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  • Writer's pictureElyse Maxwell

2020 In Review

Less than 30 hours from now 2020 will come to a close. It's been a year unlike any other — delayed plans, disappointments, and uncertainly. I don't think it was a "good" year for anyone, but that doesn't mean it didn't hold some good.

I'm choosing to spend tonight looking back on some of the wins.

Art Challenges

This year I managed to complete 2 month-long art challenges. By Bun's April Art Challenge in the spring, and Furry Little Peach's Peachtober in the autumn.

Art challenges are difficult. They take commitment, planning and the ability to push through when things get tough. I've failed more than my fair share of them in the past. Although most of the pieces I created were just OK, they resulted in a few of my favourite pieces this year, and they kept me creating.


Anyone who knows me can tell you I'm a lifelong student. I may not have a masters degree, but I'm always signing up for one class or another. In person learning was out of the question for most of the year, so I turned my attention online.

MATS Assignment Bootcamp

Agent Lilla Rogers focuses on helping illustrators develop their careers through a series of courses known as Make Art that Sells. A few years ago I participated in the editorial illustration course, and this year I took on the Assignment Bootcamp; a series of assignments over a 4 month period.

It began in March, and I credit the structure provided by the course with helping me weather the uncertainty of spring. I met some great women, followed a bunch of inspiring instagram accounts, and produced some new work.

The Donut Tutorial

Anyone interested in 3D modelling has probably heard of The Donut Tutorial on Blender Guru's YouTube channel. This 23 part video series took me from being a clueless newbie, to a semi-competent beginner in Blender.

Since taking the course I've modelled more donuts, a glass cup, plates, a chocolate chip cookie, and a slice of cake. I also taught myself how to skin characters; assigning colours and details that "dress" the model.

I don't anticipate a career shift into the world of 3D animation, but it's a fun skill to have in my back pocket.

Indigenous Canada

This 12-week course offered by the University of Alberta on Coursera addresses the historical and contemporary issues faced by indigenous people of North America.

It has given me new context to consider the political, social, economic and environmental issues in the news, and has led to a lot of important conversations. I encourage everyone, especially those who benefit from the privilege of white settler culture in this continent to invest the time to complete this course.


I opened my shop in 2018, and as of the end of 2019 has only shipped 5 orders.

This year, largely due to the launch of an enamel pin, orders have grown by 900%, travelling all over North America and even to the UK and Germany.

Etsy isn't a big part of my plan, but it's been so much fun to connect with people, and know that something I made has brought some joy.


In mid-November, months after applying, I was approved for a GIPHY channel! This means I can upload animated GIFs to their platform, and access them for use in instagram stories!

I look forward to growing my collection of animated stickers, and hope they will help others express themselves in their stories.

Ready for 2021?

It may not seems like a lot, but even the few things listed above show me this past year was better than it seemed.

I wish you all the best in the challenging months ahead, and hope that you too can find some good from 2020.

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