This is a continuation of my last post. At the start of the year I want to share a bit about what goes on behind the scenes as a working artist. In part 1, I talked about my daily rituals, which include journaling, planning, and reflecting. Today I want to share my bigger picture review process. Again, I want to share some of the resources that I’ve found useful in hopes that they’ll be helpful to others.
Annual reviews I've used and liked:
Each November and December I like to set aside some time to do an annual review. The timing isn't so much because it’s the end of the year, as much as I really like to step back and take stock during these dark days of winter. There are many ways to do a review. I like this resource that Alyson Stanfield (at Art Biz Coach) published for artists. It is an Annual Review that looks at all aspects of your art business, from building community and contacts to time spent in the studio. At the end of the blog post there is a handy pdf document that you can print and fill out. You have time sign up for her e-mail list, but I enjoy her weekly e-mails so I recommend it.
For the last couple of years I have also followed Lisa Jacobs’ “New Year for a New You” review series on Market Your Creativity. She just wrapped up this year’s review on her blog, and you can follow along and do it for yourself anytime. I like that she asks some tough questions about what is working and what isn’t. I always uncover something that I didn't expect by going through her questions. Lisa also leads you through a process of looking at how you spend your time, setting goals for the next year, and then breaking those goals down.
In addition to her review, Lisa Jacobs also publishes a workbook called Your Best Year. I’ve gotten the digital edition the last couple of years. I read it on a device and print out the worksheets. Some of the review questions overlap with the series I wrote about above, so it can be nice to use the two together. Also, Your Best Year is that it is a yearly workbook, so you keep checking in with your goals and doing mini reviews all year. I haven’t always been so good at following the exact workbook, but I do step back several times a year and assess my progress. For example if I haven’t been getting something done I decide if it’s time to buckle down and do it, or if I need to be spending my time elsewhere and remove it from my list. Sometimes it’s a bigger goal than I originally thought and I just need to break it down more. There are so many people who do a good job writing about setting goals and productivity, I don't want to go too far in that direction. I just want to share some things that I’ve found that have worked for me.
The Even Bigger Picture:
I have one more planning resource to share. A few years ago the Alaska State Council on the Arts hosted a workshop with Creative Capital for artists in Alaska. They brought and gave out their Strategic Planning workbooks. I think this is one of the first times I really sat down and looked at the big, big picture. What I love about their workbook is they have you look at all timescales from what to you want to accomplish in one, three, five and ten years, to even writing what you want your obituary to be (to get an idea you can look at the picture of the table of contents below). I remember feeling a bit frustrated because in my mid-twenties I didn’t really know everything that I wanted to accomplish in life. But it has been a really good frame of reference and something that I keep in mind when I sit down and do this work.
Inspiration and remembering there isn't one way:
I try to search for a balance between planning and doing the work. It’s important to step back and think about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, but after a while I just need to sit down and draw. To keep me inspired throughout the year I enjoy listening to a couple of podcasts where artists talk about the work of being artists. There is no one way to do this, and everyone finds a system that works for them. Here are two of my current favorite podcasts on this topic. They can keep you company in the studio or wherever you work:
Personal projects for this year:
Lastly I wanted to share a couple of projects I am working on this year as a result of my review and evaluation. These are personal art projects, which I’ll do in addition to illustration, commissions, and teaching.
- Back to field sketching – I love field sketching, but I’ve been a bit inconsistent in my practice recently. I got all inspired when putting together this post on Lara Gastinger’s Perpetual Journal and am going to start my own perpetual sketchbook. I’ve also got some awesome trips lined up and I want to take you along with me. I’m going to create zines or mini sketchbooks when I travel to Vietnam and Cambodia in February and when I hike the Chilkoot Trail as artist in residence in July.
- Work Bigger – I wrote about creating larger paintings on wood in a recent blog post. I’m going to keep this up and finish about one painting a month, or twelve for the year. Each one needs to be 16 x 24” or bigger. That is the current size I was working (and it’s still a stretch for me), but I’ve got some bigger panels sanded and ready to go!
- Make More – I’ve tried to do the daily sketching or art-making thing, and it just doesn’t work for me. I’m not an everyday the same amount of effort person. Some days I need to do nothing. Last winter I started making cyanotypes of drawings, and I want to make more. I got pretty excited about that work, but I am still not entirely sure the direction it is going. This year I’m going to make 100 cyanotypes. I’m hoping that with quantity I can learn more about the technical process and experiment with new directions to take the work.
So those are my goals guiding my personal studio practice. I’ll check in with you and share my progress here. What about you- Do you have anything big planned for 2018? What are your favorite business planning resources? I'd love to hear in a comment below or an e-mail. Thanks!