Making Art Work 

AAD 66 week 3


In addition to blogging about my project for the “digital studio” class, I also need to keep a blog for my “business practices” class. So for now this will have to serve as a blog for both. (since come to find out, tumblr is not as user friendly as I thought it would be) (not that this is either, at least not for me)

For about three years now I’ve been working toward creating an income using my skills as an artist. As it is for many artists who make their art their work, the greatest challenge for me lies in creating some business structure for myself while at the same time maintaining creative productivity. The trouble is, the two seem to cancel each other out. It’s a catch 22 that I’ve got break out of. The very act of getting things in order, structured, scheduled, seems to stifle the free flow inspiration for my art. So for now my intention is to turn that around. Maybe it’s a matter of mind over matter. Maybe it’s a matter of learning to streamline my creative process. In any case, I hope this “pro-practices” class helps me create a productive business that allows me to continue to be a prolific artist.

In last Thursday night’s class we talked about some different business paths and setting clear intentions for our own direction. That’s like setting out to blaze a wide, level path through a dense forest and at the same time not wanting to cut down any trees. How’s that going to work?

Well, as creatives we’re problem solvers, right!? But the solutions have to work in the real world, not just in the hypothetical forest (I remind myself), which means my conflicting ideals may have to come to some sort of compromise. Obviously my work flow will need some flexibility, though, so what’s that look like? Flexible structure? Is that a thing? Sounds more like an oxymoron?

George (a much admired classmate) mentioned “checklists”. And I was like, Yes, checklists! Lists of tasks that any given job needs to be accomplished in order to be completed. Lists of tasks that you know you’ll be able to check off. Win win!

But I’m still speaking in fairly general terms here, and the inspiring miss Marcy asked us to be specific. So, Hmmm… Ok, my painting parties, for instance – I have a checklist of all the supplies I need to load up; easles, canvasses, paints, etc. But the list is incomplete. I know it is. There’s things I need to add, things I know I’ve avoided, like a sign-in sheet, a money box, receipts for guests, fliers for future events…

…Which opens a whole other topic – PLANNING AHEAD. Yes, “future events” would require “planning ahead” (in big, booming, scary-voice all caps, because it’s this big, ominous thing that spontaneous me is often so afraid of doing. Amazing the things your realize about yourself as you write)

So, face your fears and plan ahead, Robin! How hard can it be!? (Yeah but what if I have to cancel? I don’t want to be thought of as a flake.) …did you say “what if”? No! No what if! You make a plan and if you have to change it, you change it. Simple as that. You’re an effing flake if you DONT make a plan! Just do your best to make it feasible! (pep-talking myself here)

Now, my dream job?… My ideal day?… Again, I know we’re talking real world here, so I won’t go into riding unicorns along beaches at sunset after swimming with dolphins all day and eating cream brûlée for breakfast and staying fit without ever doing crunches. But I don’t think it’s unrealistic to think about teaching plein aire painting on a tropical island at some point. In the meantime though, I know I need to focus on things like creating organized contact lists, learning to efficiently use mail-chimp (or something like it). I mean, isn’t the dream job really just doing what you like to do and getting paid for it. And that is kind of what I’ve got going with painting commissions and doing my own art and selling it, and teaching art. That’s all fun and games. It’s just the marketing and organizing and structuring that needs to go along with that to make it work that makes it “work”. (Art, meet work. Work, this is art. They shake hands and nod politely)

Maybe for me it’s having some less-than-ideal days in between the ideal ones. Some days or weeks where I roll up my sleeves and put on my organizer hat and just keep the two things separate. Maybe that could become some sort of syncopated rhythm for myself. (Which reminds me, I was going to do that painting of hats)

Or I could learn to delegate… A topic for another blog post another day.