Year in Review: 2012

Like many, I’m taking a moment to put last year in perspective. Here are some condensed thoughts about my work and travels in 2012.

Travel

I’m going to start with travel, because it really puts the entire year in context.

Two and a half years ago my wife Amy and I moved to the Czech Republic. Knowing we were moving home towards the end of 2012, we went on a traveling rampage. You can read about some of our misadventures on hello-unknown.com, but unfortunately our blogging record this year was not quite as good as our travel itinerary.

A quick rundown: in 2012 we managed to explore the Czech Republic, Morocco, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and the UK. The culmination of our travels? We now have friends all over the world. That’s awesome.

Pictures of a German city, Prague, and a mosque in Morocco

I also learned a broad truth from our experience: Just go for it. We moved with no real idea what we were doing. We stayed positive, kept faith in God, and everything worked out.

It wasn’t exactly how we pictured it, nor was it picture perfect. But I think we’ve moved home inpsired to continue embracing the unknown. As long as you are open to changes of plans and new possibilities, you can’t really go wrong.

Work

I started an experiment with time tracking in 2012. As best I could, I tracked all my working time, regardless of whether it was a personal project or a client project. Looking back at the results has been eye opening.

A screenshot of time tracking reports

What would you say ya do here?

You are what you do, right? On the homepage of this website, I call myself an animator and illustrator. But the numbers tell a different story. Here’s how my time breaks down, according to my own tracking:

  • Web Design and Development: ~79%
  • Animation: 0%
  • Illustration: ~1%

Ha. And If you look at the breakdown from the tracking report, you’d see I spent more time with accounting than I did with illustration and animation combined! I’m more of an accountant than an illustrator.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. While I have to admit that I didn’t draw nearly as much as I’d planned, I can also say that most of my drawing time was outside of working hours and wasn’t tracked.

For instance, I took figure drawing classes over the summer in Prague, which ranks as one of the top 5 things I did in 2012. I’m quite proud of that experience, and I hope to find a similar outlet in Austin.

A watercolor painting of a man's head and a drawing of a woman's face

Even still, it’s clear that neither illustration nor animation is my current profession, and my website probably needs to reflect that. Do I gotta face the music on this one, or am I allowed to define myself by aspirations as much as reality? Perhaps 2013 will prove interesting in this regard…

Back to the numbers. Of my website work, roughly 31% of it was spent on design, while the rest was spent on HTML, CSS, or JS development. I had hoped to do more visual and ux work in 2012, but I don’t have the numbers to compare it to 2011. Hopefully this is the start of an upward trend.

Here are a few of my favorite projects from 2012:

  • Hello Unknown – Website re-design and WordPress development. Be sure to check out the ‘special editions’ which were a major milestone for Amy and me to launch before moving back to Austin.
  • ExSquared – Website re-design and front-end web development (HTML/CSS/JS).
  • Sir Toby’s Hostel – Video production for a marketing video. Amy and I tag teamed this one. I was involved in writing, storyboarding, shooting, and effects.
  • Life in our flat in Prague – Another Amy and Dennis team up. This video project appeared in the ‘home’ edition on Hello Unknown.

Looks like you’ve been missing a lot of work lately.

More fun numbers: assuming 3 weeks of vacation, I only worked an average of 26 hours per week in 2012. This is awesome for two reasons.

First, I really did take play seriously while we were living in Prague. We wanted to have time to experience as much culture and fun as possible while living overseas, and it looks like I didn’t overwork. It definitely didn’t feel that way at times, but I’m glad to see the numbers back me up.

Second, as busy as last year felt, I have plenty of room in my schedule for more. This means that a couple of the side projects I’ve been putting off get the green light. I hope to bring the hours for ‘billable’ (aka: client) and ‘unbillable’ (aka: personal) projects in my time tracking report to equal numbers by the end of 2013. Sieze the day get things done and huzzah and all that!

Looking Forward

I wish I could go into more detail about the highs and lows of 2012, but this would be way too long a post. Later this week year I’ll be writing about my plans and goals for 2013, as well as some things I’m changing about my creative/work life as a result of the discoveries I made looking back at 2012.

Cheers to a great year past and a great year to come!