2011 was a massive exercise in self-restraint. As I mentioned in last year's retrospective, I had some significant injuries to recover from, and though I'm still a way from 100%, every month I find myself doing things that I wouldn't have been able to do the month before.
It's long been a dream of mine to be a freelance photographer, so in the interests of pursuing that, I set myself the task of cataloguing my 50,000 image photo library as something I could do part-time as I recovered. When I finished, I put some of my better shots on a print-on-demand service called RedBubble, and now some people (but not many people) around the world have my photos hanging on their wall. Amazing!
As I grew confidence in my ability to Get Stuff Done, I set myself up with jbushproductions.com where I offer commissioned photography, graphic design and programming services. Things are slow, but I've got some exciting projects on the go, and I don't think anybody can really ask for more than that at this stage.
I've also started getting back into the Neverball development community (Neverball is an Open Source game that I've contributed to), which is nice. The hiatus I took in 2008 lasted a lot longer than I ever intended or wanted, and it's great to be contributing again. In 2011, I committed a couple of new bonus balls and did a bit of brainstorming/concept art for some new features we're looking at implementing.
I mentioned last year that I was getting a bit fat. I'm told I've shed some weight. No idea how much, but I'm noticing it, so it must be a bit.
What a year for the site! 2011 saw traffic increases beyond anything we were expecting (with our top month, April, bringing in something crazy like 60,000 visitors! Madness!). Most of this was fueled by fan art and events including mim and I winning first place in art competitions at AICon, our Portal fan-art-a-thon in the leadup to Portal 2's release, our 12 Days Of Portal song and video, our Jurassic Park fan art, having a stall at Software Freedom Day, and that sort of stuff.
We also attempted to get some t-shirt designs up and happening via Threadless, but when that fell through, we started to investigate other options and eventually settled on making twolofbees.com stuff available via my RedBubble store (you'll notice that there's a "shop" tab now - if that excites you, keep your eye out, we'll be giving away some vouchers in the next few days).
Towards the end of the year, we had some website difficulties and wound up moving to a new host (which ultimately turned out to be a good thing).
Oh, and we were sent some fan art! How exciting is that? We're still feeling very touched.
Somehow (don't ask me how), I started interviewing people last year. Initially it started as a curiosity thing - I asked VoiDeD, a developer of a project called Vapor that I was interested in whether he'd be willing to answer some questions. They answered a bunch and I decided it might be nice to publish them for others to read. I put up a small page called "Cheese talks to VoiDeD", and so cheesetalks was born.
Shortly afterward I got in touch with a fellow working on the Linux launch of a game distribution platform called Desura, who did an interview with me and helped get me beta access for their then-unreleased Linux client, which I reviewed.
On the tail of that, I received beta access to the sequel to a game called Trine (which I have a review up for), and tentatively lined up an interview with the developers to talk about the upcoming the Linux version of Trine 2.
I also put together an automated statistics aggregator and visualiser for the Humble Bundle promotions which I'm calling the Humble Visualisations (which is showing some fascinating stuff and has gotten some good responses). I tried to line up an interview with the Humble Bundle guys, but they're pretty busy at the moment and our availability hasn't really overlapped.
In the works, I also have an interview with the primary developer of Neverball (about the history of the project and how it feels to have a community holding the reins now), a review of Trine 2 (which is in final draft stage) an analysis of performance of Humble Bundle promotions over time (peppered with thoughts and comments from top Humble Bundle contributors), and a couple of other exciting bits and pieces.
Artwork has been crazy this year. Between pumping out fan art (I did one piece of Portal fan art a day for nearly a month!), working like mad on stuff for competitions and polishing up existing artwork to make them ready for our online shop thingy, I've moved well beyond a lot of the stuff I did last year. It's been great and exciting, but it has meant that I haven't had as much time for sketching or doodling as I'd have liked.
So far as stuff I'm proud of goes, Continue Testing..., Little Parasaurolophus, Dinosaur Dreams and You Will Learn To Like Cake are probably highest on my list. They all represent moving in new directions for me, and I really like dinosaurs.
It's been great to do some stuff in Blender again as well. I've been spending a lot of time with it lately and I feel like I've more than caught up to where I was when I used to regularly do 3D work.
I also dedicated a piece of artwork to the public domain for the first time. That's kind of exciting as well :D
With me focusing on other things and getting existing art ready for prints and cards and stickers and things (which mim has helped with as well!), mim has really shouldered the burden of Creating All The New Stuff. Currently on the site, we have 285 drawings, scribbles and finished things done by mim in 2011 (plus a bunch that we've scanned but haven't gotten around to uploading). Astounding!
Mim has done her own look at 2011, which is a lot shorter and therefore more pleasant than mine, so go check it out.
Looking forward to 2012, I'm hoping to find more time for artwork - we've pretty much made ready all of the older designs that we're going to make available unless we get a specific request, so that frees me up a bit. Obviously we'll have new stuff going up every now and again, but now that we have a good range of stuff up, the pressure is off.
On the horizon, that princess and prince project is still high on our todo list, we have some little songs that we'd like to put animations to, and I'm definitely planning to give the Gumpy Bunny and Loftopus some love. Oh, and I'm working on some Trine fan art (which is hard because that game is so beautiful and has such a high visual standard that I either have to produce some very good stuff, or make it look like I've done work that intentionally looks bad).
There's a "kinetic typography" idea that I want to explore over the next couple of months, which should be neat too.
We're also going to be holding a twolofbees.com stall at AICon this year (zomg!) where we'll be selling some of our shirts, stickers, cards and prints.
Last year I talked about some of the updates I had planned for the site. Of that list, the things I didn't manage to get done were a way to showcase/switch banners, ajax driven sorting, and text based search. I think that's about half, so what's left is my todo list for 2012. Yay.
And we're still hoping to replace our kettle sometime soon!
Here are some of my favourites from the last 12 months in no particular order: