“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Do you flow from one thing to the next just allowing your free spirited creativity to take you wherever it goes, whenever it goes or do you have a plan for where you want to go with the business of your art? You may have a great plan and are following it (Yeahhhhhhhh!!!) … you may have a plan you aren’t following or that needs to be revamped or you may have NO plan at all … either way I hope this blog post provides you with something!
Planning is the difference between wandering all over the woods, trying to figure out where to go next each, step along the way vs. following a path that you actually create and that will get you from point A to point Z effectively and quickly. It is also the difference between “Good Luck” and “Congratulations”.
You wouldn’t really expect to expand as an artist without spending the time to develop yourself and building your skills… would you? Then there would be no reason to expect to make a living from your art if you do not invest the time into developing and building the business of your art. Developing and building requires planning to end up where you really want to end up.
If the thought of planning shuts you down (I can hear all the various thoughts now: I am not good at planning, planning kills my creativity, artists don’t need plans, so-&-so didn’t have a plan, etc. etc. etc.) then read on. I know I am taking the risk of you closing this blog page now … but, please just let me just play this out with you for a moment …
Planning can sound very left brained and limiting but it isn’t. The foundation of planning is actually very creative … there are only 3 basic questions that form the steps to work with and everything else is built off of that:
1. Where am I now?
2. Where do I want to go & how will I know when I have gotten there?
3. How am I going to get there?
Other than the first question, which is just a snapshot of your current reality … all the rest are made up … purely creative … envisioning. It is creating your vision out in time. Take out the creativity and you have no plan … plans are a creation of a future that hasn’t happened yet. As artists that is what we constantly do … create. This is right brain work at it’s finest. WHOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!
For Question/Step # 2 start with your vision of where you want to be 5 years from now. How do your REALLY want it to be? Don’t hold back. Imagine it. Now in order to know if you have gotten there you need to get it really clear for yourself – Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you creating art for (who does your art resonate with)? What does your life look like? How much money are you making? How do you feel about yourself and your art and success? Get that vision really alive for you. The trick is to stand there in the future and describe it ALL in as much detail as you can so you can experience it.
For Question/Step # 3 – You begin to work back in time. Just keep envisioning it. If it looks a certain way in 5 years then how will it look in 4 years, 3 years, 2 years, 1 year … 6 months, 3 months, 1 month? Remember you are creating here … create it how you really want it to be. Create it as you go. This is just swinging out and asking at each step back in time: How do I want it to look like at this point in time?
Is there more to this step … YES (far be it from me to try to fool you). After you have the basic milestones laid out, go back and make sure you create tangible elements too such as the numbers (i.e. How much do you want to be making? How much time do you want to spend creating vs. working on your business and balancing your life?). Do not let the nay-saying, self-sabotaging voices in your head, that are telling you it isn’t possible, take over. Just keep creating as you step backwards in time.
Finally you will want to list out the actions you need to take to accomplish the first month of your plan. Then you get busy and take the actions for the first month and then lay out the actions for the second month. Action after action and month after month celebrate each victory. Each victory will build your confidence to go for the next victory. You are now on the path. It is a step at a time, action after action from there on out. The plan guides you. You follow. You accomplish the task at hand. You celebrate. You repeat.
NOTICE: Just to handle the other fears that may come up: There is no rule that says that along your path you cannot ever wander off the path to inquire what is over there or maybe over there … you simply have a path to come back to. The plan is not etched in stone and can be modified along the way if your inspiration changes … plans are a work in progress. Many times when we get in action along our path amazing surprising things will show up that we never calculated on in the beginning …
If you haven’t laid out your path take the time out to begin now. The sooner you have a plan and start following it the sooner you will begin heading towards a successful career as a Creative or Artist. Even if you have been working as an artist for years … it is never too late to start your plan or perhaps revamp your plan.
REWARD: Just because you have stuck in here this far … I will give you the MOST IMPORTANT piece to make sure your plan works: CREATE GREAT WORK, FROM YOUR HEART, THAT INSPIRES YOU!!! That is always at the center of the plan. This makes sure you stay inspired and frankly, it is why you are doing all of this in the first place.
Without that there is no need to try to go any further with a plan because the greatest plan on the planet will not make up for skipping that! Be the fullest expression of the artist or creative you are!!! Let the plan serve you!!
If you have read all the way through and you can see the importance of a plan but the task still has you stopped then find a solution like reaching out and getting someone to help you. Feel free to message me with any questions you may have. I am committed to your success!
So now … time to create … where do you want your career as an artist to be in 5 years?
I have just read your post. It was just what I needed .. I have been painting for 5 years s self taught artist.. I use to struggle saying I’m an artist as I have no Art qualifications, but not any more .. I am an artist self taught .. I was going to give up on it as I find it impossible to find a gallery that will allow me to exhibit unless your already a well known Artist they don’t want to know… So I will start with a plan… In five years time I want to paint for a living…
Thank you .. You have inspired me.
Pauline – Congratulations on teaching yourself – many of us do – I appreciate what that takes. Even after some of us have had formal training we are still stuck with “what do I do now?????” ! 🙂 Please do not allow yourself to ever give up! We need your art out in the world! I am so thrilled that you are inspired to create a plan.
Going it alone has real challenges so if you need anything along the way feel free to reach out … I can be found at email@example.com & that is what I do everyday of my life … help artists fulfill on their visions. Please also feel free to keep me posted on your progress!!!
Interesting blog,Thanks for writing it!
Thank YOU, Alix – I appreciate you not only reading it but taking the time to leave me a message! I post these every week so feel free to come back!
hello Kim! I read your above post and this is exactly what I’m looking at and thinking about! I recognize the problem I seem to have is that I don’t know where to focus my energies! I like to paint abstract small and large, I like to work more graphically and realistically , I like to draw, I like more cartoony things ., I like painting murals.. I feel like all my work looks different and I don’t feel like I know, out of my different styles, which is the most commercially viable or how to make whatever I do commercially viable .. how to bring a plan into focus ?? anyway, do you have any thoughts on this ? what are your rates for working with artists like myself? thanks so much !
Hi John – I understand completely – so many ideas & visions & things that turn you on and inspire you – on one hand it is an absolute gift … on the other hand it all needs to be harnessed in a why that it is viable. Oh, and viable WITHOUT killing off your creativity or feeling like you have been stripped of something. It is one of the biggest dilemma I see with most of us who are creative.
I have lots of thoughts. I could go on and on here … LOL. The good news is it is all doable! I’d love to speak with you by phone so I can hear more about you and your work and then I can share my thoughts that would be specific to you vs. some general thoughts (that may not do you a bit of good) and let you know how I work. I have various plans that can fit just about any budget. May I email you so we can get on a call person-to-person and chat about it?