2020, here I come!

I've never really focused on new year's resolutions, they always seemed like a bit of a cop-out for those who didn't try hard enough to reach their goals throughout the year. Well, towards the end of 2019 I found myself struggling to maintain my minimum requirements for functionality, fulfilment and happiness. It happens. And for some reason or another, I was continually counting down until the end of the year... "just 3 more weeks, just 2 more weeks, just one... hang in there" Like the beginning of 2020 would somehow fix all of my problems.

As it turns out, the dawning of a new year, and a new decade, prompted me to look at my life and get it back to where I wanted it to be. Arbitrary as it may seem, the promise of 2020 really helped me pull my shit together during a time where my shit was catastrophically not-together. So, I made some big life decisions that are designed to move me further towards my ideal life! They're big, they're scary, they're risky some would say - but as soon as I decided that this was the direction I wanted to go, it felt so right.

Firstly, I've resigned from Cork and Canvas!

After 3 years and 5 months as a painting instructor with Cork and Canvas, I made the difficult decision to resign. Have you ever had that feeling when you're in a job that you enjoy, but you can feel something else calling you? Well, late last year I was offered a new position within the company that catered to my interests and skillsets. Most people would be thrilled about this and immediately accept. For some reason, a promotion made me really question where I want my life to go. I've learnt so much from my time there and met so many amazing people along the way. But, am I going to spend another year working towards someone else's dream? Or am I going to work towards my own dream?

The answer became abundantly clear to me. I could keep this job and work hard and get paid, and do my side hustle as I've always done. Or, I can quit right now and throw myself in headfirst to what I want to do every single day. Is it risky?

Yes. I could fail.

I could run out of money. I could end up unemployed, broke and no closer to achieving my dreams...

But I won't give up. I know it's corny, but giving up truly is the only way to fail.

And, my Redbubble Residency is ending!

I decided to line up the conclusion of my Redbubble residency with the conclusion of my time at Cork and Canvas. Both will finish up in February so that on March 1st my new life will officially begin. Now, you may wonder why I wouldn't just keep my job for a couple of days a week and do my art the rest of the time? Good question. This is what I've always done. And the answer is focus and commitment. As long as you have a back-up plan or another job, your focus is split. And I can see that this split focus is holding me back from what I could accomplish.

I've learnt so much during my Redbubble Residency. It's given me so much confidence and direction in where I want to take my art business. The clarity I've gained from the residency is essentially what has allowed me to quit my job and formulate a solid road map for my future endeavours. I will never forget this residency experience as a turning point in my life!

So, I've joined Pink Ember Studio!

As you know, my usual studio space at home has been empty for the last 6 months whilst I've taken up residency in the Redbubbe head office. Being surrounded by people all day rather than at home alone (with Clayton) has been a huge learning experience. And guess what? Turns out I flourish in an environment with people. What a surprise! Plus, not seeing Clayton all day every day has been beneficial for both of us (he calls me a distraction) which has been great for our relationship. Turns out - distance does make the heart grow fonder!

And so, as my residency ends I've decided I won't be settling back into my home studio. The contract is signed and the floor has been vacuumed - I am officially a member of Pink Ember Studio in Coburg! An artist collective housing about 14 artists in a communal studio space, plus a shopfront full of artistic wares, Pink Ember felt like the perfect fit for me. I'll be able to stock my goodies in their retail space as well as utilise the workshop program they have there. I've adored teaching art for the last few years and can't really see myself giving it up entirely. I'm planning to run longer painting courses in small groups so that I can really get to know my students and help them develop throughout their artistic journey.

With some Skillshare class on the way!

Remember my little home studio? Well, I've transformed it into a set to film my own online classes. If you're not familiar with Skillshare, then you're really missing out. Skillshare is a huge online classroom for just about anything and everything you want to learn. People from all over the world record lessons, upload them to Skillshare and get paid to share their knowledge. As a student, you pay a small monthly fee to have unlimited access to each and every class on there. It's pretty amazing. So, with a bit of encouragement from Clayton (who's had quite a bit of success in the online-learning-resource-business), I'm currently developing a series of Skillshare classes to share my experiences and knowledge with others.

What does this mean? Well, if you've ever wondered how I paint a galaxy, you'll be able to learn that. If you've ever wondered how I blend so seamlessly with acrylics, you'll be able to learn that. If you'd love to know how I create digital compositions for painting reference, I'll be able to teach you. The best part is that once I've put in all the hard work to create the video class, it'll turn into an income stream on a monthly basis with little maintenance from me. Huzzah!

But, I'm also running creativity & wellness retreats!

Because I'm a glutton for having too many ideas on the go at once, I'm also currently organising a bunch of retreats. Retreats? Why retreats? Well, for the last couple of years I've been organising a monthly artist meetup. Every single month we get together and relax, chat, make art, and eat. Sometimes it's the same faces every month, sometimes there are new faces. Bringing people together with similar values and goals to me is something I find very rewarding.

Plus, I really love organising holidays. So the natural progression to utilise my skills and nourish my interests was to pack our bags and take everyone away for a retreat! The first retreat is running from the 24th - 27th January 2020 and I'm SO excited! We're heading out to a lovely location atop a hill looking out on rolling meadows out near Meredith. With an itinerary full of workshops, including oil painting, life drawing, yoga, goal setting and more. Because I'm not only really passionate about art, I'm really passionate about wellbeing. And the two simply go hand in hand for me.

Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled, I'm already organising the next retreat which is sure to be even bigger and better!

So, am I crazy?

For those of you whose goal is to simply have a steady full-time job that you don't hate, live it up on the weekend, and retire comfortably - my actions will probably make no sense to you whatsoever. And that's okay. The main values for me that drove these big changes are freedom, independence, self-expression, connection, wellbeing, and balance. Which are certainly not the driving factors in everyone's life. Not only will I be ditching working for anyone else, but I'll also be ditching the lifestyle that goes along with being overworked.

My bike is in for a service as we speak - no more long drives to work and no more tedious train rides into the city. I'll be riding my bike to and from Pink Ember Studio most days, and recording my Skillshare classes from home a couple of times a fortnight. It is my hope that my new schedule will allow for plenty of time to go to the gym, do my groceries, cook healthy food, meditate, relax, and catch up with friends and family. It all sounds very simple - but the way my life has been organised over the last 6 months has been air-tight and frankly suffocating for me.

Now you know my big news!

Hopefully, even if these are not the lifestyle choices you would make, you can see that this is the right move for Erika. I'm so excited, so happy and so ready for this next chapter in my life. Your support, encouragement and interest in my art is always a huge help for me. So thank you! I'm glad you're along for the ride.

As I'm planning to now make a living solely from my art and art-related endeavours, I will appreciate your support more than ever! Please take a moment to have a look at the prints and original paintings I have available for purchase. Thanks!

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