2017 was a rough year for many people and mine was no exception. But I it was also a year I am extremely grateful for. Lots and lots of years of hard work paid off this year with some amazing successes. Here are my highlights from 2017:
I was the finalist in this year's D23 Design Challenge. I entered the competition in 2016 and was chosen as 1 of 23 finalists to be on display at the Disney D23 Expo. I spent a couple months putting together the largest paper sculpture I have ever made and travelled to Anaheim to see my work on display at the Disney D23 Expo with my dear friend and fellow designer, Anna Berry.
9. Traveled the Country
I was able to travel coast to coast this year. I am extremely grateful for having the financial means to do this and for the Busch Foundation Scholarship that sponsored my trip to the east coast. I went to Orlando to see the first Festival of the Arts at Epcot. I then went to Savannah, visited Hilton Head Beach, traveled to the Disney D23 Expo in California, and then headed to the other coast with a stop in Boston and visited Maine for the first time.
8. Received First-hand Inspiration
I got to meet some amazingly talented people in 2017. It is always so inspiring to speak with and listen to other creatives doing things I admire. I was lucky enough to meet Disney Fine Artists Dave Avanzino and Jerrod Maruyama, and I heard from one of my favorite female artists from Disney, Brittney Lee. I even got a quick selfie with the Disney Legend, Bob Gurr. I visited the Guillermo del Toro exhibit at the MIA, I talked graphic design and game design with Grant Wilson, and I got to hear from Gabrielle Union, a total feminist bad-ass. I even met Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh, the two design rock stars from Sagmeister Walsh. Then in October I had an entire week of inspiration overload at PopTech. I am so grateful for these experiences and having the access to these creative luminaries. Their influence helps me grow everyday as a creative.
7. A Thank You Note
I received a hand-signed thank you from the family of Marty Sklar after he passed. I was lucky enough to have once met the man and got to see him earlier in 2017 at the Disney D23 Expo. He was an idol of mine and I wish to follow in his footsteps. They will never know how much this card means to me. Marty was known for his handwritten cards, so it was truly touching to see the family carry on this legacy after he passed.
I enter design contests all the time to challenge myself and improve my skills as an artist. And I am so excited that I won my first design contest! I officially have designed merchandise now for the band KISS. How rockin' is that?
4. Accepted to Grad School
As long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of going to a fine arts school and of working as an Imagineer. This past summer I finally gathered up the nerve to apply to Savannah College of Art & Design for an M.F.A. in their Themed Entertainment Design Program and I got in! I am aiming for starting school full-time in the fall of 2018.
3. Inspired Others
In the past year I have witnessed how leading the way can instigate change. I have never been more honored then finding out that I was able to inspire real change in people and in systemic cultural norms surrounding women. Speaking with young girls in my hometown about my STEM-based career, seeing Iris Magazine launch, and taking part in the Women's March are the greatest honors of my life. I can only hope that 2018 brings more opportunity for me to make an impact in the lives of women.
2. Visited the Walt Disney Studios
I know it is more than a little nerdy, but visiting the Walt Disney Studios lot was a dream for me... almost a pilgrimage. We came after hours and the security guard was nice enough to grant us access to the lot. We ran around in and out of buildings seeing all the iconic spots like little kids on Christmas morning. It was almost a dream. I will never forget that day.
1. Created my Favorite Blog Post
This year I wrote a blog post featuring Women I Needed to See Growing Up and I featured 10 kick-ass women that I am so proud of. Uplifting these women and creating magazine covers featuring them is what I am most proud of in 2017.
I wish you all the best in 2018 and hope all the hard work you put in pays off!