2016 + thunderpeep

I love this time of year - although usually it's much colder and snowier - it's a time of reflection and new plans and exciting new projects. Yearly horoscopes and cleaning house.

I don't really believe in New Years Resolutions. I do however like to sit down and set a mantra for the new year and some goals. Because honestly, in life like in business, if you don't have goals you're just wasting your time.

I've been thinking a lot about how I want 2016 to look. I would like to tie up a lot of what I started towards the end of 2015. A big part of that is having the courage to make big leaps. I have faith in myself and what I want to be doing and how I want to live the next year but taking the steps to put it into action is the tough part for me. So I set myself goals of the little things to accomplish by certain dates to make it all happen.

In terms of thunderpeep I am moving forward with BOTH collections this year. You'll be getting incredible Midsummer and Polar Nights collections this year. And I mean incredible, I'm pretty damn excited for what I have lined up (and yes I've already started work on both!) And I can announce that the Midsummer is getting a pretty sweet launch too. The lovely Jen from Pikelet Workshop, who happens to also be one of my fellow leaders over at the Toronto Etsy Street Team, has secured us a venue for the our Summer show on the Saturday of the Midsummer Weekend. YES. Not only do we get to have a totally rad theme (I'm still trying to get rad to catch on again....) but I'm using it to motivate me to have the best collection yet - since I have such a great venue to launch it at. I'm still trying to figure out what to do to launch the Polar Nights, but I'm sure it'll be great too.

Shows will still be at a minimum. I'll be focusing on some collaborations and licensing and publishing more than production. Actually collaborations are a big focus for 2016. I have so many amazingly creative friends, I wanted a chance to work with them. So I asked. And so far I've got 2 yeses and one perhaps. That is a major win for us all!

On a personal note, this year I'm really focusing on making my big trip a reality and getting into planning mode. I LOVE trip planning. Finding all sorts of interesting spots to go in each city and country. Now quite a bit of my trip will depend on how this year plays out. Some of the countries I want to visit are a bit volatile. That's part of the reason I want to go, but safety first kids! One of those such places was just recently added to my list of destinations. Odessa, Ukraine. After I saw this image

Yes, after passing a bill that bans all Communist propaganda within the country, artist Alexander Milov transformed the former Lenin statue into one of Darth Vader. You can read all about it here. I mean, how can you not want to see this in real life? I'll write all about my reasons for adding Ukraine to my list of countries in a later post, along with all the other countries. I really want to share my reasons for this trip so get ready.

How about you, any big goals or plans for 2016 that you want to share?


Happy Winter and The Ice Maiden

It's here. My favourite time of the year. Winter. I'll pause while the majority of you grunt.

All done now? Good. Because while it may have snowed for about 25 minutes here in Toronto on Saturday, there is still no real sign of winter here. I'm in the minority of unhappy people, but I expect to gain some supporters once the 24th hits and people start to cry in their egg nogs that there will be no snow for Christmas.

The coming of Winter, the Winter Solstice, Midwinter... whatever you may choose to call it, tends to be overlooked a) because most people are cry babies about the cold and b) everyone is focused on Christmas. Not here at thunderpeep headquarters. This is our second favourite day of the year (the first of coarse being the celebration of my birth) And it's done up in style. Or at least I try. I have to admit I don't have as many supporters in my Midwinter celebration, but every year I try.

The Midwinter celebration is similar to it's sister Midsummer in the sense that it is a welcoming of the light. You might find that strange as it's the longest and darkest day of the year. But because it's the longest, that means after the solstice, the days actually start to get longer. And while modern society actually recognizes the 4 seasons, these celebrations date back to Viking times, and the Vikings only celebrated the 2 Summer and Winter seasons. So to them, this was the middle of winter, it was the start of the trek back to light and summer. The Vikings Midwinter feast was actually a 12 day celebration (sound familiar?) with sacrifices to the Gods, lot's of eating and drinking, the burning of a Sunwheel, and the Yule log. Now while we are all familiar with the Yule log cake (which I'm making for the first time this year) in Viking times it was a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew, that they carved Runes on to while seeking protection from any misfortunes. The Viking Yule is still celebrated in some areas of the world and who knows, maybe in the future I'll make it to one. But for this year I hosted some friends for a giant smorgasbord feast. In front of my new fake fireplace. 2 days before the actual solstice. You do what you can. There is ZERO chance of snow for the changing of the season. Don't even get me started.

Now, I did promise you some Good vs. Evil fun to help ring in the season. And, that isn't necessarily going to happen. I was too busy having fun and the piece still isn't finished. BUT don't be sad, I can give you sneak peek. Or an introduction. While I was originally going to work all the pieces in the collection in a similar format, this one has taken a bit of a different direction. And, being as this is one of my all time favourite stories, we'll let it.

The next instalment is inspired by Hans Christian Andersens' the Ice Maiden. It was actually the first piece I started working on, but it's also been the most difficult to finish. There are just so many themes in the story, choosing one direction that does the story justice is a struggle. So I just decided to go with what stuck out the most to me in the story. The theme of hope and believing. While The Ice Maiden differs to the Snow White story in that it does not end with a clean and happy win for the Good side, well let's just say Evil has to patiently work for her victory. There's also a bit of a tainted love vibe. And that's all your getting for now. Except for a sneak peek at The Ice Maiden herself.


That's a wrap!

Santa and I at the TEST Christmas Marketplace.

Yesterday was my last show of 2015. I didn't do too many shows this year and the ones I did do were small and intimate, where I got a chance to meet and chat with all sorts of fun and interesting folk. Next to seeing my creations come to life there is no better feeling than watching people reacting to them. I have so many great memories of watching people flip through the Midsummer book and then hearing the feedback from people who've read or even better read it to their kids. The few who connected with the subtle imagery in the Good vs. Evil calendar illustration that was pulled from the original Grimms story (not that silly Disney version) Sometimes it's not about the sale, it's about the connection. And some of my best memories from this past year were the great conversations about one of my products, that didn't end in a sale. At least not at the show ;)

But one story that is leaving a sweet note on the end of my year... I have this friend Pam. She's a potter who makes gorgeous potted pieces under the name Curious Bird pottery. Not only is she one of my favourite people, she has two 3 year old twin boys who are the most adorable things. And she bought one of the Midsummer books for them at the Made in Canada show. Since then, every time I see her she tells me a different story about the boys and the story. I love hearing all the little things they like about the book and how they have embraced some of the graphic details as well. Like the stripe stripe dot dot on the trees. They are going to be very clever Troll hunters when they get a bit bigger! Now this is all awesome, but it must also be noted that Pam is a teacher. If I had written a bad story, no teacher would let their kids near that book. Thank you Pam.

As I wrap up the show calendar my favourite season is quickly approaching. Winter. It's quite sad here in Toronto, we have no signs of winter weather coming anytime soon. And I can only handle so much grey dreary weather in December. It should be sunny and WHITE! Why else would I have moved back here? And with the Winter solstice comes the launch of the next Illustration in the Good vs Evil collection. One that is most appropriate for the coming of the frozen season. It also happens to be inspired by my all-time favourite fairy tale. I can't wait to share it.

PS. If you notice anything odd on the blog in the next few weeks, I'm updating the template and there will most definitely be hiccups! 


Falling back into old habits

It's been tough lately to remind myself what I'm striving for. It's hard not to fall back into old habits and patterns. It's hard to stay focused and on your own path. Especially when life gets busy and you just try to stay on top of things and need to find the easiest ways to get all the shit done.

That's a terrible statement to make. But that's exactly where I found myself a few months ago.

Still feeling a bit unsure on where I was and where I needed to go to move forward I found myself at the centre of a shit storm. Mostly of my own doing, but things just needed to get done. That's what happens when you take on too much. Between planning and selling at shows and staying on top of the online orders, with life throwing as many obstacles as possible, I was still falling back on the old ways and old products. It was easy and I knew they'd sell well. Exactly what I didn't want to be doing. And I was miserable.

Hence the radio silence on the blog. I always try to share the good, the bad and the ugly. But the ugly wasn't something I even wanted to acknowledge, let alone share. Some things are still just a bit too personal for me.

I started this post on Thanksgiving weekend (the Canadian one) but thought it was a good time to come back to it. The year is coming to a close, the shop is in the midst of it's Christmas frenzy and I'm already planning on all the fun things I get to do with all the down time come the middle of December. And I'm feeling good about it all. All those hard times reminded me of what's important. Who's important. And why I'm on this journey of rebranding my life.

So, it's time to jump now. Come January you are going to see some big changes on the website and in the shops. 2015 was all about self-reflection and discovery,  finding my voice and reconnecting with my passion. Now we can all move forward into 2016.


Holiday Freebie Friday

It's been awhile since I did a Friday download here, so I though I'd share this little Holiday organizer that I did up for a blog post over on Creative Clementine - some of my tips for staying sane over busy times. I can't take care of all your chores, but at least I can help keep your Gift Buying organized!

Just click the image and download to your desktop, print and be organized.
(please note that this image is for personal use only,  not for resale but feel free to share this post with your friends!)
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