• Jemma Jose

2021 Reflections

Reflecting on the year that's passed can be a good thing because (a) it's an opportunity to be grateful, something I don't practice often as I tend to focus on what went wrong and how it could have been different and (b) it can help me understand my work. Freelancing is something that each person figures out for themselves and perhaps by plotting your significant decisions over the past year, you can see what worked and what didn't and use those findings to improve.


A big change for me this year was finding my focus professionally. 2021 was the year I committed to being a kidlit and comics illustrator and left 'animation' off of my job title. And I have to say, I've felt a huge sense of relief since! I thoroughly enjoy the process of illustrating stories and it feels like the best fit for my skills. And hooray! I also got signed on by a literary agent at Harvey Klinger Literary Agency and am now part of a little family of illustrators and book lovers who keep my spirits and portfolio strong.

That said, it was another slow year for me work wise. My projects mostly consisted of custom portraits for individuals and small businesses and a whole bunch of projects that didn't happen because of budget or time constraints. I will admit that there were many times I felt defeated by my decision to freelance. It took effort to remind myself to stay strong and hope for better projects to come. It also took effort to channel my energies into reviewing my portfolio rather than despair and see what artwork I could create to fill in any potential gaps.


Signing on with an agent didn't get me projects immediately but, it's too soon to tell. I'll have more info in the coming months and I plan on making a dedicated post on my literary agent experience soon.


My favourite project this year was a podcast cover I got to design called Tigress on Tuk Tuk. From scheduling and brainstorming with the client to final execution, it was a very good experience.


I also discovered how much I like making comics. I find sequential storytelling very cool and I thought that animation was the only way I could put story and drawing together. But, with every comic I drew this year, I felt my artistic voice get louder and clearer. There is a lot I need to learn to understand the nuances of this medium, but it's work I'm happy to put in.


Comics was also how I was able to grieve the passing of my father. I have not been able to process pain or sadness through my art before but when he left, the words came to my head and the drawings followed. I took a few weeks to work solely on those comics and it helped me process this loss a lot. It also brought me in touch with some wonderful people on social media who were kind enough to share their stories with me.


On a personal note, I started exercising outdoors with the Quad, which felt awesome after two years of doing home workouts but not really doing them if you know what I mean :P It turns out that working and working out in the same space simply doesn't work for me.


We also went on a trip with friends. For the last two years, I have been frightened of ever venturing outside, but this trip helped me get out of my head. We drove to a wonderfully secluded tea estate in Kothagiri, which is just outside Chennai, and passed the days with great food and music. Sigh! I do wish bonfire nights were a regular thing.


And lastly, it was a good year for reading. I read a total of 15 books which I am really proud of! After years of ignoring books in favour of movies, it felt nice to spend quiet time with books and bring the stories alive in my head using only my imagination. Here are a few that I enjoyed reading:


So, there were some good things and some sad things but, that's the way it goes, isn't it?


My plan for the coming year is:

- To read more books because it'll help me be more comfortable with silence as well as improve my concentration.

- To level up my comic making skills simply by drawing them more often.

- Maybe try another hobby? Scrapbooking looks very interesting and I have been filling my instagram algorithm with videos of artists who make those tiny scrapbook journals. Love it!

- To plan my blog posts better so that I'm consistently post 1-2 times a month. I have A LOT of ideas to turn into posts but they need better planning if I want to complete them on schedule.


So no resolutions, just broad plans that take off from what I felt worked for me this year. And of course, always hoping for the best!


So, I want to wish you all a peaceful new year and hope you have a wonderful holiday! See you in the new year with more art-related fun things ♡

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Hello! My name is Jemma and I'm a children's book illustrator based in Chennai, India. Welcome to my blog, where I share tips, tutorials and advice related to all things illustration. I hope you will find some helpful resources here. 

 

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