I am frequently on the receiving end of artists’ complaints about all of the computer work they have to do. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and then writing a blog post, sending an email, organizing photos … you know the list.
Yes, there is a lot of digital work that is required of today’s artists. And aren’t you lucky to have these free or low-cost tools that artists two decades ago didn’t have to share their art? (It’s a good idea to remember this now and then.)
In some instances, I find that artists who spend excessive amounts of time on the computer are doing so at the peril of their artwork.
In other words, they’re unconsciously doing it to avoid the studio work. And, let’s face it: The studio work is the harder work.
I don’t care how much you say you enjoy making art. When the pressure is on to show and sell your work, the creative process can be brutal.
It’s super easy to type, respond to comments, and “like” other people’s posts. You could waste all kinds of time doing that and that’s exactly what you’d be doing. Wasting time.
Don’t get me wrong: You can’t avoid these tasks entirely. But your days should be heavily weighted toward making art.
Are you using your computer work as an excuse to avoid engaging with your more important work?
You Are Not Alone
Please know that when you’re struggling to make art, you are not alone. All artists have phases that are more successful for creating than others.
It’s when the phase becomes your modus operandi that it is no longer acceptable. If you haven’t worked in the studio for days or weeks,
You might have noticed something about Art Biz Coach and me: we’re always changing.
I can’t help it. I am continually learning, so why should my services and offerings remain the same?
I always look for ways to offer more information in a fresh way that best serves my clients.
This is why there is no more Art Biz Bootcamp or Organize Your Art Biz – because I found ways to improve them.
Last year I introduced the Art Career Success System, a 5-month program to grow your art business. This year … Yep! It’s changing. It’s still around, but in a radically different format. (Stay tuned for that.)
I believe in personal and professional evolution. In fact, I may be addicted to it.
As an example, I expressed frustration with my coach recently about the fact that I seem to reinvent my programs every year. Won’t it ever calm down? I wondered.
She suggested, gently, that this is my nature. I have an artist’s soul and I like to create things.
There’s such joy for me in growing, planning, and improving. I’m guessin’ that you’re the same. You’re an artist, after all.
You’re all about making and creating. New! Next! Again!
New experiences add to your palette.
New visions force you to think differently.
New encounters ask you to question the same ole same ole.
Ignore these urges at your professional peril because the alternative is stagnation. Stuck-ness.
We all have projects that are part of our lives for longer than originally intended. The more we avoid them, the more monstrous they become.
Procrastination is in charge.
Today’s question …
How do you motivate yourself to finish up a project that has been hanging around the studio too long?
How to you face a project that you committed to, but no longer have any interest in?
We are often too quick to ask for feedback.
We’re equally guilty of giving feedback when it’s not requested (or wanted).
I’ve been guilty of both – especially the latter – and I’ve learned a lot about giving and receiving feedback. I owe much of what I know about feedback to Cynthia Morris, an artist and coach.
Here’s what I’ve learned from her and from others.
When Not to Ask for Feedback
Feedback is serious stuff. You should only ask for it if you’re prepared to hear the answers.
At certain points in the creative process, your project is in a delicate state. You might have a direction and be excited about it or, alternatively, not know what you’re doing.
Proceed with caution when you’re at this point. Asking for feedback too early doesn’t give you time to nurture your baby. The wrong words could put a quick halt to any enthusiasm you had and before you know it, your bubble has burst. Ouch!
How to Ask for Feedback
If you’ve ever questioned the reason for making art, you’re not alone.
After a particularly rough time, you might catch yourself asking, “What’s the point?” You might even begin to see your work as frivolous.
With so much bad news being printed and broadcasted, it’s easy to overlook the bigger picture. These thoughts might enter your head:
Shouldn’t I be out there saving people?
Shouldn’t I be waging peace and protecting the environment?
These are noble pursuits, but are they why you, in all of your magnificence, were put on earth?
After being asked these questions by a number of students and clients, I thought of at least eight reasons why you should be making art.
You have so many ideas. You’re full of creativity and ready to apply it to any material you come across.
You paint for the pleasure, you paint commissioned work, you make jewelry, you snap photos, and you teach. You know who you are. You’re going 90 miles an hour in every direction with your hair on fire.
People say you should focus – pick one thing and get on with it.
There’s that “s” word again: should. Beware of this word. I’ve been guilty of using it a lot myself, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of how dangerous it is.
The only thing you should do is to be in integrity with your goals, your purpose, and your vision. How this manifests itself in your life is a delicate negotiation between you and the Universe.
There is, however, a reasonable argument to be made for concentrating your creative energy in one area.
The Case for Focusing Your Art
When your work is moving in multiple directions simultaneously, at least four problems arise.
We received loads of good ideas for what to do with earlier artwork that is taking up emotional energy and inventory space.
Many of you wanted to donated it to charity, sell it at a steep discount, repurpose it, or destroy it. On top of this, a number of you said that if it’s not up to your standards, you should rework or destroy it rather than give it away. I agree.
As promised, I have selected a winner. Be sure to keep reading for the honorable mentions.
©Carol A. McIntyre, Nature’s Promise. Oil on panel, 20 x 20 inches.
The best idea for “how to get rid of earlier art” is from Carol McIntyre. Knowing
A retrospective is an exhibition that shows off the entire oeuvre of an artist’s career. Typically arranged chronologically and later in an artist’s life, retrospectives treat art viewers to the progression of the work in a single space.
I try to visit as many retrospectives as I can for artists I admire, which sometimes involves traveling and going out of my way as necessary. You never know when they will happen again since it’s difficult to borrow or gather the work in one place.
Retrospectives aren’t just for viewers. They provide an excellent opportunity for artists to examine their accomplishments.
Even without an art venue for your retrospective, you can take stock of your life’s work by creating a virtual retrospective.
I work every day to give you solid business advice through my blog, classes, social media posts, membership programs, and this newsletter. This is not only my job, it’s also my purpose. I don’t write about how you can improve your technique, try fresh materials on the market, or remove creative blocks. Your #1 job as a professional artist is to be working consistently in the studio.
For artists making art is life’s main goal, so what happens when we quit producing? When my 13-year-old dog died in September, I thought I’d hit the depths of sadness. Then my mother died in October, and I was suddenly sidelined by my own grief. The direct result of losing someone or something you love is profound grief. And that hollow, meaningless feeling that accompanies loss does not lead to art. Yet we know art is the answer.