I think that would depend on whether you mean artistically or business wise. Artistically, I think, if you decide where you want to be then you may well end up excluding or not seeing areas of potential artistic growth because your focus may become too narrow. On the other hand knowing where you want to be business-wise (whilst incorporating some flexibility) must surely be a good thing.
You make a good point Sarah. Both the art and the business go hand in hand. I think that if you don’t know where you want to go then you don’t have any clear goals in mind. Perhaps the goals are too general in which case the artist won’t know what steps to take to get there. Instead they’ll be relying on “by chance”.
I feel that to some degree an artists must at least have some main goals and ideas of how to work towards them. The goals don’t have to be so narrowed down so that they limit themselves as Sarah mentioned above, but they should certainly have some.
I wonder if all the artists who are in transition would please stand up? I’m still figuring out how to take the folk art me and the painter me and roll them up in one package. Love them both.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? You might stumble across something interesting on the way but equally wander aimlessly for years achieving nothing. Having a goal gives you a direction and focuses your efforts. You can tell when you’ve arrived.
I think every artist needs to have goals and an understanding of what it is they want to achieve. Both Artistically and in other aspects of their professional careers.
They’re quite handy in the rest of your life as well!
That’s so true Cathy! setting realistic goals and planning how to achieve them is helpful for other parts of an artist’s life too. We have different responsibilities apart from our art so it carries over to everything else.
I think it is important to know what you want or where you want to be but equally, to be open to alternatives. After all, what you know and expect of the world may be (is very likely to be) only a small subset of all possibilities.
I also think that one can’t separate one’s “art life” (or professional life for the rest of the world) from the rest of one’s life. Our lives are made up of all the hours in the day, not just some of them.
I agree with Patricia. You need to have goals in order to focus your efforts toward something in particular. But you never know exactly where that path will lead you. You have to be open to change, but still have a plan of what sort of things you want to achieve. Maybe a way to look at it would be: “I want to be represented by X gallery” vs. “I want to be represented by a gallery on the level of X gallery.” You don’t want to limit what you can achieve, but too much freedom can lead to unfocused behavior that doesn’t end up getting you anywhere.
Good morning Alyson,
If the goal of producing art is a hobby and ultimately make a few paintings…sell them or not…paint for the sake of painting…then where and what are questions that are indeed immaterial
Yet on a professional level…knowing where I am going and what I want are essential questions that have to constantly be re-evaluated…re-addressed…assessed and often re-defined….think of any successful professional…their success didn’t happen by a random arbitrary method…it was well calculated…planned and pursued with dedication and fervor…
Painting predominately occupies my life…I paint everyday without exception and everyday I address exactly what I want and can clearly see precisely where I want to be and what it looks like…there is nothing vague or uncertain…
I feel in order to be successful as an artist it is not just about producing paintings…it is about developing art as my business…and where I want to be and what I want are questions…that must be answered…and very defined…
You wrote very succinctly what I think about myself as a professional artist. I’m constantly working to develop myself as an artist, reassessing where I want to be as a professional painter, and making needed adjustments as I go along.
Yea I think it is important, you have to have a vision of where you want to be. I set realistic goals for the near future, for instance I have started a series of art ‘Social Message’ I have 2 or 3 completed in that series so far, I want to have so much in this series, with the aim of getting it in a gallery.
P.S I really like the art in the post above. Reminds me of Turner
I think there is a spectrum of knowing what you want and where you want to be. Should you have a general idea? Yes. I think a few short-term and long-term goals are great because they keep you moving forward. However, having a flexible plan is of the utmost importance because you never know when life will hit or if you find another creative avenue.
When it comes to making art holding a clear picture of your goal in your mind is critical. I say “picture” because almost always it’s impossible to put words around the vision you are groping towards. Years ago when I was studying painting with Rudolf Baranik at the Art Students League of New York he used to tell me “see the painting you want in your mind before you start painting.” That’s some of the best advice I ever got.
Know yourself…To thine own self be true…be secure in who you are…Know how to define your own parameters…Know what you are willing to do & what you are not willing to do…If you first have a clear definition of who you are, then the future becomes just a realization of the actualization of your present…be yourself every day, & in the future you will achieve the harvest of all of those little days put together…The future is like the past- it is really the tiny moments where you are most yourself that you see as successes, either forwards or backwards…Write a list of your favorite things to do, then plan on doing them…Now you can see the future better…