Each year, I complete a creative annual review to assess what I accomplished, evaluate the techniques and tools that I used, and think ahead to the next year’s creative goals. My creative review process focuses on my writing and graphic design / illustration, with an emphasis on the creative work I do outside of my day job.
My Creative Productivity in 2017
What creative work I Made in 2017
Illustration for short story “Amber: Liquid, Whispering”
My 2017 Productivity by the Numbers (from RescueTime)
- 277 hours writing
- 61 hours during NaNoWriMo
- 24 hours of hard-copy edits
- 12 hours of hard-copy outlining
- 52 hours design + drawing + photoshop
- 1.25 hours / day on creative work
- Goal was 1.5 hours / day (or 10.5 hours / week) — met goal 115 times
The trail at Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park winds through trees stunted by chilly breeze off the glaciers above
Although the Rocky Mountains of Alberta mark the boundary of Cascadia, I wanted to share this free texture collection from our midwest neighboring region. The ten textures include bark from the conifer forests of the Rockies, lichen-covered rocks from the alpine scree, water calm and rough, and stone worn by water.
Textures from Jasper National Park
Flaky conifer bark texture at Jasper National Park
Conifer bark dotted with dark lichen and sap at Jasper National Park
Red orange lichen explosively dots iron brown stone at Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park
A mottled orange stone at Edith Cavell at Jasper National Park is weathered into smooth facets almost like the surface of water
A glimpse of the forest on the Bean Creek Basin trail in the Teanaway.
Enjoy these textures of the Teanaway area of the Eastern Cascade Mountains of Washington State, free for artists and graphic designers to use in your commercial and personal creative projects (with attribution, see bottom of post).
The arid Ponderosa forests of the eastern Cascade Mountains remind this California transplant of the High Eastern Sierras. My first introduction to the Teanaway area was on a plant sketching expedition, through a Mountaineers native plants class, and I was bewitched. That day, we stayed at low elevation, but I ventured up the steeper path of Bean Creek Basin the day I took these texture images. We climbed through a lush creek ravine, up a sparsely wooded Ponderosa pine forest, then broke out into a more sub-alpine community with lupine carpeting the ground.
Furrows in this Ponderosa pine bark turn dark.
Logs collect at the high tide mark at the beach at Cape Disappointment State Park.
Enjoy these textures of the Washington State coast, free for artists and graphic designers to use in your commercial and personal creative projects (with attribution, see bottom of post).
Washington’s Pacific coastline has sandy beaches, uncommon for those of us based in Seattle. The lapping, rising and falling water of the Pacific Ocean wears the sand into innumerable patterns: stripes, diamonds, ridges, ripples, triangles. Sand is dark, light, or mottled. Grains of different weights settle separately, forming patches of color and tone.
Waves leave an overlapping pattern on the sand in Ocean Shores, WA
So many layers of textures in the sand – tones of light and dark, faint diamonds, poetic squiggles like icing.
Subtle color variations in the sand create a visual rippling effect at Cape Disappointment State Park.
No one is self-made. Everyone benefits from the help of others, whether simply being inspired by their work or creations or getting direct assistance from them. There’s a risk to self-improvement, that we could become so focused on ourselves that we forget about improving the world for others. As I realize more and more clearly the privileges I’ve had in developing my career and life, I think about how I can give back to the people and places that have brought me to the happy space I am now. I’m not formally-trained in graphic design, aside from a few no-credit community college classes – I’m community-trained. What can I do to give back to my fellow creatives?
As a graphic designer, I owe other creatives for their inspiring work, generous free textures and stock photos and typefaces, and helpful tutorials. As a writer, I’m learning from writers who share wisdom about the craft as well as business advice.
Giving back is an active form of gratitude, a way to make my appreciation public. Staying silent about the help I’ve had shaping my skills and lifestyle devalues those contributions. It might go without saying, but don’t make it go without doing.