Johanna Basford's sabbatical diary, weeks 13-15: How to deal with epic fails

Johanna’s sabbatical has been going so well that when it was time for her to fail, it came in waves.

Johanna Basford is on a four-month sabbatical from paid work to concentrate on making herself a better artist, illustrator and all-round creative person.

Every week Johanna aims to publish a diary entry, which we'll be running on Digital Arts so you can follow the ups and downs – hopefully mainly ups – as she pushes her creativity and vision into new areas.

Weeks 13-15

I love it when a plan comes together – but occasionally you miss the mark and a little rejigging is required.

The last three weeks have been all about the rejigging. I’m a big believer in aiming high – average is not aspirational. The problem with this is that sometimes reality bites: budgets, time constraints, logistics, fundamental limitations of the human body – all these things can scupper your lofty ambitions.

But instead of sitting back and declaring the venture a disaster,  I think we’re better to practice the art of the re-jig: alter your plan, shift the parameters and make the best from the new situation.

Don’t be hasty in dishing out the #EpicFails. Always be optimistic and flexible.

Just to illustrate my point, here’s a snippet of the last three weeks’ mini catastrophes:

  1. Admitting my sabbatical plans were completely unrealistic.
  2. Blooming cuckoos won’t pop out the cuckoo clocks!
  3. Missing animals in Wonderbeasts.
  4. Printing wallpaper by hand morphing into a beast of a task and being rubbish at maths: miscalculating the amount of said wallpaper required.
  5. Learning that laser cut fabric frays.
  6. Studio Pup shredding everything he can reach.

No-one likes a moaner, in real life or on Twitter. So I think it best not to dwell on the hiccups in our plans, and focus on the good bits. However I wanted to be honest and share the lows as well as the highs: reality isn’t all cute studio pups, appearances in Vogue (below)and inky bliss…

I’ve spent 21 days furiously rethinking, adjusting and reworking – which is why this diary entry is so late. This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. My primary focus is now the exhibition, reading can wait.
  2. I have a new cuckoo clock concept (that’s better than the original)
  3. Wonderbeasts is now overpopulated instead of under
  4. I rounded the most wonderful team of print studio helpers, one of whom has borderline OCD and a head for maths (thanks Karen!)
  5. Binned fabric for paper
  6. Put things up higher, did a little redrawing…

Things may not be panning out exactly how I had planned – but they so rarely do. I figure there’s no point beating myself up about it – just work out the new way forward, and go at it full power.

Bonus Studio Pup Pic (post shredding snooze)

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