Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In Which We Look Back and Begin to Look Forward

Happy New Year, friends!
Not my photo, but I think we can agree its a pretty cool one.

I've been wanting to write a Year in Review for a while now, so here it is. 2013 a really great year for me. So much happened, and it set the stage for a lot more to happen in 2014.

This year began with me enjoying the professional attention I garnered from this feature on the well know children's literature blog "7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast." I was contacted by several editors, authors and illustrators of prodigious talent, offering advice, encouragement and help. It was fantastic.

Around the same time, I was commissioned to illustrate a middle grade novel, the first full-length book project I had ever worked on. It was for a small publishing company in Utah. While the project did not end up being very successful, it was a good teaching experience on how to create a lengthy visual narrative on a tight deadline, good practice in character continuity, and a bit of a tough lesson on what sort of contracts to say yes and no to in the future.

Shortly after that, I was asked by an Art Director at EA Games if I would like to work as a concept artist for some in-development Ipad games, alongside my friend and talented cartoonist Zackariah Ausgotharp. I had made the acquaintance of the director the year before, and was overjoyed to be invited onto the project. It was a great gig, and we had a ton of fun.

The end of this last school year marked my departure from Snow College in Ephraim Utah. The school had been very good to me. My professors where great, my peers clever, insightful and supportive, and learning prodigious. I felt ready to set off into the world to make my way as an illustrator.

Before this could occur, however, I was staying at my parents home in central Utah preparing for the weddings of both my older sister and younger sister. I gained two brothers-in-law, and we all somehow made it through all the preparations and events in more or less one piece.

Immediately after these weddings occurred, I accomplished a big dream of mine: moving to New York City. I was so excited to return to the city that I loved so much. I flew in on July 10th, 2013.

I spent the first few months renting out the guest room of my friends and housemates, journalists, writers and lovers of really good food Penn and Brandon, as well as their two cats. I enjoyed being back in the city, attending concerts, spending days at the museums, eating glorious meals and making hosts of new friends. Brandon and Penn treated my to great tours of my new neighborhood in Brooklyn, and I began to settle in nicely

On my flight out to New York, I received an email from Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary Agency saying that he had been introduced to my work and that he was interested in meeting. A mere two weeks later, I had a great meeting with Stephen that resulted in him becoming my agent! I was so nervous going to that first meeting. I still didn't know certain areas of Manhattan very well at the time, and got pretty lost on the way. I'm afraid I looked a little flustered.

After a while, Brandon, Penn and I moved out of our little place and into a much bigger one, a beautiful brownstone deep in Brooklyn. We were joined by Matt, a Floridian, animation nerd and all around great guy, as well as his nice-though-somewhat-needy dog. Our household now complete, we celebrated by buying lots of books and saying somewhat nasty things to each other during heated games of Munchkin.

All the while, I took a part time job running the cash register at an art store near the Pratt Institute, so that I may support myself while I worked on getting my illustration career going full speed. I met some great folks, earned a fair amount of money, and eventually ended up needing to leave the job (a long story involving holiday madness and some corporate skulduggery).

Meanwhile, I worked on various projects, both personal and ones that my agent brought me. Some are still in progress, and I hope to be able to share them with you all soon. I was able to meet and/or be put in touch with several creative types I have long admired, among them Oliver Jeffers, Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Julie Danielson, Susan Rich, Brett Helquist, Betsy Bird, Aaron Becker and quite a few others. I met with representatives from a publishing company or two, and I got some great projects underway.

In this year, I have chased my dreams, finally buckled and signed up for Twitter, made new friends, reconnected with old ones, hosted a kick-butt thanksgiving like a real adult, and only got sick once. It's been a great year.

If you've made it this far in your reading, I congratulate and thank you. Were I able, I would even reward you with cookies (sorry). Thank you to all my friends and family, old and new, who stood by me this year and made it one of my best ones yet. I look forward to the adventures of the new year, big and small, professional and personal. I look forward to spending time with my current friends and to making lots of new ones. I look forward to creating, to telling stories, and to living a grand story of my own.

Happy New Year, friends.
Cheers.

1 comment:

  1. Adridge, this made me ridiculously happy. I understand that it was written quite awhile ago, but I enjoyed reading this post nonetheless. I'm so excited for you and what's ahead. But more than that, I'm so so SO proud of you for the courage you have to chase your dreams and making things happen. You're an inspiration, and I look forward to every future post you'll put on the blog. Congrats again!

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