``It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one.´´
Have other people's comments ever made you want to stop creating art? Have you ever wished you were more like those magical individuals who seem to exude self-confidence 24/7 and never let anyone rain on their parade? Ever wondered how much more productive and successful you'd be if you didn't allow other people's opinions to interfere with what you want to achieve in life?
``Haters don't really hate you! They hate themselves!´´ they say. ``Just ignore them and keep at it!´´ they say. These suggestions are all well and good, but do they help, really? Are you able to simply forget about what that rude person just said to you or do you let it sour the rest of your day, maybe even allowing the negativity to carry over until tomorrow? Most of us creative beings are sensitive by nature and, at times, it may take only one negative remark to make us forget about all we have done right. Over time I have realized that life is too short and I cannot waste precious time and energy on negative people that will bring me no growth whatsoever.
Criticism, constructive or not, will be a recurring element in any artist's career. No matter how talented or well-intentioned someone is, there will ALWAYS be people that do not agree with him/her. We need to practice effectively reacting to criticism until it becomes second nature to us. Whether we are sharing our work online or in person, we need to be prepared to react in a way that transmits professionalism. Remember, in order to receive respect, we need to give respect. You never want to do or say something that you'll regret later!
Accept the fact that ALL people who put themselves out there and/or dedicate their lives to activities that may be perceived as uncommon will be judged and that these things are beyond your control. What you CAN control, however, is how you react in these situations. And what you CAN be sure of, is that with time, it will become easier and easier to react favorably. In the first few years it's going to be challenging. However, in time you will gain more experience both in terms of artistic skill and verbal communication. You will get to know yourself as an artist and your self-confidence will grow without you even realizing it.
Next, I will explain why art criticism is an important part of any artist's career. I will also share some tips to apply when receiving criticism that will allow you to gain respect from others. To finish up, I will clarify how to properly critique a work of art.
What is Art Criticism and Why is it Important in an Artist's Life?
The term art criticism refers to the analysis, evaluation and discussion of an artwork. It requires the participant to reflect about a particular work of art and make a personal, substantiated interpretation of the piece. The term was first used in 1719 by English painter Jonathan Richardson in his publication An Essay on the Whole Art of Criticism. In his book, Richardson attempted to create a system to rank works of art based on drawing, composition, invention and use of color. Aside from analyzing the piece itself, professional art critics also question whether an artwork has importance within its historical context and how it relates to works before it.
Criticism (the constructive kind) is necessary in an artist's life because it is quite simply one of the best ways to improve our work. We should actively seek ways to better our skills, not only in terms of technique, but in how well we are able to engage and connect with the public. Even though most of us create in solitude, we do it with the purpose of eventually sharing our art with the world. Not everyone will react favorably, of course, but we should keep creating for those people that do find themselves in our work.
How to Take Criticism Like a Champ
Taking criticism is hard for anybody. However, as artists, we most frequently create in solitude and do not share responsibilities with anyone other but ourselves. This can make the experience a lot more personal and harder to deal with. Here are 10 tips that will help you receive and digest other people's comments in an effective way.
Read my blog post titled Self-Doubt as an Artist: How to Stay Confident and Keep Going.
How to Critique Artwork Intelligently
In his essay The Psychology of the Critic and Psychological Criticism (1962), author Philip Weissman argues that an art critic needs to have knowledge in the field in order to make a judgement. I'm including this final section because I want to encourage people to share their opinions about art in an intelligent, substantiated way that shows appreciation and leads to positive growth. Constructive criticism is based on facts, and only after proper analysis can judgement be made. Negative opinions void of any objective reasoning should be ignored.
I will be using Edmund Feldman's method of critiquing for the purpose of this explanation. His proposed system involves four steps: description, analysis, interpretation and judgement. You will notice how the first two steps of the process are the study of objective facts found within an artwork and the second half is more subjective in the sense that they require the participant to make connections, reflect and finally share a personal opinion.
As an example, I will apply Feldman's method of critiquing to the following masterpiece by the great Edward Hopper:
-This piece is titled Nighthawks and it was created by American painter Edward Hopper in 1942, amidst the socio-political turmoil caused by the ongoing World War 2. It is also important to note that Hopper lived through the Great Depression, which was an extremely hard economic time for many countries.
-The scene is very American and set within Hopper's time judging by architectural design and the dressing style of the subjects. It portrays a sense of everyday life in an American city.
-Hopper has mentioned that he was inspired by a particular diner in Greenwich Village, where he lived and worked from the time he was 31 until his death. However, it is not meant to be a direct representation and, by the lack of detail, one gets the sense that it could be any diner in any city.
-The medium used was oil paint and the style is quite realistic but not heavily detailed.
-In terms of Elements of Art, what strike out most are use of color, shape, space, form and line.
-One could say that the subject of the piece is the diner itself. However, inside it we can see four different characters. Our eyes gravitate towards the only woman included in the piece, due to the bright color of her clothes and hair. Hers is the only face we can see almost completely.
-The composition in itself is quite simple but is visually very engaging.
-The composition is divided into thirds and the diner takes up approximately two thirds of the entire area.
-The use of color in this piece is quite striking. The bright yellow hue used inside the diner, which creates the effect of fluorescent lighting, contrasts with the colors outside of it and provides emphasis on this area of the painting, where the subjects are located.
-There is a sense of illumination created by the diner's unnatural light. It spills onto the concrete outside and creates a few stark shadows. We can easily tell that it is nighttime, but we understand this from the moment we read the title of the piece.
-Muted, dark colors are used on the facades of the buildings and street elements outside of the diner. Very few details are included in this area, which further draws the viewer's focus to the inside of the diner.
-There is almost no sense of movement perceived, even within the diner.
-There is an asymmetrical balance achieved in the arrangement of forms within the composition. There is just the right amount of form and detail within the small area outside the diner to balance it with the enclosed area of interest.
-There are various lines included within the composition. The vertical lines used to create the windows of the diner and the buildings behind it ground the piece. At the same time, strong diagonals create the form of the diner and lead to a vanishing point somewhere outside the piece, to the left (linear perspective).
-These lines also create a triangular shape containing the subjects, making it look like the front part of a ship.
-Windows, architectural elements, and bar stools, create patterns and repetition in certain areas of the piece, transmitting a certain sense of order.
-Hopper creates very smooth paintings, leaving out texture (probably deliberately). We are only able to tell that there is glass separating us from the people inside the diner because of the edge painted at the end of the building. There is no door to be seen.
-Even though a lot of people consider Nighthawks an expression of Americans' feelings during the WW2 period, Hopper's wife once said that he deliberately chose to ignore the chaos going on around him, immersing himself in his work. The Pearl Harbor bombing occurred only a few days after this painting was completed.
-It is important to note that Hopper also lived through the Great Depression and did struggle economically for quite some time. Isolation and disconnect are present in many of Hopper's paintings even before WW2 started.
-This great artist was once quoted saying: "I don't think I ever tried to paint the American scene. I'm trying to paint myself." This tells us that Hopper used his work as a means of self-discovery and personal reflection.
-The emptiness in the piece, combined with lack of movement/expression, as well as the fact that these people seem close and yet apart (both amongst themselves and from the viewer), transmits feelings of loneliness and isolation. Even the couple sitting together seems detached. They could be married or they could be total strangers that just met.
-The stillness and silence make me feel like something is about to happen.
-I believe this piece is extremely effective in both technique and narrative. For me, both are essential in an artwork and Hopper's painting definitely shows both.
-I really admire Hopper's painting style as he creates a specific level of realism but retains visible brushstrokes, leaving out high amounts of detail.
-He was also immensely talented in terms of being able to transmit specific feelings and ideas to the viewer. His work is simple, displays common scenes, and yet is extremely psychological, making the viewer think whether there is another layer to everyday life.
-With every piece, the artist incites us to connect the dots and come up with stories. His work is compelling, even today.
-Hopper is known for taking a long time to complete his works, and the effectiveness of his paintings really show a deliberate study and planning on his part.
_Personally, I feel like a lot of Hopper's work (Nighthawks included) is able to resonate with people even today. I think the modern world is so fast-paced and immersed in technology (especially larger cities), that we lack deep communication with one another. We can be surrounded by large amounts of people and yet feel incredibly alone. Also, the lack of expression in Hopper's subjects reminds me of how we are becoming more and more desensitized by violence and, at times, lack the humanity to connect with others. We are together in this world and yet, almost everyday, we ignore there are others beside us that may need help. Everyone is their own island!
Because you will likely by receiving both positive and negative criticism on a regular basis, it is vital for you to start training yourself to respond in a professional manner and, more importantly, to not let it stop you from moving forward in your artistic journey. It is extremely unfortunate when artists never show their work out of fear of failure or criticism. Please remember that being brave enough to share work you have worked hard on is an accomplishment in and of itself!
``To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.´´
Have you ever had any particularly bad experiences receiving criticism? I'd love to know! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you SO much for reading! I hope this helped/encouraged you in some way.
Are you making the majority of your art marketing efforts via social media and online platforms, nearly ever leaving the comfort of your own office/studio? Do you choose to ignore the possibility of first-handedly selling your work to people or businesses within your city because you find face to face interaction kind of intimidating? Have you avoided promoting yourself and your work amongst people who know you (friends, family, coworkers, etc.) because you are worried about what they may think?
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear."
“Leadership requires five ingredients--brains, energy, determination, trust, and ethics. The key challenges today are in terms of the last two--trust and ethics."
In this post I will share a bit about where my mind has been in the past few months as I've started to build my art business. I'll also share the short term plans I've set that will help me start building a platform for future success, which includes reaching out to people I know as well as local businesses that could be interested in what I have to offer. Building relationships within your community is a vital part of being a freelancer or solopreneur, especially when starting out, and we should definitely make sure to invest time and effort into creating them, instead of focusing solely on the online world.
What I've Done So Far and Some of My Short-Term Plans
If you have already been following me for a bit, you probably already know that I made the jump from working full-time to starting my own art business quite recently. The time I have spent since resigning from my full-time teaching position until now has been absolutely amazing. I have been making art more than ever before and am finally on my way towards finding my artistic voice and style, which brings me a level of fulfillment unlike nothing I've ever felt.
However, though this time of artistic exploration and self-discovery has brought me SO MANY positive emotions, there's also been some amount of anxiety and stress looming over my head because I knew since day one that I had no time to lose in regards to starting my business. Before leaving my last job (which I worked at for six years) I made sure to set myself up as best as I could financially speaking and am still working part-time in order to generate somewhat of an income. Nonetheless, the pressure is on, and I know that I have to keep moving and building something that will eventually start bringing in money.
There's been SO incredibly much to learn in SO many different areas! Though I feel that I have grown so much in the past few months, I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some days, quite frankly, my brain feels like it's going to explode with all this information I have to wrap my head around. I WANT to be making art, but learning about the business aspects involved and promoting my work takes up A LOT of my time.
Sometimes days go by in which I don't pick up my sketchbook or paintbrush. I quickly learned (and accepted) that creating great art and making sure to continuously work towards improving artistic skills is only a slice of the pie...a very complex pie. Building a business takes large amounts of courage, dedication, and I've found, being one's own cheerleader. If you don't believe in what you have to offer, remain focused on your work, and do something everyday to expand your reach, NOBODY else is going to do it for you.
Though you are only one person, it is imperative that you do something every single day, whether it's online or off, to continue getting your name out there.
Read my blog post Self-Doubt as an Artist: How to Stay Confident and Keep Going.
I've been reading a lot and taking online courses, learning all I can about the many elements required to build an art business, from social media platforms (and what works well on each), the do's and don'ts of self-promotion, what to include in an effective website/portfolio, how to create sell-worthy products and opening online shops, shipping products, how to price artwork, TAXES AND ACCOUNTING, the legal aspects of being an artist, creating necessary documents for clients in order for projects to run as smoothly as possible...the list goes on and on.
Self-promotion (and more specifically the face-to-face kind) seems to be one of the hardest things for many of us and it is what I wish to focus on today. However hard marketing your work and building connections may be for you, it's important to take the bull by the horns and realize that if you don't do it, nobody else is. Realize that, no matter how amazing your work may be, if you don't constantly work to put it out there and connect with others in positive, constructive ways, people will not want to engage with you.
All this said, I have to admit that most of my marketing efforts have been online and not at personal level. I have decided that I am going to start fixing this situation during this last part of 2017 and use this holiday season in which people have gifts to buy (and seem to be generally more happy) to reach out. First, I am going to make sure that family and friends know EXACTLY what it is I'm doing and what I can offer. Many of them SORT of have an idea but, truth be told, I've put in much more time and effort into learning from and connecting with others behind a computer screen than chatting face to face.
My plans are to start selling Christmas/holiday themed gift cards and greeting cards with original watercolor illustrations to family, friends and coworkers, as well as start offering commissions. I will also start selling some of my finished oil paintings in, at least, one local shop and start cold-emailing businesses. I have printed a stack of business cards and will work on creating postcards to send to agencies and editorials very soon.
I am challenging myself to at least start with this during this last part of 2017 so that I can begin 2018 knowing I have already informed all those closest to me that I have quality products to offer. For some reason, I find it a lot harder to talk with my family about my passions and projects than with total strangers. Am I weird?
Local Connections: The Foundation for an Art Business
As artists, most of us tend to spend heaps of time working alone, which makes it even more important to schedule in time for social interaction. We ultimately create artwork for others to view and appreciate, and there's more of a chance that we'll be successful if we are able to orally communicate our ideas and talk about our artwork with self-confidence. Make no mistake, art friend, you are your best salesman/woman. Our art will not sell itself.
Now-a-days everyone seems to be online, and there's no denying that social media is a vital part of having any type of business. However, when we are just starting out, it is imperative that we build a solid platform of experience and connections to move forward. Once we have achieved a certain skill level and we are producing work consistently, we should begin communicating with the people around us (family, friends, coworkers, etc.). Chances are you already know a good amount of people that could find what you do useful in some way.
Don't ever feel foolish for starting small. Every business started somewhere! However, ALWAYS keep it professional. Always be kind, respectful, and act as a billboard for your brand. Yes, you are a brand! Remember, even when working for family or people who have known you for years, a client is a client, and your art should be valued because you have already put in a lot of time and effort to be where you are at.
These smaller jobs will allow you to start building confidence in your artistic skills and you'll learn how to better manage your time as well as how to effectively communicate with clients. Moreover, you'll be able to start building that resumé that will attract bigger clients/projects in the future. Take advantage of the so called `Domino Effect´. It takes one great relationship to start a chain of opportunities. Keep at it and, I assure you, as your network and experience expand, bigger opportunities will arise.
Trust as an Essential Component of Building a Brand and Business
It is a personal project of mine to build a YouTube channel. It's happening! I've even recorded videos and have invested in a DSLR camera, tripod and an arm/mount that will allow me to record my art in process. Why? Not only has YouTube been an invaluable resource in my learning as I build my artistic skills and business, but I KNOW that it is probably the best type of platform out there that will allow my prospective clients to get to know me and trust in what I can offer. In my opinion, it is one of the best things artists can do now-a-days.
Think about it. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter, are all awesome in their own way, but they are mostly curated images or very short videos and that's it. While YouTube videos are also highly edited and only show you a snippet of a person's life, the channels that have inspired me most of all are those created by artists and illustrators that try to keep it as real as possible, show how hard they are working to improve and how their life revolves around their work and clients/fans.
By consistently sharing their life and passions with us, these YouTubers are able to develop in us a sense of trust. We feel like we know them. This, inevitably, creates fans, as well as diverse opportunities for jobs and events. I know that constantly recording and editing videos entails A TON of hard work, but building a channel and putting yourself out there in this way is, in my opinion, the next best thing after face-to-face marketing. It is a way in which you can start to develop trust in people all around the world!
There's true value in connecting with people at a personal level and building genuine relationships. In a world in which most of our communication takes place behind a computer screen or cell phone, we long for warm connection. We want real-ness and sincerity in this heavily edited/curated world. Furthermore, businesses look for professionals that show authenticity and integrity.
If you don't have a solid list of past clients to vouch for you yet, the best way to show others that you can be trusted is by talking with them in person. Once you have that level of experience and solid proof you can be trusted, is when others will make the first move to reach out to YOU.
In my opinion, success is impossible without building solid relationships, and solid relationships require trust. Believe in yourself, work daily on building those relationships (both online and offline) and you will get there! Also remember that opportunities emerge from unexpected places!
Building solid relationships both online and offline is an essential part of starting (and maintaining) a successful business. Never be afraid to put yourself out there! Just think, what's the worst that can happen? Do what you can each and every single day to reach out to other human beings, whether they are people you can learn from or possible clients, always in positive ways.
Please, PLEASE, put in time and effort to personally interact with others in your community and NEVER underestimate what you can get from a job that may seem small. Continue working hard on what you love, sharing, and always keep in mind how your skills can help others. In time, recognition and money will grow!
Did you find it difficult/intimidating to get your art out there in the beginning? Did you go through any bad experiences when you shared the fact that you were starting a business with your art? Let's have a discussion in the comments section below!
Thank you SO much for reading! I hope this helped other artistpreneurs out there who are in a similar stage to mine in their art businesses! We can do it folks!
``Time is the single most important resource that we have. Every single minute we lose is never coming back.´´
Have you ever found yourself getting irritated or anxious after not being able to work on what truly matters to you due to time-consuming “adult" obligations? Do you ever go to bed disappointed with yourself because you weren't able to create as much as you would have liked that day, week or month?
The past few months have been eye-opening for me in terms of realizing how important it is to prioritize tasks and create schedules for myself if I want to succeed as an artist/creative entrepreneur. I had been working for employers full-time for basically my entire career so far until last June, when I decided to resign from the Art Teaching position I had in the same school for five years. Currently, I am working for an employer only part-time teaching art and working on my own artistic projects the rest of the work day.
The first month or so after resigning, my husband and I had our hands full moving from our old apartment into the house we are living in today. After we were relatively settled in, and I felt like I had a decent work space set up (and the mental capacity to start this new phase in my career-gulp!), I began creating lists of both short and long-term goals that I wanted to accomplish.
I knew from the start, that if I wanted to get anywhere as an artist, I would have to get serious, take matters into my own hands, and accomplish at least one thing every single day that would help me get closer and closer to my goal. I am lucky to have had those full-time job experiences which helped me develop a strong work ethic, organizational skills and an urgency to get things done.
It's been a struggle to fit everything I want to get done into one day, of course, as it probably is for most self-employed artists. Even though I consider myself relatively good at sticking to the commitments I have set for myself, it has been hard to remain disciplined working from home. It's been especially hard to focus on more business-related tasks because I am enjoying myself SO much as I finally have time to devote to my own artistic journey.
During this time I have also learned that when one works from home, distractions are ever-present and that people who have never experienced being self-employed are prone to thinking that because you are working from home and doing your own thing, you must not be under pressure at all. Yeah, right!
Being the owner of a small business means managing accounting, inventory, marketing, finding time to network and create relationships with other artists/art enthusiasts, managing websites and social media, AND making awesome art. Not to mention, when one is self-employed, usually this means having to find different ways to diversify your income, which means juggling a bunch of things at once. Your level of success and income depends solely on you and the hustle you are willing to put in once you have defined your goals.
As artists we are fully in charge of our own careers and, the sooner we realize that we are running a business and have to both learn to think strategically and follow through with decisive actions, the more successful we will become. For all this to happen, it is imperative that we learn to take control of our time.
Though I feel like my personal artistic journey is just beginning and I still have a lot to learn, I am happy to report that I have made decent progress towards my first set of goals, which included defining what it is that I want to offer, creating a cohesive online presence through my website and various art/creative platforms, growing an organic following on social media and to continue working hard at developing my artistic skills.
I have managed to keep up with frequent posting on my main accounts (some daily, some weekly). I have also made it a priority to create blog posts twice a week and am continuously learning about SEO in order to reach a larger audience. I've learned SO incredibly much already and am progressing towards better time management, which I consider to be the foundation for everything else. Here are a few things that I have implemented myself and have allowed me to progress slowly but surely towards my objectives.
9 Useful Time Management Tips
1. Define your goals
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” –Yogi Berra
First and foremost, you have to think about what is most important to you. Define what it is you want out of life at personal, career and family/social levels. These are all equally important. Who do you want to become? For me, it helps to think about the people I admire, even if they are not in the same field I am in professionally speaking. What is it about their personality that draws you to them? What kind of energy do they put out into the world? What would you say THEY prioritize? What steps do you think you have to take in order to become the version of yourself you want to become?
Once you know what you want in these three categories, set specific goals for each. Make sure these goals are measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Personally, I never think more than a year in advance. I list my goals for the year (perhaps around 5) and flesh out more specific things to work on each month based on those goals.
2. Create a weekly schedules and daily to-do lists
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.” –Napoleon Hill
After thinking about where you want to be at the end of the year and breaking that larger goal up into monthly tasks, you have to think about what specific actions you will have to take each week to make those monthly goals happen. Creating weekly schedules and daily bullet lists whenever necessary is extremely helpful. For me, they are essential in order to function on a day to day basis.
I am usually pretty strict about following my time-block schedule from Monday through Friday, but for the weekends I prefer to leave my days a bit more open and flexible by creating simple checklists of things I have to get done. By keeping things more flexible on Saturdays and Sundays, I am able to work around family gatherings, social commitments, or other special events. As long as I make sure to check off my to-do list items, I go to bed happy, knowing that I made some progress.
Creating daily to-do lists is especially helpful on more chaotic days that will be full of important and varied activities. When I know one of these days is coming up I create my to-do list, making sure to highlight the activities I need to prioritize. These bullet lists include appointments or errands that I didn't initially account for in my weekly scheduling. If I am not able to get through my daily to-do lists, which happens more often than I'd like, I take the next day as a new opportunity instead of beating myself up about it. Life happens and, though it is important to create plans, we also have to remain flexible and keep in mind things are always going to pop up.
The image below is what my ideal work week looks like. I really recommend creating a schedule using time blocks. However, I highly recommend you to modify your schedule's format depending on what works for you personally. Remember to include personal/self, work and family/social time in there! You can create a re-usable template either digitally or by hand, whatever floats your boat!
My Ideal Work Week:
3. Learn to say NO
“We must say "no" to what, in our heart, we don't want. We must say "no" to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say "no" to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else's. We must say “no.” -Suzette R. Hinton
Remember, time is finite resource and every single minute that goes by is a minute you will not get back. Life is short and we have to make sure we are spending our valuable time doing activities that will get us closer to our goals and overall happiness.
Set your non-negotiables from the start and account for that time EVERY day. For example, for me, it is extremely important to have time to work out, enjoy home cooked meals, and to get decent rest every single day. These are things I need for my health and well-being. It is also a non-negotiable for me to have time to spend with my husband at the end of each work day and to have the opportunity to catch up with extended family or friends on weekends. These are things I need at a family/social level. It is imperative for you to make time for those special people in your life.
I will not take on projects or say `yes` to social gatherings that are not going to contribute to my goals in some way. These needs will obviously vary from person to person. Always keep in mind that your mental and physical well-being is just as important as anything else. I firmly believe that the better you take care of yourself, the better artist you will be. Not to mention, you will be able to create art for a longer time.
4. Identify personal time-wasters and cut down on distractions
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks."
We live in a world of constant distraction. If we aren't careful, we can waste entire days without being productive at all. You need to assess for yourself whether those activities that are taking away so much of your time are helping you get closer to your goal in any way. Be honest with yourself! If they aren't, cut them out. For example, if you find yourself stalking people on social media for hours on end, engaging in constant negative small-talk with so-called friends or other activities that will bring nothing positive to you, cut those activities out of your life. I personally am completely unapologetic about it. If you find this too hard, at least avoid doing it during times when you should be positive and focusing on your work.
Make sure you are using social media only for work-related tasks during the day so that you aren't trying to finish up important things late at night, when you should be resting in order to be fresh and productive the following day. Not resting properly will affect your work and productivity and will perhaps even throw your entire week off.
Schedule in times for non-art related tasks in a smart way so that you use your most productive hours for creative tasks. Instead of checking your email once every few hours, check and respond to emails once a day and make sure not to spend more than 30 mins on them. Make things like phone calls, errands, home chores, etc. all revolve around your production time as much as possible.
Keep your phone on silent during times that require special focus and attention and try to diminish multitasking. Studies have found that if you are trying to do several things at once, it is likely the outcomes of those things will be mediocre. Instead, set specific times for each task and focus on one thing at a time.
I really recommend setting aside some time at the end of each week to think about what your personal time-wasters are and when it is you find yourself getting sucked into them. Modify your schedule if at the end of the week you find something didn't work for you.
5. Keep studio/office, artwork and computer files organized
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned." -Benjamin Franklin
A lot of time is wasted when we have to look for things. By keeping your work area, supplies and artwork organized you will not only be able to find whatever you need faster, but you will avoid lost/damaged work, accidents and a lot of anxiety. At the end of each workday, I like to spend a few minutes organizing my studio/office so that the next morning I am inspired to start right away.
As artists, our computers, phones and other devices collect a lot of reference image files, scanned artwork, etc. I recommend keeping these digital files organized and labelled appropriately. Being organized is especially important because, being self-employed, you will have to stay on top of several different sources of revenue and specific client projects. Not to mention, we are also responsible for keeping track of our monthly income and spending. It is very important to create a system for organizing receipts and invoices as well as contracts, client emails and other necessary documents. Create back-ups on a regular basis.
6. Set reminders and alarms throughout the day if necessary
“Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock." -Pablo Picasso
If you're anything like me, time goes by fast when you are in the process of creation. Even though production time is extremely important, as business owners it is imperative for us to stay on top of many other things as well. I use my phone to set reminders and alarms on days in which I have to be somewhere at a specific time (appointments, meetings, classes, online workshops/webinars, etc.).
For me, punctuality is essential in order to transmit professionalism and seriousness. It shows you respect other people's time and that you have your priorities in check. Also, each day can be very different as a self-employed creative and it can be a lot easier to forget things when you have no co-workers or bosses reminding you what you have to do and where you have to be. It's imperative that you set your own systems.
7. Assess and improve time management strategies
“Practice without improvement is meaningless." -Chuck Knox
At the end of each month, it is useful to sit down and think about what worked in your scheduling practice and what didn't. Maybe you find you are able to be more effective creatively in the morning, in which case you should consider scheduling in your art-production block earlier. You can leave tasks that require less critical thinking (responding to emails, posting on social media, etc.) at a later time. Or perhaps you do some research and find out you get more engagement when posting on social media at specific times, in which case you should not waste time on them at other moments of the day.
Assessing your systems regularly will allow you to keep improving your productivity levels over time. Improvement is the name of the game when you are building a business!
8. Consider delegating tasks
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do." -Jessica Jackley
I am SO guilty of burning myself out after wanting to do everything alone! Because I am interested in a very wide variety of things, I get excited and want to learn/experiment with them first-handedly. I start new things when I already have a lot on my plate and perhaps even succeed at finishing everything on time, but my health takes a toll. I have to remind myself that the tasks that I set out to achieve have to be feasible.
One thing I have learned these past few months is how important it is to define goals and streamline systems in order to reach success sooner. There are things that you have to be willing to set aside if you want to become amazing at one specific thing.
Once your business takes off and/or you have the resources to get help, I suggest you do it. You can delegate the tasks that don't excite you as much like maintaining your website, cleaning your studio/office, scanning and organizing artwork, etc. This will allow you more time and energy to focus on producing artwork and this will allow you to develop artistically faster!
9. Be consistent and never forget to celebrate your accomplishments
“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best." -Theodore Isaac Rubin
We tend to focus on everything that we have yet to do and don't take a moment to realize how far we have come since we started. It wasn't until I started writing this blog post, for example, that I realized all of the things I have been able to do in only a couple of months! PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK FOR YOUR HARD WORK EVERY NOW AND THEN. Milestones are important and acknowledging them will encourage you to keep working hard towards your goals.
If you have done your absolute best every day, you ARE progressing and you should be proud of yourself. You should be proud of yourself for being brave enough to even take this entrepreneurial route and for working hard to create the life you want to live.
Finally, I want to encourage you to dream big and never let fear hold you back from achieving your dreams. You can get anywhere if you believe in yourself and set yourself up for success by learning, planning and being consistent.
Don't let perfectionism, fear of failure, or criticism get in the way of something you truly want. Also, take it one step at a time! Remember that getting things done is better that not doing them at all. After all, growing a business is a learning process and we will be improving throughout the way. The important thing is to do our best on a daily basis and to never give up!
What are YOUR greatest time-management challenges? Have you ever gone through long periods of time in which you haven't been able to produce artwork due to life getting busy/complicated? How has this impacted you, personally? Let's discuss in the comments section below!
Thank you SO much for visiting my site and reading this blog post. I hope that it helped you in some way! See you around!
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