State of the Fanet: Goodbye 2018

This Year Was Crazy

Hey everyone, Joe here! Sorry it’s been so long since I did one of these. This last State of the Fanet for the year is sort of a combination year-in-review and New Year’s resolution post. If you only want info about the future you can just head down to the last section, but thanks for being here regardless!

I am blown away by the amount of goodness and love and respect that I have around me these days. It’s just crazy that I’m here, at this moment in time and space, and I’d like to sort of… take you on a little journey of memories with me. I don’t think it’s possible for me to go into as much detail as I’d like for every little thing that happened this year; but what do you think, shall we go chronologically?

The First Half

…Was a sketchy, cacophonous mess of trying to figure out my new life; after getting divorced and deciding to focus on my mental and creative health I found out there were just a lot of things I had never learned to prepare for. I had spent years living a certain kind of life and even though changing that situation was my decision it was still a riveting one. That’s about all I want to share on that note, but suffice to say 2018 started rough and for a while there it only got more difficult.

A big step forward for me this year was choosing to start therapy. I’m fortunate enough to be in a situation where I can see a therapist at little to no cost to me and finally getting up the courage to schedule that first round of appointments was probably the most important achievement of my year. Because of that I have a better understanding of myself as a person with cyclothymia, and I’m better at communicating what I need to my friends and loved ones. If you’re someone who deals with irregular moods, or depression, or mania, I can’t recommend enough that you seek out help. I did and I’m infinitely better for it.

As far as creative stuff goes I released a little demo single, Pitfall Blanket, back on 04/20 and I still listen to it occasionally; I’m genuinely proud of how that turned out considering it was literally the first full song I’ve ever played, recorded, and produced by myself! After that I started playing more regularly, especially with one of my oldest friends, Alex, whom I would end up some production work for when he put out the first Black Fog album. After a few months of jamming and playing around with Ableton Live I realized I was missing a real “project”, something that I could keep coming back to every week to stay focused, and it wasn’t long before Plantastic Fanet Media was born. More on that later…

I also started improving my drawing skills, especially with ink. I discovered a love (read: masochistic obsession) for stippling and I spent a lot of time just exploring whatever themes I found interesting; weapons, comics, dungeons, random fantasy stuff. This stuff was still definitely on the back burner as I never really thought I was capable of making it a more rewarding hobby, but I’m happy to say that I surprised myself! Turns out if you enjoy putting time into something you can get pretty good at it.

The Part After That

I turned 28 in June and as the existential dread of being nearly 30 sunk in I realized it was time to organize and focus all of my creative energy so that I could fulfill that desire to leave a mark on the world after my inevitable destruction by the cold, dead hands of time. First on the list was PFM. Plantastic Fanet Media would be a production umbrella under which all of my media… stuff (I hate the word content) would go. After trying out a couple test episodes I realized I was ready to start putting out Like For Like, a podcast where we interview interesting people about what it’s like to be a creator in the world of social media, and I couldn’t have asked for better co-hosts in Jonathan and Alex. Seriously, we have entirely too much fun. The podcast is still morphing into something more solid and gaining it’s own identity but I hope to do some really compelling stuff with it in 2019.

While working on the podcast I started developing a more defined personal style in my visual art. Incorporating stippling and learning a lot from the friends I’d made in the real world and on Instagram, I started putting out a series of interconnected isometric maps called the #MEGADUNGEON. This was one of the dumbest project titles ever, and an example of why it’s often better to run your ideas by other people… but the maps turned out pretty cool and I’m still doing them! Another goal for 2019 is putting these out more consistently.

In addition to those maps, I did some Illustrations inspired by other creators, made some magic items, and started trying different things out as far as branding here. There’s still a lot to figure out as far as what I want to do with visual art going forward. Right now I know that I love working with ink and that I love talking with my followers about my work, so really whatever makes those two things happen more is what I want to do. I also started growing pretty quickly on Instagram around that time so I grabbed up accounts on all of the places (for both myself and Plantastic Fanet) and started posting occasionally on Twitter and Reddit. In 2019 I plan to streamline this stuff so you get a consistent Joe experience across the internet. Man that sounds pretentious.

The Last Bit

I spent most of my time toward the end of 2018 working on Like For Like and starting commissions, and I have to say I am absolutely loving that I get to do this stuff. At this point it feels like all of the work I’ve put into improving myself throughout the year is really tangibly paying off. It’s literally paying off in the case of commissions! Please pay me to make art for you?

In all seriousness, I found out how much work doing a weekly interview show can be. Even when you have ABSOLUTELY AMAZING GUESTS LIKE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE I MEAN COME ON, SERIOUSLY it can still be a challenge just making sure everything comes through on time, the interviews go well, and there aren’t any major audio issues. I’ve learned so much about editing and production as a result and I think season 2 is going to be even more polished and consistent. I also plan on reissuing the first season’s interviews knowing what I know now, mostly to get people interested who may only want to try out a podcasts for 15-20 minutes.

On the commissions thing I’ve done a few pieces that I’m super proud of and that I actually made like… real money for. Not Monopoly bucks or fantasy internet points! That still blows my mind. I also did Inktober which was hugely fun; I was supposed to scan all of the sketchcards I did and make a downloadable that you could all buy, but I wasn’t really pleased with the final product so there may be some more work on that to come. I’d also like to do more little sketchcards like that for people and hopefully I’ll be able to do some giveaways for similar pieces in 2019.

Lastly, I’ve been working on some writing! Over the last few years I’ve done quite a lot of expository and narrative writing that will never see the light of day, mostly for use in my DnD campaigns, and I’ve decided to put those skills to use in the form of a DMs Guild release called Borhedille’s Book of Belongings, Volume One: Weapons. It’s basically a really simple system for Dungeon Masters to generate unique items. I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed working on something this rigidly DnD-related, so I truly hope those of you that enjoy that kind of thing will go check it out and give it a download once it comes out. I haven’t decided what Volume Two will be yet (I’m thinking armor and clothing?) but I’ll be starting on it soon! If you’re interested in helping out you can get in touch HERE.

Thank You, Next

Don’t judge me. You know you would have made the same joke if you were writing this right now. Anyways, 2019 is officially here and it’s time to bundle all of my utterly high expectations for myself into one easy-to-review list, so here goes:

First off, Like For Like is going biweekly for a bit. It won’t be long before we return to weekly episodes but Alex, Jonathan, and I each have a busy year ahead and I don’t want the quality to drop. So we’re focusing on bringing you the best episodes possible, rather than the most. Next up is visual art! I’ll be posting regularly still, but not every day like I have been. I’ve reached that sub-1000-follower zone on Instagram where there just isn’t much benefit to posting that often. More importantly I want to focus on improving my (currently lacking) fundamentals so that I can take on more complex commissions and make more pieces that speak to me personally. Obviously this means commissions are OPEN, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Those are the two things most of you are probably reading this for, but for those interested I’ve got a couple more projects coming in 2019. I’d like to release a self-produced EP. I’ve been putting out some short tracks here and there but I think it’s time that I finish at least a few songs, so I’m giving myself until the end of April to finish tracking and mixing that. Production might take that album into May but we’ll see! The other big thing is a Patreon. I realized after finishing Borhedille’s Book of Belongings that I was really missing making DnD content, so I’d like to start up a page where people can chip in a dollar or so each month for some d100 tables or PDFs of setting info. This would also give me a chance to work on my campaign setting, Voidcalling, some more. I’m absolutely in love with worldbuilding and I think that would be a really fulfilling project for the rest of the year after I finish the EP.

That… is a lot. I know this has been a superbly long-winded post, but I find when I put stuff in writing and post it on the internet I generally get that stuff done (just forget I ever mentioned Subculture Camp). Here’s to working my ass off in this next year! If you’re excited about any of this stuff I’d truly appreciate you sharing any of my work with a friend; the more people aware of a project, the higher the success rate, and every share really helps. I absolutely depend on the love and support of all of you amazing people out there and I would not be the happy, grounded, and usually stable man I am today without you.

I’d like to get back to monthly SotF posts (possibly in video form) this year because it helps to keep me focused, so you should be hearing more from me here. If you’re not already following me, first off I don’t know how you got here, but you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more frequent updates. If you’re not already listening to Like For Like please go subscribe at one of THESE places; I’m so freaking proud of it. And last but not least, thank you! I hope you have a spectacular 2019 and I’m looking forward to every laugh, cry, and moment of drunken confusion that we’ll spend together this year.

Love you all,

- Joe