My 2016 Review

My 2016 Review
Written by Magoz
6 min read 9.7k views 23 comments

Every year, during the last days of December, I love going through the whole year and review what happened.

I sit down, away from distractions, and I focus on what happened in the last 12 months. I check my calendar, project folders and emails to help me to get the big picture. I write down a list of the highlights and I usually get surprised about how many things happened.

This year I’ve decided to split the highlights into two lists, one with what went well and another one including what didn’t.

Things that went well in 2016

  • I created a lot of illustrations
    This year I worked more than ever, I created more than 100 illustrations.
  • I successfully switched to Illustrator
    I no longer use Photoshop to illustrate. I had to switch to Illustrator and find a new workflow because animations require vector graphics. As a consequence, I abandoned my Wacom Cintiq 13HD and now I use an iPad Pro for the sketches and a Logitech MX Master for the finals. Now my current setup provides me more flexibility and it’s lighter. I couldn’t be happier about it.
  • I produced a lot of animations
    I created a lot of animations with Jose. We created a lot of short gifs but also 30-second animations including music and audio. One of the animations was broadcasted on TV.
  • I received several awards
    I received 6 awards including the International Motion Art Awards and 2 bronze Laus. I’m very grateful for all the recognition, especially because most of them were awarded to the animations we created.
  • I kept giving talks
    I gave several talks, the most important one was for Adobe and it was also the first time I streamed something online.
  • I kept blogging
    I love writing this blog. This year I’ve been more or less consistent writing every week and I created different kind of content. Including videos for the serie Behind the Scenes, sharing tools, my Asian adventure and much more. I have big plans for the Blog in 2017.
  • I released the Toolkit and the Resources Page
    I started to share the tools and resources I use with the Toolkit and the Resources Page. Since I launched both in October, more than 1000 people have downloaded the Toolkit and the Resources Page has been visited more than 1500 times.
  • I visited New York, Dubai and I moved to Helsinki
    I travelled to New York in February to receive the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators. I always wanted to visit New York, and I’m definitely going back.
    I also went to Dubai to the ING Creative Festival in May. It was my first time in the Middle East. I also had many trips to Barcelona-Madrid, and I finally moved from Madrid to Helsinki.
  • I’ve been healthy
    Once again, another year without being sick.

Things that didn’t go well in 2016

  • I felt busy and overwhelmed
    At the end of the year I had too much work that I lost control of my routines and habits. I also felt overwhelmed and I didn’t have time to enjoy my projects and free time.
  • I didn’t have enough time for my personal projects
    I started working on Illustrators Essentials, an online course for illustrators, but it’s not ready yet. I underestimated the magnitude of the project.
  • I didn’t travel as much as I wanted
    Even I visited New York, Dubai and moved to Helsinki, I miss travelling as a nomadic illustrator. I wanted to visit East Europe but I was so busy that I had to cancel the plan.
  • I didn’t exercise
    This year has been very bad regarding exercise and activity. I spent most of my time sitting and working.
  • I didn’t read as much as I wanted I read several books that I liked very much. For example, the Mysterious Island by Jules Verne or Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison by James Riordan. But reading 5 books a year is very far from what I wanted.


As opposed to 2015, in 2016 I’ve been very focused on working. I’ve created a lot of illustrations but animations definitely got a lot of relevance in my work. I’m going to dedicate more time, efforts and resources to create animations in 2017. Jose and I have big plans together!

Because of that intense focus on working, I felt stressed and overwhelmed, and I even lost control of my routines and habits at some point. I started a couple of very interesting projects but I couldn’t find enough time to work on them properly.

For 2017 I’m definitely going to work on finding the balance between assignments and personal projects. Illustrators Essentials and developing self-initiated animations are going to be my priorities.

For 2017 I also need to create new routines for exercising, and other activities like reading and travelling.

• • •

Looking back and realising how the year has been makes me feel very grateful.
2017 is a new opportunity to improve those things that didn’t go so well and focus on new goals and objectives.

How was your year?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!


Nomadic illustrator. Thinker. Seeker.


  1. I feel the same about many things from your list.
    I also like to go through the year i had, and mark what was good and what wasnt. Another thing i like to do is to set new goals for myself for the next year.
    Happy new year!

    • Brilliant, Dvir! For me, this review is one of the best ways to end the year.
      I also set new goals for the next year (I’m going to write a new article next week about it). How do you do it?

      I wish you all the best for 2017!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this man, I’m going to try the excercise too

  3. A really inspiring read man!

    It’s been a good year for work for me but I think I’ve become a lot more introverted because of it (not spending enough time away from the desk). I think I need to up the socialising game in 2017…

    How do you find it (socialising as a freelancer)?

    • Thank you, Tommy! It’s my pleasure to have you here!
      That’s very similar to what happened to me. I worked a lot, and my personal life suffered. Let’s fix that in 2017!

      In the past, I was an introvert too, but since I started travelling I got used to talking to strangers and meeting new people, and I no longer feel shy or nervous about it.
      I think the key is to force ourselves to go out of our comfort zone and meet people to compensate the time we spend in solitude. Travelling is one of the best ways I know to do it.

  4. Congrats for all your successes in 2016!
    Thanks for sharing your accomplishments, you had a very productive year! I’ve also been struggling with overwhelming and lack of free time, specially when you’re making a living from your passion, one of my plans for 2017 is to improve how I manage my time, resting and free time are as much important as working.

    • Thanks, Joan! We definitely need to do something about it. We deserve to have free time and enjoy working without feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
      Best wishes for 2017!! :-)

  5. Hi Magoz! I’m so happy to read your list! Here’s mine:
    · I made my second residency in Angoulême and finished my second comic book.
    · The famous spanish publishing house “La Cúpula” is going to publish it in 2017.
    · I made a lot of gigs as a DJ, encreasing the ones I do with vinyl, my favourite audio format.
    · I make, as I did in 2015, the Lluís Companys running competition, improving my time record.
    · I made more money compared to 2015 making illustration projects.
    · I’ve been hired by a little Manhattan-based Illsutration agency.
    · I’ve traveled around Perú (I’m still here), discovering a great culture and learning a lot.

    Thanks for your inspiration Magoz, nos vemos el año que viene!

    • Chema!!!
      Thanks for sharing your review with us and congrats on all your success!!
      I’m very happy to read that 2016 was so good for you.

      Enjoy Perú!!
      Hablamos y nos vemos pronto, amigo!!

  6. Thanks for sharing Magoz :)

    I am planning on doing a similar review today, so this is a great help.

    Interesting to hear about you wanting to do more traveling. I’m doing something similar, ie traveling and working as an illustrator and animator. Do you ever seek out other creatives or creative environments when traveling? This is something I’ve thought about recently as I sometimes miss having a ‘team’ environment around me for discussing ideas and challenging me.

    Thanks for all your work, and all the best for the new year!

    • Thanks, Michael! I’m glad you found this article useful.
      When I travel, I usually focus on the travelling experience itself and the places and people I meet. I would say the creative spirit is a consequence rather than an objective. I got a lot of inspiration and creativity boost when I travel. When I was travelling in Asia I had one of the most strong creative periods of my life.
      But I think your point makes a lot of sense, and it would be awesome to travel especially seeking out other creatives and creative environments.

      All the best for 2017!!

  7. Thanks for sharing this, it’s actually a very good way to look objectively at these past 12 months. As for me, I would have liked to work more, what I did wasn’t enough. On the other hand, I understood an important thing: you need to be mature – professionally, but not only – in order to get more and better commissions as an illustrator. This year has been focused mostly on that and, although the path in front of me still looks long, I’m glad I let myself be on it.
    Happy New Year Magoz and thank you for your generosity :)

    • Thanks for your comment, Cinzia!
      I totally agree from the lesson you learned in 2016. Being professional, mature and experienced is critical. It makes a massive change in our work and our careers.

      Happy New Year!! I wish you all the best for 2017!!

  8. Hi Magoz,
    Thank you for sharing & keep blogging! I got lots inspiration and insight from your blog posts. You also ‘revealed’ the work behind-the-scene which is for many artist it is her/his own secret. Hope you have great things come this year. xx

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Aisyah! I’m so glad you find the blog useful. I keep the content coming! :-)
      I wish you all the best for 2017!!!

  9. Hey Magoz!

    Primero de todo, Feliz Año Nuevo!

    Gracias de nuevo por compartir tus experiencias y aprendizajes profesionales. Te quería preguntar que tal te está funcionando el Logitech MX Master, ya que estoy pensando en pillármelo pero he visto que mucha gente se queja de la calidad de sus materiales y de como la rueda central deja de funcionar al poco tiempo de uso. Me lo recomendarías de todos modos? Resulta que como usuario aferrimo de Illustrator trabajo muchísimo más rápido con ratón que con tablet, pero el Magic Mouse de Apple tiene cero ergonomía y siento que me perjudica los dedos y la muñeca. Vale la pena la inversión?

    Gracias de antemano y un saludo!

    • ¡Feliz Año Nuevo, Enisaurus!
      Muchas gracias por pasarte por aquí a comentar.

      Pues el Logitech MX Master me funciona de maravilla, no tengo queja alguna. Llevo ya un año con él y lo encuentro muy cómodo y preciso. Los materiales me parecen muy buenos (son suaves al tacto pero a la vez da la sensación de un ratón robusto). La rueda central no me ha dado ningún problema tampoco.

      Una de las cosas que aprecio mucho es que la batería dura un montón y cuando se acaba puedes seguir usándolo mientras se carga a través del cable USB.
      Otra cosa uqe me encanta es que el software de Logitech te permite configurar profundamente todas las opciones del ratón incluyendo comportamientos distintos según la aplicación en la que estés.

      No soy un gran experto en ratones y tampoco un usuario muy exigente, pero mi experiencia no podría ser más buena.
      Espero que te sirva de ayuda, si tienes cualquier otra duda, aquí estoy :-)

      ¡Un abrazo!

  10. A

    Hi, Magoz!
    Thank you so much for your blog, I found a lot of useful information here.
    I was surprised that you moved from Spain to Helsinki.
    It would be great if you make a workshop in Helsinki too! I live in Saint Petersburg Russia and I would definitely come at it ?.

  11. I’m there with you for the reading part — I used to read so much more. But I reactivated my Audible account and now I listen to audiobooks while I work (unless it’s concept / idea phase, then I have to listen to instrumental music to focus). Thanks for sharing, cheerio ~

  12. Thank you for the insight Magoz I follow your career with great interest because I too am an aspiring illustrator. I am thinking of getting an ipad with the apple pencil. I hope to do what you do someday!

More from Thoughts