Mood: Un-inspired (Truth is best)
So a Happy 2018 to all – and I hope the early days of the new year are treating you well!
I feel refreshed in terms of a new start and lots of potential ideas – but also dread of the thought of it being like last year and all the running around I did and ‘busy work’ for little or no results career wise or financially. On the one hand I’m determined to do things differently and focus on my new work and paintings but on the other I’m not sure I’ve currently got the energy or spirit to put into another huge endeavour, only to let myself and other people down or not gain anything from it. However, at the beginning of every year I make plans for the year ahead, and although it has been very sluggish and slow – with still parts to finish – I have done the same this year.
I would like this blog to help other artists out there who find the journey of Self Employed Artist a struggle at times. As I always say to my best friend when we talk or meet up to talk about our journey – if I do this – and master the art of being a self employed artist with a successful business – I would love to teach others how to do it.
So I am going to share what I do at the beginning of each year. I believe you can do these things anytime you would like a change though, it doesn’t always have to be the New Year. I always start off with creating several documents, this has expanded over the past few years – depending on the things I’ve read or things that my mentor has asked me to think about. One of the main things my mentor Dean told me to create was a To-Don’t List; all the things you are aware that you are doing that are completely not serving you at all and that you must stop doing!
This is actually a very useful exercise and you may be surprised with what you come up with. Some of mine this year are for instance quite simple: ‘Don’t set yourself too many pieces to work on at once’ this is one of the things that I do often and it depletes my energy, trying to focus on too many paintings or even developing too many ideas. One maybe two at a time only. And ‘Don’t finish work at 11/11.30pm at night’. I do this all the time, going to bed at 2am-3am. I’ve realised at the end of every day, no matter what you’re working on (unless it’s an emergency artwork deadline for a customer/client) you mind and body needs some downtime to relax. But also because if your mind is focused on your work all the time – especially creative work – you’ll find it harder to make progress if you’re not switching off from it. This is something I feel I really need to learn, as I hardly ever switch off from thinking about where my work is going.
Other documents I create at the beginning of each year include ‘Things I have Established From [Year]’. So on my ‘Things I Established From 2017’ document one of the things I established was that I am not very good currently at talking in public or to other people about my artwork, and get very tongue tied, nervous and just rattle on about things just to make conversation and that aren’t necessarily the truth or what my work is really about. And if I want to have a successful business in any sense – this has to change and confidence has to be developed.
This year I have also created a Research & Learning List. For instance mine includes aspects of the above and confidence growing in public talking, but also business and finance aspects I don’t yet fully understand. And finally my Goals For 2018. This year I have tried to just list things simply and not over complicate. My main goal this year is to develop my own voice as an artist, and be on the way to developing a business that I’m proud of, that’s more solid and that has a great future. I also think if it is a goal like this – to actually think about and write out what this would actually look like. For instance what would you be doing day to day? Where would your income come from? Where would your main customers be? Where would you exhibit? Where would you sell? etc – rather than everything being vague and aimless. I feel you really need to be specific about what you want. This this the one thing I still have yet to do – but will do this over the next week.
Of course the main thing about writing out such lists and plans for the year is that they’re in a place where you look at them a lot. Last year I left mine in a ring binder that I was aiming to put my research in and hardly looked at them! My goals for the year were also printed out and stuck to my wall right in front of me at my desk at home – yet I hardly looked at it. So I think there needs to be some kind of conscious effort or ritual of familiarising yourself with your aims and goals every day so they bury themselves into your subconscious, whether reading through them at a particular time each day or writing them out (and not making it a chore to do so). As we are in such a fast paced world today, that things like this are easily forgotten as life takes over – and before you know it, another year is over – a bit like what happened to me in 2017!
As always – constructive thoughts and comments are welcome, and thank you for reading.
Stay tuned for my next post as I will be talking about recent studio happenings and my new work in production!