A neighbor knocks on the door and invites you to coffee during studio time. Mmmmm. Coffee would be good, you think. Do you take her up on her offer?
Everyone in your artist organization knows that you are the go-to guy to get stuff done, so they ask you to chair a committee for next year’s group show. You know your schedule is packed, but you feel a sense of duty. Do you give in and help them out?
Every time your father gets the chance, he insinuates that you aren’t a real artist. It’s really driving a wedge between the two of you. Do you say anything?
You hop on to Facebook to post to your business page and are tempted to click on an old (and previously long-forgotten) roommate to see what she’s up to. Do you do it?
In order to act confidently in these situations, you need to have a solid commitment to the boundaries around your life and career.
Bagging your studio time, agreeing to be the go-to volunteer, allowing people to poop on your dreams, and wasting time on social media are all career-killers.
Here’s how you can handle these situations.
The New Year brings a time for reflection, but also renewal. There’s a blank slate – a sense that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to.
These open-ended possibilities are often debilitating.
If it’s possible for us to do anything, why can’t we do everything?
Well, because you can’t. You just can’t.
You don’t have the time, the resources, or the energy to tackle everything you want to accomplish.
That’s why it’s important to prioritize, and this is where goal-setting comes in.
Some people may pooh-pooh goals, but I find that they’re a necessary step to not only getting things done, but also for feeling complete.
When we don’t have a goal and projects to mark off our list, we wander aimlessly and are never quite satisfied.
As you’re planning your year, what do you think is the most important goal you can accomplish in your art business in 2017?
Recently I was talking with Cynthia Morris, when, in response to who-knows-what, she said with a scowl, “Ideas! I’m so tired of hearing about ideas.” Or something like that.
Right then, I knew we had to talk about it. I knew she was on to something.
Listen in to the podcast as Cynthia and I talk about why too many ideas can be a bad thing for artists. Cynthia also gives practical tips on how to choose among your many ideas for your next big project.
Show Notes – Authored by Cynthia Morris
Creative people are blessed with an abundance of ideas. New ideas arrive daily, pulsing through our awareness and lighting up our sense of possibility like a scintillating fireworks display.
How fun! We love inhabiting the land of possibility, where our ideas inspire us, energize us and make us feel like omnipotent creators. We could do anything!
The problem is, we can’t do everything.
This abundance of ideas can become painful when we arrive at the crossroads of what to make next. The fireworks we loved so dearly becomes a dissatisfying decision swirl, making us second-guess everything, including our desire to make anything at all.
So, how can we know which projects to work on, and when?
Which of the seductive ideas do we devote ourselves to?
Is it harder to be a woman and have an art career?
I’m not talking about the fact that the art world is still male-dominated. I’m talking about juggling roles that are perceived to be held traditionally by women with your career as an artist.
Do you find it difficult to be wife, mother, caretaker, carpool-driver, housekeeper, and have an art career?
How or why is it harder to do this as an artist than if you were in another business?
What would make it easier? What could you do differently to make it easier on yourself.
And what about you guys? What do you think?
It’s a New Year and new start.
Everyone is talking about either setting goals or why you should avoid setting goals or making resolutions at all costs.
I’m not big on resolutions, but I stand firmly in the “goals are good for you” camp. I’ve seen them work for my clients and know they’ve propelled me further than I would have been without them.
So, let’s set some goals!
I’ve adapted the questions from the annual review and The See Plan to help you set goals for the New Year.
Promise not to go crazy with the process. Aim for 3-5 big goals for your year. This list is a starting point.
I thought I could get by without a personal review for one year. Or at least I thought I would skip mine.
Then I thought that you probably don’t need a reminder either. Who will notice if I don’t send? Who has time to do a personal review anyway?
Then I thought again. (There’s been a lot of thinking going on.) It’s a terrible idea to skip the personal review. And it’s a worse idea to let you think it’s okay to skip it.
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to review actions and to celebrate accomplishments before moving on to the next phase. We’ll never improve our results until we understand where we are and how we got here.
So, it’s time to look back on your year and assess your progress.
This year, try using the elements of The See Plan – the 8 C’s – to structure your questions: creativity, commitment, clarity, community, connection, confidence, completion, and celebration.
Grab a notebook and a pen and get started.
In 2000 I had been working in art museums for 10 years and had a great job as a director of education.
And I was miserable.
I had a choice. I could keep being miserable, or I could do something about it. I chose the latter. The next year I sold my house and donated many of my belongings. Then I packed up a U-Haul and moved to a small garage apartment in Denver.
I started an art-consulting business and was instantly happier.
I had no steady paycheck, no health insurance, and no idea how to run a business. But I was blissfully happy.
I chose happiness over the security of a museum job.
It was rocky in the beginning, but I kept getting requests for help from artists I had known in my museum career and others who found my art-consulting business online. I chose to listen to them.
I could have easily held firm to my original plan, but I made a different choice that has worked out pretty well.
Choice v. Sacrifice
We often think that building an art career requires sacrifice. You might sacrifice:
I feel like there is this big secret in the art world. It’s about how things work and how to be successful. Everyone but me seems to know what it is.
Ever feel this way?
If I only knew this one thing … this one elusive thing that I have no idea what it is … my art business would be a success. But I don’t even know what questions to ask to find it.
You’re not alone. Many artists are on a quest to find the magic bullet and hoping to uncover it in a new class, blog post, or book.
And, still, the cogs and sprockets (Jetsons, anyone?) that run the art world machine are a mystery to most.
Let’s consider all of the personalities that are part of the drama. You’ve got your artists, gallerists, and collectors. You have critics, curators, and consultants.
Not part of the gallery scene? You’re looking at festival organizers, licensing companies and agents, portrait brokers, and art consultants. Not to mention the people in organizations that oversee public art projects and residencies.
These days you have tech startups that create apps, software, and websites for artists to show their work. So let’s add RedBubble, Etsy, Fine Art America, and Society 6 to the list.
Finally, you have people like me who try to help you navigate the possibilities. Each of us comes from a different background with a unique set of strengths. Who to trust?
No wonder you’re confused!
It would be lovely if someone would hand you a road map to success, right?
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.
You survived another year as a working artist. Congratulations! Now it’s time to step back and look at all you have accomplished. This is a ritual to take your mind off of the long task list in front of you and to remind you that you really have done a great deal.