2016 and beyond for BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art

So on this last day of 2016, I take a few moments to look back on the year and try to project what lies ahead for 2017.

Business wise, it was a good year. Not a great year. But a good year. I worked with a variety of new clients, lost an established one and still maintain ties with a long-time relationship which is very rewarding.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

Though not a paying ciient, the invite that I created for our SLUH 40th Year Reunion was great fun and so was the Reunion weekend.

I created a number of videos, helped re-vamp one client’s website and we’ll soon be launching a new branding effort for another one. I began blogging for one client, worked on some PPC ads and I’m in the midst of working on a new TV and radio campaign as well. (Sorry for not naming client names – I only do that when I have permission and for this particular piece, I’m not even bothering to ask.)

On the art side of things, I was happy with the progress I’ve made as a painter. I created 11 paintings in 2016 – I don’t exactly churn them out, but I do stay at it and I continue to try and improve my brushwork, executing a variety of ideas that come from all places but always seem to circle back to Magritte in one way or another.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

This painting was probably my favorite one that I created in 2016. It will be one of more than 30 on display at a solo show coming up in March.

I began to more actively market my art this year as well. I now have two websites devoted to my art: http://bloodlinesart.com and http://tom-blood.pixels.com

The first site looks nice but has basically been useless due to a lack of promotion on my part. The second site enables you to take your art and have it show up in the form of pillows, tote bags, iPhone covers, coffee mugs, greeting cards and a variety of ways to order prints. That site continues to draw about 25-50 visitors a day and I’m approaching more than 8000 views since I started it back in July. The sales effort though has been somewhat disappointing – I’ve made enough to pay for the site but that’s about it.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I've sold a few of them in 2016.

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow and I’ve sold a few of them in 2016.

There are more than a million works of art on the website. So I’m not overly surprised that my work isn’t selling like gangbusters. I don’t do art for a living. I do it for fun. I do it because I can. And I will continue to try and get better with each painting.

Prospects for 2017 look solid for both BloodLines Creative and BloodLines Art. Currently, I have a number of projects already in the books, some that will be on-going thru the Spring. I’m hoping to have my website fully optimized by the end of January and then I’ll begin more aggressive new business pursuits.

I hope to ramp up my blogging efforts in 2017 and have them be more focused on advertising and art. I dropped off the blogosphere and I’ve lost a lot of regular readers. Hopefully, I can earn them back.

I’m going to be ramping up for my first solo art show since 1994 over the next two months. It’s going to be at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s both an art gallery and a music venue which will be awesome as I’ll have more than 30 works on display throughout the month of March. Opening night is going to be on Friday, March 3 and feature the music of Tom Blood, Jr.

More on that will be coming.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

1900 Park will be the site of my first solo art show since 1994. Opening night will be on Friday, March 3rd.

I have learned in this business that you never know what’s around the corner. You do your best, try your hardest, be honest with the people you work with and have fun in the process and generally, good things will happen. I have been blessed to work with so many gifted individuals through the years. I continue to learn and explore new ways to market – but bottom line, whether you’re doing a website or online ads or developing a trade show booth, you still need big ideas to stand out, get noticed and acted upon.

I’ve still got a lot of those.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you on the other side of 2017.

 

Going out as an All Star

Michael Blood took the mound on Monday night, one of several players from his Easton Tigers summer baseball team selected to play in the 18U All Star game. His inning lasted maybe 5 minutes tops as he quickly shut his opponents down and that was it. The end of his high school baseball playing days.

Michael may go on to pitch in club baseball down at Mizzou or perhaps play in another summer league. That’s still TBD. But for now, it’s a wrap.

What a fun ride it’s been.

Michael’s always had a love affair with baseball. And I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of it.

He’s had a glove and a bat in his hand (golf clubs, too) since he was old enough to walk. Even when it was coach pitch in those early days of CYC ball he could flat out hit and we had many a backyard session where we threw the ball around, eventually ending up with me calling balls and strikes for a couple of innings worth of pitches.

When Tom Jr. was going into 5th grade, he expressed a desire to pitch and we began getting lessons from a guy named Mike Killian. Michael got in on the action as well, learning the basics of the windup and throwing motion from a guy who once pitched in the Reds organization. The lessons took place in some empty warehouse in Fenton. I can still remember a few wild pitches bouncing off the aluminum siding walls with a clang.

But they both got better.

I coached Michael’s team from second grade through eighth grade and was always thrilled to have that opportunity. We had a great group of kids as well as parents and the majority of the team that we had in second grade were still on the team when we finished up in eighth. We went to the playoffs every year, finishing first or second in our league, capped off by our appearance in the City-County playoffs where we lost a heart-breaker to a St. Monica team that went on to win it all.

Michael was on the mound for a lot of those games but CYC wasn’t quite enough for him so he played on a team in the Kirkwood Athletic Association called the Redbirds and that was a whole different set of players, personalities and fun.

Thanks to Brad Bakula, the Redbirds took a trip to Cooperstown where we stayed in their Ballpark Village and endured a lot of rain but had a lot of fun, too. Michael quickly learned that there’s always someone out there trying to be better than him and that you had to work hard to succeed. The Redbirds won a lot of games but they lost quite a few, too – and that was a good thing. It teaches you that it’s just a game – and that there’s always another one waiting to be played so keep trying and keep on getting better.

By the time Michael made it to high school, competition had gotten tough and Michael’s growth curve was still waiting to begin. But he could still pitch. His form is great, thanks in large part to Matt Whiteside at All Star Performance. Michael had been going to Matt since 5th grade, beginning lessons every winter, always leading right up to the first week of practice.

In Michael’s freshman year, he made SLUH’s C team and pitched well. Next year he was on the B team and he did even better. But his junior year, there was an abundance of strong senior pitchers and Michael got cut from the Varsity. Rather than quit baseball altogether, he joined a summer league. He worked out regularly and beefed up. His fastball was in the mid 80s. His curve was wicked and his changeup could make batters look silly. When he went out for SLUH’s Varsity his senior year, he was the only player to try out who hadn’t been on the team the year prior.

He made the team and though I think he was underutilized, he still had a few shining moments and it was fun watching SLUH’s team win their district before being eliminated by Francis Howell in a state quarterfinal. This summer, he rejoined his Easton Tigers team from last year and became their number one guy, leading the team in wins, innings pitched and ERA and got a well-deserved nod to the league All Star game.

The game took place at TR Hughes ball park last night, home of the River City Rascals.

When the inning he pitched was over, I stood up, walked over to his coach and thanked him.

You’re an All Star, Michael Blood.

Now it’s on to bigger things.