After the year that was 2020, my husband’s very scary battle with COVID this year, a house move, and my general burnout from all of the above, it’s safe to say that the Birthstone Goddesses have been VERY de-railed from being completed when I wanted them to be. I had hoped 2021 would be their grand finale! Unfortunately, due to our current economic climate and supply shortages, it’s looking like this won’t be the case.
I’ve been watching many recent crowdfunding projects be upended by paper shortages and supply chain issues with COVID still surging around the world. Paper shortages means a rising cost to things like shipping supplies and paper-based products. (This thread has a simplified explanation of the situation happening right now).
Because of all of this, I’ve come to the decision that I won’t be running any Kickstarters for the calendar or art book this year. The long of the short of it is that a small creator like me is in danger of being massively overwhelmed by the unpredictable costs involved.
Even if I can’t do these things this year, I’m still primed to share my journey as I prep these products for production! Here’s a look at my current agenda for getting the calendar and art book ready for crowdfunding, with more in-depth sneak peeks of my production process to come that I’m saving to share exclusively with my Patrons.
Wall Calendar To Do List
- Find/Create 2023 calendar templates
- Create any extra art needed for layouts
- Get quotes & proofs from the local printer who did the coloring books (This will have to wait until paper prices go down).
- Create marketing images and plan for the Kickstarter
Art Book To Do List
- Create the book’s flat plan layout
- Create extra interior elements needed for each section
- Finish additional paintings! I want to make some special unpublished paintings just for the book.
- Hire a book layout designer (if this task proves overwhelming for me alone)
- Figure out which book printer to use and get quotes
- Plan two different versions for regular and deluxe
- Create marketing images and plan for the Kickstarter
Should the production issues continue, my backup plan for the interim is to work on a series of Birthstone-themed pendant necklaces based on each Goddess’ mandala window.
While there will still be paper-based products involved, I suspect this will be far easier to manage than anything that relies more heavily on paper pulp, like books or calendars.
(The Lady of December’s mandala window design.)
I have to shout out The Forager’s Daughter’s amazing pendants which made me realize that my designs might also make lovely pendants in the same cloisonné style.
I’ve been wanting to create jewelry items to include in gift sets for each Goddess for a long time now and I think a pendant necklace would be the perfect thing!
That’s all the Birthstone Goddess news I have for now! I’m going to keep chipping away at the to-do list and sharing what I can as we navigate these uncertain waters.
I’d normally save this kind of article to be exclusive for my Patrons, but I wanted to share this particular article with everyone to offer a little peek behind the curtains of building a website for a creative project.
I’ve already written a Patrons-only series of articles where I go deeper into the website re-design process for my Angelic Shades site, should you want a more in-depth glimpse of why I made certain design choices, designing with my audience in mind, etc. with many visual aides that guide you through the process.
You can check out that series here as long as you’re pledged at any tier here:
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 1 – Planning & Layout
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 2 – The Index Page
- Secret Sketchbook – Website Redesign Part 3 – Galleries
The Old Site
Lately, I’ve been re-centering my art business and making sure I have a strong core presence online with my websites and social media before I move into expanding any further. The pandemic taught me that I’ve let my online presentation go lax and without the promise of consistent income from in-person events anymore, it’s been far past time to step up my online biz game!
While I have Angelic Shades as my main Art Nouveau/Fine Art site, my Gemstone Goddesses project has far outgrown the single page space it had on that site! I’ve created so much work for this project that it doesn’t fit in a single collection anymore.
I also had a problem. I started out this adventure creating with the intention of a single Birthstone Goddesses set. Somewhere along the way, my ambitions evolved and I realized it would be amazing to do more Goddesses dedicated to other gemstones, as well! Why not a Goddess for sunflowers and Sunstone and the like? And thus, my project evolved to be more inclusive with the name Gemstone Goddesses.
This meant that my old website that featured the Birthstone Goddesses in a calendar-inspired splash page became outdated:
The New Site
Now, my website needs to be more inclusive of other Goddesses and future-proofed for additional entries into the series. I took what I liked about the layout from my Angelic Shades redesign and applied it to my old Gemstone Goddesses site. Here’s the redesigned Angelic Shades site for reference:
Here’s a mockup created in Photoshop of how I want the new Gemstone Goddesses site to look. The dotted line shows where the viewer will have to scroll, with everything above that line being the most important info I want my viewers to see first.
I’ve included a lot more info for viewers to explore on the new site. I’m not sure if I need to include the bar which lets folks explore by gemstone color, but I like the idea that if someone doesn’t know the name of the stone, they can search by color to find what they need. What do you all think? Would searching by gem color be useful to you?
A side by side comparison of the old vs new Gemstone Goddesses site:
Before I even made this mockup, I did a very rough version on paper first to sort out my thoughts. This helped me figure out how to minimize the navigation menu and what sub-menus I’d like to include.
Next comes building the new layout in WordPress! I also want to re-photograph all of the Birthstone Goddesses’ framed pieces, but that may not be doable until after our house move.
I want to do something a little special when I re-launch the site. Perhaps a give away or a hidden Easter egg? We’ll see what strikes me when the site becomes closer to being a reality! For now, it’s nose to the grindstone to create all the interconnected gallery pages that will form the vast majority of this website.
I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes! Working on this site may mean less art being shared for a little while since I do everything myself, but thus is the cost of wearing multiple hats for your creative business.
I’ve had a much needed muse break with the Exalted Art Challenge, but now it’s time to return to my Birthstone Goddesses! First off, a warm welcome to the Patrons who just joined up. You’re in for a treat as we enter this final exciting phase of this project!
Over the past few years, I’ve created the main set of paintings, the Visage collection, and the enamel pins, and now I want to take the final bold steps towards the big ambitions I had for this series. Here’s a rundown of what I’m working on and what’s in store!
My dear Patrons will be getting that behind the scenes look into my design, publishing, and production process along the way, along with exclusive glimpses behind the scenes!
The Wall Calendar
Part of the major conceit of creating the original set of 12 images was that I wanted to make a wall calendar. I’m finally making moves towards this endeavor and will need to create this calendar from scratch, as the nontraditional size of the images means I will need to have them custom cut and printed.
I already have templates and a local printer in mind and I hope to launch this calendar on Kickstarter around August of this year so that it can be created in time for a 2022 calendar! Patreon Patrons will be getting an exclusive peek at how I’m designing the layouts and other creative notes along the way.
(The main set of 12 paintings.)
The Art Book
What better way to wrap up this project then to collect the art created for it into a luxurious book? This is my crown jewel, the ultimate showpiece of this series! One of my biggest endeavors to happen next is to start working on the book’s storyboards. I want to not just show off the art, but part of the narrative and research I’ve developed over time for this series as well as create an elegant collectible volume.
I also want to create never before seen paintings for this book (which you can see a hint at the thumbnails in the featured image of this piece). I’m calling these new paintings the ‘Dark Goddesses’, as I’m taking some of my favorite Goddesses from the series and giving them a new rendition in my own style!
I adore Mucha, but I also want to leave my own mark with this series that shows more of my own style than Mucha’s. These new paintings will be much more of my own dark elegant surreal aesthetic, which I hope you will still enjoy!
There’ll no doubt be many tasks that need doing, from spot illustrations to hiring a proper designer to help me with the book layout, but I expect to get the majority of work done before I Kickstart this book, which I want to happen in 2022. 2021 is going to be about all the prep work!
As ever, I’ll also be sharing sneak peeks of the Dark Goddesses paintings and other book tasks exclusively for Patrons!
Other Birthstone Goddesses Collections
I still have it in mind to release the following things along the way. Some of them have already been created, but still await a proper release!
- Stickers – These designs have already been completed, but aren’t in my shop yet. Currently researching dropship fulfillment options!
- Totes/Messenger Bags – I test ran these at DragonCon a couple of years back. I sold out completely so it’s time to get them ready for a proper release in my shop!
- Scarves – These also did well at the last in-person event I was at! I’ll be taking customer feedback to heart so I can re-release them properly to my shop.
- Greeting Cards – I already have designs for these, but am still working on setting them up with a dropship fulfillment system like Printful and Art of Where.
- Gift Sets – I’ve always felt proper birthday gift sets featuring everyone’s favorite products matched to birthstone-themed jewelry and a pretty dried flowers (or perhaps a sticker?) would be an exciting thing to offer! I’m still coming up with ideas of what to bundle together and how to present them so I can make them available for everyone.
My Would-be Dream Collections
These are wishes for cool things I’m not sure how to make happen, but hope that speaking aloud might happen some day!
Birthstone Goddess Jewelry – I really want to expand the Goddesses into some beautiful wearables so you can channel that feel you get when you look at the art through yourself as well! Gorgeous jewelry is part and parcel of the Art Nouveau movement and I would love to pay homage to that fact by collaborating with a jewelry-maker.
Make-up Palettes – I love, LOVE seeing beautifully illustrated makeup sets with inspiring swatches. Each Birthstone Goddess has her own color scheme based on her flowers and birthstones as well, which seems like a perfect match for makeup. Plus the idea of illustrating a cover with a focus on the glamourous side of my Goddesses sounds so exciting!
Teas, Perfumes, Bath Bombs, and/or Soaps – All of these things bring me comfort and a sense of calm, while also having a luxurious feel and aesthetic to them. I’m especially a sucker for tea mixes and fancifully illustrated tea labels!
Know of anyone I should talk to about these ideas? Feel free to message their contact info to me and I’ll add them to the prospects list for when I am read to expand into these endeavors!
I’ve got a lot to do as a 1-person biz, but I’m excited to get back into the fray! I’ll be working through Emily Jefford’s Making Art Work marketing course over the next couple of months and am looking forward to gaining new insight on how to handle all of my ambitions for this series.
It’s been an amazing journey thus far in the 6 or so years I’ve been at this! I’m excited to share the last leg of the journey and see what it reveals. My hope is that this series would become the backbone of a self-sustaining business and I’m just starting to see good results from that.
Here’s to a future filled with beautiful art that I hope will bring you as much happiness as I’ve had in the sharing of it with you!
July has ended and it’s been a strange mix of some great milestones here, but also an acknowledgement of my continued struggle with burnout.
To start off, Kev and I packed up the FINAL Kickstarter order after a year and change of consecutive Kickstarter campaigns dedicated to the Birthstone Goddesses enamel pins!
It’s been amazing to see how fans, new and old, have turned out to support this pin series’ creation. The pins are complete and I am so happy with them! That’s one big project milestone for the Birthstone Goddesses complete:
(The entire series is now available in my shop!)
Now, we can sit back and get some much needed rest! This year-long journey has shown me what my limits are as a one-person business and that I just can’t do this all by myself without sacrificing my well-being. It shows me I can only do two Kickstarters a year at most, and that it’s super important for my creative wells to not sacrifice so much of my time painting to business upkeep, promotion, and project management.
It showed me I was very bad at taking time off as well! It just wasn’t possible. The last few months I kept trying to take time off, but there was always something in Backerkit that needed setting up, ads to design, proofs to approved, and Kickstarter things to promote before the next deadline.
So now for vacation take three (or four?), I’m losing count! Now that there are no more Kickstarter things until next year, I’m taking some ACTUAL true and proper time off! Reading this article on artists defining and struggling with their burnout really made me pause and think about some specific strategies for myself to set better resting habits!
Our creativity is a muscle that can be strained and it’s a skill they don’t teach in school. I’m giving myself permission to have fun in August, do non-art crafty projects, and play all the video games! And THIS TIME I will not have to worry about unavoidable Kickstarter deadlines encroaching on that all-important rest time.
Coming in August
I’ll still be sharing a new coloring page and new art. I’ll be meandering with fun art, like Anko’s 6 Outfits Challenge, finishing more portraits for my charity drive, and sharing more creative journey posts here, for a little while. The Birthstone Goddesses are entering their final phase for me and there’s a lot I want to tell you all about where we’re going from here, once I’ve rested a bit!
Digest of July’s Posts
- [Secret Sketchbook] Anko’s Six Outfits Challenge – Outfit 1: Gothic Lolita Chef
- Kickstarter Post-Mortem: Birthstone Goddesses Coloring Book
- New Art! Keyword Drawings – “Dark Fairy” & “Whimsical Pinup”
New Rewards Added in July
I hope you all won’t mind seeing my continued art diversions here for a little while longer! The Birthstone Goddesses will return momentarily, but as I’ve been going full steam ahead on them for 6 years (wow!), it’s important that I let it rest for a little while to finish off the final phase with a bang! I’m planning some very different illustrations to be included in the art book and I am SO excited to get into something that’s less Mucha and more ME.
The moment we’ve been building up to for almost a year has finally come. The campaign for the final set in my Birthstone Goddesses enamel pins has launched on Kickstarter!
This launch almost didn’t happen, however. In uncertain times like this, I was very afraid to push the button! Does anyone have time for art right now? Won’t everyone be saving for other things? It felt almost irresponsible for me to do this. After some thought, I realized that it was ok to do this. Art is there for us during the dark times to bring us a bit of shine and beauty. If people connect with my project and want something to help bring that feeling to them, they should be allowed!
And honestly right now with all of my conventions canceled for the year, I’m grateful for any support that comes my way. I almost cried during my livestream of the launch after seeing the enthusiasm of fans in the chat and the fact I raised so much during my first minutes of support. It means a lot right now to me!
(Watch the launch’s livestream recording here)
Thank you all for your kindness! Especially those of you who have continued your support here on Patreon as well! It truly helps and warms the heart. I understand if anyone must drop their Pledges for financial purposes right now and doubly appreciate anyone who chooses to stay!
Before I get all sappy again, here’s the Press Kit of images and links to help with sharing my project! Ya’ll are my biggest fans and your voices are always the loudest when I run these campaigns. Share away, my lovelies!
Links to Share!
Remember to add your own commentary, if you have the time! People love to know what you think. Did you enjoy your last pins? Do you have a fave Goddess you can’t wait to see as a finished pin? Let everyone know!
- Retweet this post on Twitter
- Share and/or Like this post on Facebook
- Like this post on Instagram
- You can also link directly to the project here!
(16:9 aspect ratio Cover Photo)
(Cover Photo – Square for Instagram)
(Cover Photo – Facebook Cover Size. Feel free to snag this to use for your own Cover!)
(March’s Pin – Square for Instagram)
(March’s Pin – Rectangle for Facebook)
(April’s Pin – Square for Instagram)
(April’s Pin – Rectangle for Facebook)
(May’s Pin – Square for Instagram)
(May’s Pin – Rectangle Facebook)
(Selected Reward Tier Images)
Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on through this project. It’s been a year of pushing and creating something grand with these pins (and more years before that for the paintings)! I can’t wait to see all of these lovely designs together soon.
I hope these beauties bring you all a bit of light and happiness today!
Stay safe, friends!
Wow did January fly by or is it just me? I’ve been managing a lot of stressful situations this month, including my husband launching a deer into the stratosphere with his car (he is thankfully uninjured, but the deer was not) and many production woes involving my pins. So that’s meant a new car payment for us and dreaded Kickstarter production delays!
I’m especially grateful to my Patrons who have stayed with me through the holidays, as I know things can be tight during the holiday rush. Welcome to the new folks who’ve hopped on board this month when many are still recovering from the holiday expenses! The support is definitely helping us during the extra stress this month. For those who had to leave, I still appreciate your support during the time you were here and totally understand that life happens (Boy howdy does it. Hello, teleporting deer!).
I’m grateful that all the Kickstarter Backers have been so understanding of delays thus far as well! I’d much rather the factory workers be safe during the coronavirus outbreak, as my pins are not worth more than people’s lives! I’ve written an update about how this situation affects shipping and safety here for the curious.
Meanwhile, I’m marching ever onwards and have started designing the Goddesses of Spring pins! There’ll be a Secret Sketchbook entry showing off the creative process behind these designs within the next week or so.
I’m starting to see the finish line that’s coming after a year straight of Kickstarter projects and that feels GREAT! I love how successful these campaigns have been, but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t also pretty exhausted from doing them! I’ve learned exactly what my tolerance is for stress and project management and plan to never do this many in a row ever again (hopefully not famous last words!).
I’ve started to ponder what’s next after the Birthstone Goddesses wrap up, which could be a whole blog entry on its own! For now, I’m focusing on finishing the Birthstone Goddesses pins and the wall calendar in 2020 and then we shall see what happens at that point!
I can tell after 5 years of working on this endeavor, my muse is starting to meander with Witcher OCs and other distractions and that’s a clear sign to me that I may need to temporarily switch gears when I get to a good stopping point. But to what? I have many thoughts which I will save for a later entry once I’ve wrapped up my current queue!
New Rewards Added in January
- PSD Download: The Cobra Witcher of Ofir
- Wallpaper Pack – The Cobra Witcher of Ofir
- Wallpaper Pack – Little Gem Goddesses of Winter
Posts You May Have Missed In January
- New Art! The Cobra Witcher of Ofir
- New Art! Goddesses of Winter in Ink and Gold
- Kickstarter Post-Mortem: Goddesses of Winter Enamel Pins
- New Art! Little Gem Goddesses of Winter
I’m keen to see what amazing beginnings and endings happen in 2020! Thanks for being along for the ride.