top of page

Embracing Change: An Artist's Reflection on 2023 and the Road Ahead

A paper cut illustration of the Roman god Janus, depicted as a young man with two heads, one looking reflectively to the past and the other looking upwards hopefully towards the future
Janus, Roman god of transitions (illustration © 2024 Heather Bowley)

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! As January unfolds, I find myself reflecting on the journey of the past year and contemplating the artistic path that lies ahead. The shift from one year to the next always makes me think about how we record time. 2023, 2024... although the years are essentially just arbitrary, manmade markers, they serve as an important way to gauge how far we've come and what we've achieved.

The month January gets its name from Janus – the Roman god of change and transitions. Depicted as having two faces, Janus represented the two sides of key dualities such as life and death, beginning and end, youth and adulthood and war and peace. He also symbolised time, as he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Like Janus, I find myself at a point of transition. Art is no longer just a serious hobby; it's turning into a career, and with that shift have come a few changes. So join me as I talk about what I've achieved in the past year and what's on the horizon for 2024.

A picture of a Cricut Maker 3 machine cutting a sheet of purple paper
My new workshop buddy, the Cricut Maker 3

Recapping 2023

The past year marked a significant shift for me, where art transformed from a serious hobby to a primary source of income. In the first half of the year I revamped my brand, launched a new website, and added a paper cutting machine to my creative toolkit. Perhaps as a result of my efforts, my Etsy shop took off this year: I successfully completed dozens of portrait orders to rave reviews from my customers. Plus, I'm now a proud member of the Valencian Association of Illustration Professionals (APIV).

Navigating Challenges

Spending more time in the studio brought along its own set of challenges, where efficient time management became crucial. Freelancing has had its roller-coaster moments – there were a couple of really busy times during the year including a sudden influx of orders from my shop in the run up Christmas which meant working overtime to get them out on time. Balancing this with maintaining an active social media presence was a real learning curve, but as a result of these stressful moments I've come to appreciate the significance of forward planning, especially during busy spells

Artistic Growth

I'm so proud of the progress I made as a freelance artist in 2023. I learnt how to create a company logo and develop a brand identity, as well as how to build my own website, none of which were things I knew how to do this time last year! With so many new projects my paper sculpture technique evolved, and I began to incorporate digital technology into my work. I participated in a number of online courses provided by platforms like Etsy and Skillshare, which played a pivotal role in expanding my skill set. With the help of these experiences, I feel better able to deal with the challenges of creative freelancing in 2024.

A double page spread of logo designs from the brand book of artist Heather Bowley (Made by Heather).
A page from my brand book

A pile of paper cut concertina-style Christmas cards on a grey cutting mat.
Some of my recent card designs

Art Goals for 2024

The achievements, challenges, and newfound skills from the past year have laid the groundwork for my goals in 2024. The biggest thing I've learnt is the importance of having a dedicated calendar, to stay on top of organisation. I'm also keen to move into the field of illustration more seriously, experimenting with three-dimensional techniques in paper sculpture inspired by my background in model making as well as participating in more call-outs and competitions.

In response to requests from some of my Etsy customers, I plan to diversify my product range by creating customisable cards, and adding more pop-up cards. Finally, I hope to document and share more of my creative journey, allowing my followers to get to know me better. So in the spirit of Janus, the Roman god of transitions, let's embrace the changes and possibilities that lie ahead. Here's to a creatively fulfilling 2024!

19 views0 comments


bottom of page