah right :)) ;). I will be pushing myself out of my comfort zone into the wild. Otherwise how I'll ever be able to do an exhibition of my work, have my book published and go to Japan?! I still want my work to be making people smile and to be visually pleasing and semantically light. ;)
Endings are sad but I LOVE NEW BEGINNINGS.
Thank you so much for reading this massive post and I hope you don't mind me oversharing. I often find that I don't channel my sad feelings into my work as it's quite positive and like a little escape for me and I hope for you too. But it was important to share these things. In case if you are going through something similar or just in general feeling down, you are not alone and you are wonderful. And you can always reach out. I'm here.❤️ And.. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
photo by Ron