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

Johanna Basford | April 19, 2013
Johanna’s sabbatical has been going so well that when it was time for her to fail, it came in waves.

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.

If you've missed any of the previous entries, you can find all of them here.

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:

Admitting my sabbatical plans were completely unrealistic.Blooming cuckoos won't pop out the cuckoo clocks!Missing animals in Wonderbeasts.Printing wallpaper by hand morphing into a beast of a task and being rubbish at maths: miscalculating the amount of said wallpaper required.Learning that laser cut fabric frays.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:

My primary focus is now the exhibition, reading can wait.I have a new cuckoo clock concept (that's better than the original)Wonderbeasts is now overpopulated instead of underI rounded the most wonderful team of print studio helpers, one of whom has borderline OCD and a head for maths (thanks Karen!)Binned fabric for paperPut 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.


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