Tuesday, 1 March 2016

challenge success story: Tania McCartney

image by Penny Fisher

When I first conceived of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge in December 2013, I had absolutely no idea it would morph into the community it has today.

For me, probably the greatest ‘successes’ I’ve achieved since the Challenge began on 1 January 2014, has been the deep friendships I’ve developed, the group's divine sense of community, and the overwhelming satisfaction of watching so many members achieve so very much.

And when I say achieve, I mean anything and everything from changing jobs, starting a business and having books published, to finally following their calling, healing relationships and changing their life’s direction. Like, completely.

All this has brought me much personal joy and has changed my world in ways too numerous to mention. I would definitely call that a success!

As for the direct opportunities and dream realisations that have arisen since the Challenge began, again—where do I begin?? Here are just a few:

My First Exhibition
52 Challenge members, including myself, exhibited for Arts Brookfield in Perth in March 2015. Arts Brookfield is one of the world’s largest public exhibitors of art, and I have long-admired their world standing. To have our work exhibit for three weeks at Brookfield Place was a phenomenal experience—and curating the works with Challenge Director Nicky Johnston was also a career highlight. Image above is my exhibited piece.

Print Appearances
Again, along with other Challenge members, it’s been such a pleasure to have my work featured online and in several magazines, including Tickle the Imagination magazine. This has definitely upped my profile in terms of accessing an entirely new demographic that my writing/books may not have secured. Image above of my cocoon girl.

A Picture Book Collaboration
Last year, I put the call out on the Challenge Wall, offering the opportunity to illustrate one of my books. We had many wonderful entries, and Jess Racklyeft won this opportunity. Our book, Smile Cry, is out this March in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand, and this April in Australia. Working with a Challenge member, and now dear friend, was the most glorious experience and I am so in love with this book!

This will not be the first picture book collaboration I'll enjoy via the Challenge.

Picture above is Jess's original entry in the picture book call-out--an illustration she aligned with a sentence from my book text. Below is the cover/s of the book (it has two stories that meet in the middle!).

My First Grant
The Challenge is directly responsible for my very first grant, thanks to the ACT Government’s ArtsACT programme. I was awarded $12,000 to work on my illustrated book, which meant I could focus most of my time on the book, and be able to put in the many hours I would need to complete it.

New Genres
Since posting my illustration works consistently online, I’ve been approached by other publishers—one of them interested in publishing a new genre of children’s book I’d like to work in. This would not have happened without the Challenge, and I hope to sign for this amazing opportunity soon.

And the biggest 'success' of all ...

First Self-Illustrated Book
The Challenge and its supportive environment was fertile ground for re-igniting my long-lost love of illustration (something I enjoyed prolifically as a teen and young adult). Weekly prompts and the lessons I learned from Challenge members, and the saturation of constant creativity and inspiration, was enough to develop my skills quite rapidly.

As you can see from the image below--2014's Week 1: EGGS, I had certainly lost my mojo.

As the Challenge went on, my style started to emerge and improve:

Within 18 months of commencing the Challenge, and dedicating myself to re-honing my craft, one of my publishers contracted me for my first illustrated book—a 96 page children’s picture book on Australia. The book is out November 2016. To say this is a life dream realised is an absolute understatement. I am beyond ecstatic (and terribly nervous!). This would never have happened without the Challenge.

There are many more indirect opportunities and successes that have come from The Challenge. And I know there will be many more. It just goes to show that when like-minded people come together in the spirit of creativity, anything—truly anything—can happen.

You can follow Tania online:

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