A great friend of mine, Erika Block, has launched an exciting project called The Inkdrop Project. Every week subscribers will receive a special note with words of encouragement and support from creative professionals. What a fabulous way to kick off your week!
Yesterday I facilitated a presentation on the how to begin your very own blog via WordPress.com. I was happy to see artists take their own careers in their own hands and put themselves in the driver seat to navigate their path to success.
Why a blog and not a website? I find blogs to be more engaging than a website. Websites are effective, however, if you are like me always on the go, seeing new art, going to receptions, visiting artists, and so on wouldn’t it be great to add photos, video, content right away? Yes, it can wait, but how many times do you forget to write things down or try to remember to later find out that you forgot? Having the option to do so can add excitement to your blog. People want to see you active. I do.
For the past few years, I have been involved in developing ways to help artists become successful. Each success defined by the artist’s need. My background as an art educator has given me the knowledge to pin point strengths and weaknesses, to listen to one’s needs, to assist in coming up with solutions, to take risks, and to reflect. In Education, you hear that today’s children is the future of tomorrow. This is true. I believe today’s artists enrich our lives with their art and their vision.
Artists tend to welcome a multiple of opportunities that may come their way. Whether it is a commission, a collaboration, or even exhibiting a local exhibition space. In the beginning of 2014, I wrote an article titled, What’s your Mission (June 25, 2013). You may be thinking why do I need a mission statement if I am an artist. Think of your mission as a your personal road map as to what is important and to figure out what you need to do to make that become reality. Should you be selective as to what you want to participate in? Yes! The thing that is great about writing a personal mission statement is that it can guide you in determining if a good opportunity is a great opportunity. If it is not a great opportunity that will advance your artists/career objectives then do not do it. A mission statement does not have to be published, but more of a reminder as you get bombarded with opportunities that involves you and your work.
Are you operating at your optimal level? Did you create a list of goals that you would like to achieve in 2014? Are you focusing on an annual goal? A quarterly goal? A monthly goal? Chances are you maybe engaging in one, two or all of the aforementioned. Over the past few years, my interest has been focused on the business side of art primarily due to running my art gallery. This focus has pushed me to begin exercising the muscles from the left-side of your brain. When you delve in to the business realm of art things change, headaches begin to develop, stress begins to shine, and your time becomes limited to do other creative things. However, I have learned that by balancing both sides of the brain can lead to a sense of achievement – a sense of success.
No matter what we strive to accomplish we are always trying to perfect the imperfection of our practice, process, business savviness, professional relationships, and so on. I realize I may be preaching to the choir on this topic, but sometimes we need to understand whichever system we decide to participate in we need to constantly maintain and nurture it so that we can adopt, adapt, and implement new ideas to assist us in reaching our goals through modification, simplification, and evaluation.
No one wants (at least publicly) to admit that the system he/she uses has weaknesses. Truth of the matter is that it may, which can result in taking proper action to improve it with the notion that we are not trying to perfect it, but to constantly work with any unforeseen obstacles that may come our way. Over time, we will create a system that will help us reaching new heights in our career. A system that will work for us to operate at our full potential on consistent basis.
Here is a list of my favorite top 10 tips for a successful 2014.
10) Host your very own open studio.
9) Have a crazy art idea? Run with it. You never know where it may take you.
8) Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
7) Write yourself a mission statement and make sure everything you do ‘fits’ your mission.
6) Show your best work.
5) Write about your art experiences and share them with your audience.
4) Write down a long-term goal and steps on how to achieve it.
2) Read books on the business side of art such as The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What you Love by Jackie Battenfield, Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thorton, and Living and Sustaining A Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists by Sharon Louden.
1) Document and reflect on a quarterly basis on your studio practice and sales.
Tonight I presented “Pathway to Success: A Plan Worth Praciticing” to Leah Schreiber‘s Art 604 class at UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts on the importance of self-promotion and how to succeeding in today’s art world. Leah has been organizing speakers throughout the semester addressing how to become a professional after graduation. Topics range from how to develop an effective portfolio to how to write an artist statement, networking to the business side of art. It is always a joy to share my journey as a gallery owner to a young and captive audience.
Photo credit: Leah Schreiber
In school we are taught how to create a strong body of work. A body of work that communicates the artist’s vision, intent, or ideas on a particular subject or issue. However, is this enough to go out there, be confident, and become successful?
I have had the opportunity to speak to BFA students on life after a college degree. This invitation was due to the fact that these schools understand the importance of building a program that not only encompasses skill building, but also the power of networking and getting your work out there for people to see. A question that is constantly lingering is how do I get my work out there? The answer will vary upon the artist’s needs. What I can tell you is that in order to get exposure, to begin developing a support system, to create your own art market, and (feel free to add your list here) is to start at the beginning.
The only person that knows what you need as an artist is YOU. You need to put yourself in the driver’s seat and begin planning your course of action. This course of action will take time to develop while identifying your personal inventory. It is important to navigate through this process with honesty, realistic goal setting, reflection, and patience. Success is not built overnight, but rather over a long period of time. It is important to build a strong foundation and continuously maintain the course of action you have created.
The above illustration is a model that I have been using for the past few years. I do, however, would like to point out that this model is not something I made up, but rather modified to fit my personal and artistic needs. It has enabled me to make decisions that are relevant to my practice as a gallery owner, educator and artist. In today’s art world artists have to maintain the balance with a business sense , promotional plan, creativity and innovation.
Next time you receive great news take a deep breath and figure out how to effectively communicate it with others versus screaming at the top of the hill hoping everyone will listen. Get their attention. Own it.