Setting Goals and Finding Clarity in Your Picture Book Illustration Journey

As 2023 draws to a close, many of us find ourselves at a crossroads, reflecting on the creative journey we’ve taken thus far and looking ahead to the new year. It’s a time of introspection, a moment to evaluate what worked, what didn't, and how to steer your ship in the right direction.

This blog is your guide to navigating your picture book illustration journey. We’ll look at self-discovery, goal setting, and finding clarity in your artistic pursuits. As you read on, you’ll discover practical ideas to help transform your creative vision into a well-defined path for 2024.

Reflection: The Art of Looking Back

Before we start looking into the future, we must pause and reflect on the past. Looking back at the year gone by can be an eye-opening exercise, providing insights that will shape your path ahead. Here’s how to make the most of this process:

  • Celebrate Achievements: Start by celebrating your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Did you complete a challenging project, receive positive feedback, or take a significant step in your artistic journey? Recognizing these wins can boost your confidence and motivation.
  • Learn from Setbacks: It’s equally important to acknowledge your setbacks and perceived failures. Consider them not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones. What did you learn from these experiences, and how can you turn them into opportunities for growth?
  • Assess Your Skills: Take an inventory of your skills and strengths. What are you exceptionally good at, and where do you see room for improvement? Identifying your areas of expertise and growth can help you set more realistic goals.
  • Review Your Projects: Analyze the projects you worked on. Which ones did you enjoy, and which felt like chores? This reflection can guide you toward projects that align with your artistic vision.

Goal Setting: Charting Your Creative Course

With insights from your reflective journey, you’re now better equipped to set your artistic goals for 2024. Remember that effective goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s how to craft them:

  • Specific: Define your goals with precision. Instead of a vague goal like “improve my art,” set a specific target, such as “learn watercolor painting techniques to enhance my illustrations.”
  • Measurable: Ensure you can track your progress. Use concrete metrics or milestones. For example, “complete two picture book projects” is more measurable than “work on many picture book projects.”
  • Achievable: Be realistic about your goals. Stretching yourself is good, but setting goals that are too far-fetched can lead to frustration. Consider your available resources and time.
  • Relevant: Align your goals with your artistic vision and values. A goal should resonate with your aspirations and be meaningful to you.
  • Time-bound: Set deadlines for your goals. Having a clear timeframe creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay accountable.

Clarity: The North Star of Creativity

The path to a successful year in children’s picture book illustration starts with clarity. Once you have defined your goals, it’s crucial to maintain a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Here are some ideas on how to keep your creative path well-lit:

  • Create a Vision Board: Visualize your goals by creating a vision board. Collect images, words, and visuals that represent your aspirations. Place this board where you can see it daily, reinforcing your goals in your mind.
  • Develop a Clear Plan: Set a course of action. Outline the steps needed to reach your goals. Having a well-structured plan minimizes overwhelm and makes your goals more manageable.
  • Embrace Prioritization: Not all goals are of equal importance. Identify your top priorities, and focus on these first. Setting clear priorities reduces distractions and helps you stay on track.
  • Seek Feedback and Support: Share your goals with trusted friends, mentors, or fellow illustrators. Their feedback can provide valuable insights and hold you accountable.
  • Stay Adaptable: While having a clear vision is crucial, it’s essential to remain flexible. Be open to adjusting your goals as circumstances evolve or new opportunities arise.

Take Action: Turning Goals into Reality

Setting goals and finding clarity are essential first steps, but the journey isn’t complete without action. Your goals won’t achieve themselves. Here’s how to bridge the gap between intention and realization:

Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins with yourself to assess your progress. This helps you stay focused and make necessary adjustments.

Stay Accountable: Share your goals with someone who can hold you accountable. You're more likely to take action when someone else is aware of your commitments.

Break It Down: Large goals can be daunting. Break them into smaller, manageable tasks. Completing these smaller steps can be motivating and boost your confidence.

Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, even the small ones. This reinforcement can boost your motivation and remind you of how far you've come.

Stay Inspired: Surround yourself with inspiration. Visit museums, read books, attend art exhibitions, or connect with fellow illustrators to stay inspired throughout your creative journey. Remember, inspiration is a driving force that can help you overcome challenges and keep your creative flame burning.

As we wrap up this blog and the year 2023, I want to extend my heartfelt wishes to each of you. May this holiday season bring warmth, joy, and the opportunity to reflect on your creative path. As we welcome 2024, may it be a year filled with artistic growth, the fulfillment of your creative goals, and the realization of your dreams.

Thank you for being a part of this creative community, and I look forward to sharing another year of artistic exploration with all of you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Nina 🌟

PS – Join me on Instagram! I'll meet you there. I’m so excited to get to know you! 
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PBIC Live: Join the waiting list for Nina’s 8-week Picture Book Illustration e-Course, commencing on February 2, 2024. By the end of the 8-week program, you will emerge with a well-rounded skillset, a community of like-minded illustrators, and the confidence to pursue a thriving career as a children’s picture book illustrator.

Join the Treehouse Membership Waitlist: If you know you have something special to offer the world of picture books and all you need is a supportive community and a guiding hand to help you bring your vision to life, make sure to join my Treehouse Membership waiting list. Doors will open again on April 1, 2024.


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