Happy New Year's Eve Darlings!!
For many of you it might already be 2015. Since having two weeks of vacation away from New York, and the hustle bustle of my work agenda, I really wanted to take some time to reflect on the past year. So much happened in 2014. It was such a hugely monumental year for me and my career. I think it's important to look back, before moving forward, to see just how far you've come.
Truth be told I'm a bit anxious over whether I can keep the momentum going. This past year alone I traveled from Paris, to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, to Miami, Moscow, and Bermuda with several comings and goings to Toronto in between. Before I start looking to all the things I hope to accomplish in 2015, I feel like I owe it to myself and everyone who helped me along the way, to express my gratitude for all the good that came this past year. So without further adieu, here is my Top 10 from 2014!!!!:
1. Obtaining My 0-1 Artist Visa and Co-Founding MMILLUSTRATION LLC:
From the time I set out to New York 5.5 years ago, my dream has always been to be a full-time fashion illustrator. Traveling the world and illustrating the adventure through a fashion-art lens was the pipe dream for many years until 2014 saw it finally come into fruition. This time last year I received approval for my 0-1 artist visa, which is one of the most difficult visas to obtain in the United States. It became clear to me by February of 2014 that the only way I was going to be able to travel, write, and draw for a living was if I founded my own company and quit my full-time job. Obtaining my O-1 and launching MMILLUSTRATION LLC this past August has been the key to my autonomy in New York and the greatest achievement of my life to date. Don't be afraid, be fearless, and the rest will all fall into place.
From the time I was in high school, and old enough to appreciate Snoop Dogg and Pharrell's Beautiful, I have always dreamed of seeing Brazil and Argentina. Making my first trip to this continent was nothing short of spectacular. I came back with boatloads of inspiration as attested by my Postcard from Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. I even created an inspired original series of illustrations for Ugallery called the Colors of Brazil. The food, people, climate, art, fashion, lifestyle, music, and scents had me totally in love with both destinations. Such a dream come true and has only ignited my insatiable appetite for travel that much more.
After quitting my full-time job August 18th, I launched my new career as a full-time fashion illustrator with the start of New York Fashion Week Sept 3rd, 2014. I partnered with The Style Line for an incredible guest illustrator role that saw me drawing live at 14 different shows. I felt like the experience was my official debut as a New York illustrator. I got to draw Coco Rocha live backstage at Noon by Noor and had my illustrations shared by 90% of the designers who's shows I attended.
During the chaos of New York Fashion Week, I capped off the marathon with an amazing event at Saks with M Missoni where I illustrated customer's portraits during the FW14 collection preview. The event was such a success that Saks brought me back to illustrate for two more in-store events including Tanya Taylor and Hanro of Switzerland for their 130th Anniversary celebration.
I will never forget checking my Instagram account @travelwritedraw the morning of September 19th, 2014. My message inbox had a new notification and inside was a golden instagram icon and a congratulations from the team. I was told that I was being listed as a suggested user and to prepare for 1000's of new followers. I would be listed for a minimum of two weeks and be recommended to all the new users on the app. From the time I was featured, to the time I was removed three weeks later, my following grew from 8,000 - 145,000!! While I still have mixed feelings about opening my account up to less engaged users, it was still a major honor to be told that I truly embodied what the app hoped to achieve.
After years and years of watching the fashion and art world flock to Miami for Art Basel, I decided it was finally time to see what all the fuss was about. The same day I was listed as an Instagram suggested user, I was also coincidentally packing my bags for my birthday trip to Miami!! I loved EVERYTHING about this city. The weather was balmy, the music was everything normally on my iPhone playlist, and the art was so much greater than I ever imagined it would be. It was an instagramer's paradise. My Postcard from Miami, an explosion of color, can attest to this.
7. Guest Illustrator at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia (and First Vogue Feature):
One Saturday afternoon mid October while sifting through handheld scanners at Best Buy, I got the email asking if I would be interested in attending MBFWRussia in Moscow in two weeks to illustrate live from the shows. I immediately started jumping up and down in the aisle in complete disbelief. Could I really be this lucky? Was this actually happening? About two hours later I was on a skype call with the founder and CEO of MBFWRussia planning my cover issue for the official fashion week magazine and organizing the details for my visa into Russia. Two weeks later, on Oct 20th, I departed and had the absolute time of my life. Also, to put the cherry on the sundae, all of my illustrations were published daily to VOGUE Russia which was my first ever feature in the big V.O.G.U.E!!
The day I left Russia to return to New York was also the day it was announced that I had officially signed with The Illustration Room as their newest artist. Since finishing my Illustration degree at FIT I have been working towards signing with an agent but I had to find the right one. After a few discussions and skype calls with Katie over at TIR I knew it was the right fit - she quite simply got me. She could see how different my use of color and travel inspired illustrations were from what currently existed on the market. This has helped me infinitely to grow as an artist and better understand my personal brand.
9. Traveled to Bermuda with Conde Nast Traveler:
When I started Travel Write Draw back in 2010, my dream client in mind was Conde Nast Traveler. After about two days of being back from Moscow I got an email in my inbox with the subject line "Conde Nast Traveler Opportunity for Meagan Morrison". I had just woken from a nap and honestly thought I was hallucinating from the jet lag!! Can you imagine how I must have felt reading that email? The trip was quite literally a Travel Write Draw adventure, just as I had always imagined. I met local Bermudian artisans and illustrated from the experience. I cannot wait for the March 2015 issue of the magazine and hope that there are plenty more opportunities like this to come.
InStyle Magazine as a Top 15 Fashion Meets Art Instagram Account to Follow:
This was such an incredible honor and also the first I had been acknowledged by one of the big New York glossies as not only an illustrator but also a social media influencer. I was beyond ecstatic to see my account @TravelWriteDraw listed next to some of my favorite art accounts out there.
2014 was a really big year and my only hope is to keep going in this direction. If I've learned anything these past few years though it would be to keep your head down and just keep trying. The rest is out of our control.