Happy birthday, McKean Studio! We're 4!
Happy birthday to US! I can't believe it, but somehow we've ticked over 4 years of our little business and goodness gracious, it's been another one for the books. So many projects and experiences and figuring out a lot of things on the fly; but all in all a great year with lots of important lessons learned.
Since last August we've had lots of new designs come out, but the big ticket item of the last year was the release of my second kids book Hello, Melbourne! in October. The 2016 release of Hello, Sydney! was so well received that we followed it up quite quickly with Hello, Melbourne!, and were then very pleasantly surprised to have the new book be even more popular than the first! The first print edition was sold out before Christmas and my publishers had to organise an emergency print run of a second edition. Now here we are another 6 months down the road, and the books have both gone off for 3rd print AND will also be available for the first time in Chinese.
Having the opportunity to work on Hello, Melbourne! and to spend so much time in Melbourne, was such a delight (and any excuse to jump on a plane to head to the coffee capital of Australia is alright by me!) and I enjoyed lots of story-time readings in promotion of the book.
Alongside the Melbourne book, we released a range of items, like our enamel pins, a new City Bangle colour and a silk scarf. It was so fun to see all the pieces together as a mini-collection.
In October we hosted a book launch in McKean Studio HQ, and I think I'm still recovering from the balloon overload that this was! 3 days of pumping up hundreds of balloons and fixing them to the ceiling was an effort that I won't forget... but I think was worth it in the end. It was lovely to celebrate with friends and ring in the new title in style.
I had a great time creating the artwork and design for The Finders Keepers Spring/Summer season for 2017; any time I get to illustrate for different cities is a good project for me! I did all of the artwork for the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane events and it was such a thrill to see my illustrations in life-sized versions on the photo booth walls!
A whirlwind European Christmas trip in December was the perfect way to end a crazy year, and the best way to bring in some new inspiration for 2018. Berlin, Prague, Venice & Rome, and some chilly winter memories we'll treasure forever. This trip was also in part to celebrate Joshua's 30th birthday, and set some intentions together for our marriage in the years ahead. The year prior had been a very difficult one; despite great things happening in our professional lives there were some tough things to work through with our families. Taking stock of everything on a trip like this was the best way to let go of some past issues and concentrate on exciting new things ahead.
A busy month of work in January to make up for lost time in December, and then another quick trip to the USA in February. We work hard to holiday harder, ha! We were so fortunate to head back to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, and released a special collection of pieces especially to celebrate. Developing our connection to Palm Springs over the past several years has been so important for our brand and is a great reminder of a lot of the reasons behind what we make at McKean Studio. We came home to Sydney at the start of March, and Joshua started in a new role outside of McKean Studio — a great step for his career, but a bit of a new adjustment for how we run things in our business. The past 5 months have felt like finding our feet all over again, and thinking about what we want to be focussing on going forward, especially now that it's only me running things in the business. We're still figuring it all out, but it's been a good reminder to enjoy every season in life as nothing is forever.
I worked with the NGV on some sweet merchandise for kids in promotion of Hello, Melbourne! and finally got to see them all in real life in February. Tiny tshirts and a mini-tote bag, the cutest accompaniment to the book.
In April the biggest project I've worked on went up at the Museum of Brisbane, after what felt like the longest wait in the world! I completed all of the work for Bristopia in January, in a very condensed (stressful/exhilerating) 2 weeks before we nipped off to the USA. I wasn't kidding when I said we work hard to holiday hard — the week before we went was one of the most trying I'd ever experienced. All was forgotten by the time April rolled around though, and I was able to see some images and the animation of my work in the Bristopia exhibition. The exhibition runs at the Museum of Brisbane until October 2018, so if you're in Brisbane you've still got time to take a peek and build your own 'Bristopia'!
April and May were spent putting another big project to bed, finalising files for print and getting my next big release ready for the world. There's more on that coming very soon! I've been working on a brand new collection to release very soon, and getting ready to farewell some of our older pieces and retire some lines. Last year we stopped producing our items that were made of plastic and acrylic, and have tried to be more mindful of the decisions we make within the business to be doing things with intention and not producing for the sake of it. With the changes within our business stemming from Joshua's new role, we'll possibly be scaling back the production and manufacturing side of the business a little further, and concentrating on a more refined selection of items.
We spent a week in Japan in June (pastel, kawaii heaven!) and it was so much fun, but I came away completely horrified at the amount of waste created in Japan, especially the amount of single use plastic. It was a good reminder that we're all responsible for doing our bit, and it's been a good shakeup for me in thinking about producing items a little 'slower' at McKean Studio. There are still new pieces on the way as I mentioned above, so we're certainly not shutting up shop, but just readjusting as we go to be doing the best we can with what we choose to create.
Phew! What a year. I'm always a little gobsmacked when I look back on a 12 month block and see everything that was accomplished. From May in 2017 I also went full time in our business, so being self-employed for the whole year (and surviving!) has been my biggest accomplishment of all. It's such a privilege to be able to create for a living, and I'm so thankful to every supporter out there of our little business, cheering me on and believing in what we're making.
Happy 4th birthday, McKean Studio!