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Share Your Artistic Talents for a Dose of Good Karma

Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity

Should we share our artistic talents more? I was prompted to ask myself this question after a visit to the remarkable Clocktower Art Gallery, which is sited in one of the Uk’s largest hospital complexes – Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

Photo by lizjones112There's an art gallery under that clock tower!

The Clocktower Gallery is not some collection of dusty old cast-offs – as I’ve all too often come to expect (fear?) from hospital corridor art – but a proper art gallery with acres of wall space and art that is either accomplished or getting there – and for sale.

But in fact, this art gallery is about much more than displaying and selling good paintings. It’s enthusiastic Arts Co-ordinator, Kerry Blackett has a remit that includes the artistic welfare of the entire, huge hospital – and she’s really going for it, with projects spread right across the artistic spectrum, and involving volunteer artists of all kinds.

Do I Contribute Enough?
My conversation with her challenged me to think about my own contributions to the creative and artistic wellbeing of my own community. This blog apart, it’s not as much as it perhaps could be – or used to be.

Is that bad?

Well, maybe not. As I’ve discussed before, my wife Lynda’s health challenges have been pretty severe over the years and that’s certainly played its part in me doing less. Lynda herself was very generous with her time when she was fitter. But for myself maybe now is a good time to reconsider.

Why We Should and Why We Shouldn’t
It would be easy to slant this piece towards some preachy, guilt driven appeal to everyone to give more of their time and artistic talent, and to paint it as heroically fine and selfless – cue trumpet fanfare and blazing sunbeams breaking though the clouds to illuminate your shining goodness.

I’m not going to though. I really don’t like the unspoken assumption of moral superiority that often goes with such appeals. And there are lots of good reasons not to do more.

For a start, you might well be doing plenty already. Or you may be horrified at the particular challenges involved. You may find the distraction (or even the thought of the distraction) knocks you out of your creative stride. You may simply not have the time, energy, or health.

These are not excuses they are good reasons, which I have no intention of questioning.

Benefits of Giving
But there are also good reasons why any of us might want to help others to find their own artistic fulfilment – not least is the sense of personal wellbeing it can bring. Yes, giving and helping feels good. It connects you with others and offers valuable feelings of self-worth – and a poor sense of self-worth is something that blights far too many artists’ lives. Put simply, the right kind of giving and helping helps us to feel more whole, more complete.

Photo by crashmattThe Clock Tower Gallery, Northern General Hospital

Get Your Good Karma Here!
Yes, there’s a powerful dose of good karma available from all this. And if you choose well you should be getting even more – a welcome hit of added fun and enjoyment. Can’t be bad.

You may not be in the right place right now, and that’s fine. But it might be that this is just the right time for you to rethink what it is you’ve got to offer, and whether now is the time to offer it. That may be by finding someone in your community like Kerry Blackett at Sheffield Northern General Hospital or it could be something completely different.

One thing’s for sure – if you are ready for the challenge it won’t just be other people who benefit. If it’s done right you’ll get just as much back as you give out.

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See also:
The Power of Small Gifts – Gifts from the Universe

How to Set Good Artistic Goals for 2009

Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity

The artist with good goals achieves more than the artist without. Simple as that. And there is no finer time than now to take a good look at what you would like achieve.

Set goals for a year artistic awesomeness
Photo by Michael Castielli

Now the dust has settled on the festivities it’s time to get going again with your life and your artistic endeavours. It’s a fair bet that you’ve spent some time over the last few weeks mulling over the things you want to do better. You may have even made some resolutions. Hey – you could quite possibly have already broken them. If not, and sorry to sound negative here, you probably will within the next few weeks.

That’s the trouble with resolutions – easy to make and easy to break. No wonder 9 out of 10 personal development professionals hate resolutions… (actually it’s 10 out of 10 but it didn’t sound so good).

Luckily there is a far, far more effective option – goals.

Don’t Stop Reading Here!

Oh, I know – it’s goals again. And I do realise that for many (but not all) artists, writers and other creatives, just hearing the word ‘goal’ is enough to send them running for the hills. My own partner Lynda has always found artistic goal setting the quickest way to an artist’s block. If you are amongst those numbers I’d like to recommend my article Organic Goal Setting – which offers a gentler, less threatening way to move towards what you want.

Setting yourself goals of any kind can feel a little scary, with thoughts of both failure and success able to unsettle your mind. But done right it should be a good kind of scared, an inspiring frisson of excitement kind of scared. After all, it means clearly stating that you are aiming to achieve something you deeply desire.

Artists with Clear Artistic Goals Achieve More

Done right, the artistic person with thoughtful, compelling artistic goals will outperform every time – and feel much happier about themselves and their art. The artist with good goals does more, and does it better. Simple as that.

And there is no finer time than now to take a good look at what you would like achieve over the next 3 – 12 months.

January Optimism

Here’s an interesting side effect of setting your artistic goals for the year right now. The next few weeks are well documented as the most depressing of the year. But a thoughtful set of shiny new-year goals transforms your dark January into days full of optimism, purpose and self belief. Can’t be bad.

Here are 9 steps to brilliant artistic goals.

1. Know What You Want

Sounds Obvious. Actually it’s anything but. Sometimes the things we really want are different from the things we think we want. Some intuitive, intelligent contemplation required here.

2. Know What You Need

A subtle distinction from step 1. What you need can be seen as the steps to help you get to what you want. Or it may be about stopping or controlling the stuff that’s getting in the way of your artistic desires.

3. Weigh Up the Costs and Benefits

There’s no point whatsoever in setting artistic goals that require actions and commitments you aren’t willing to do. Be honest with yourself, but don’t be over-pessimistic.

4. Tangible, Time-Limited Goals Work Best

It’s one thing to say you want to write, paint or perform better – but it’s way more inspiring to be clear about the standards, milestones and targets you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve them by.

5. Break It Down

If you have big, ambitious goals for your art, break them down into smaller sub-goals that are easier to imagine achieving. And take encouragement from each small achievement along the way.

6. Monitor Progress

Set review dates, make charts, discuss with friends – whatever it takes to keep your artistic goals at the front of your consciousness. Reviews help you see where you can improve and help you recognise and celebrate your successes.

7. A Setback is Just a Setback

When you lose your way, have a bad couple of days or fall behind your targets – then review, modify your goals and get started again. If you view setbacks as signs of failure you are likely to give up. But a setback is just a setback. Everybody has them, but it’s how you react to them that makes all the difference. Find the attitude that best helps you get up from the knockdowns and carry on to your artistic success. Don’t give up.

8. Enjoy the Journey

Willpower alone in never enough – so don’t rely on it. Find the right frame of mind to make your journey towards your artistic goals enjoyable at every step. Artists who know how to achieve more have usually done so by finding enjoyment and/or gratification all along their route to success. Find ways to enjoy whatever you are doing.

9. Visualise the Benefits of Your Artistic Achievement

Want to feel spurred on? Inspired to do more? Then just imagine yourself as the person you will be when you have achieved your artistic goals. Feel the impact on your self-confidence, your ability, earnings, sense of wellbeing, relationships.

10. Choose Who to Share Your Artistic Goals with.

Sharing your artistic goals with supportive people can boost your confidence and inspire you towards success. But beware! Some people will transfer their own negativity to you. Definitely do share your goals with those who will help you and inspire you. Make it ‘need to know’ for the energy drainers, moaners and put-downers.

Like most things in art and life, preparation is the key. New year’s resolutions tend to have no preparation – just wishful thinking – and that’s why they don’t last. Good goal setting does require preparation, but study after study have shown that goal setting works.

Here’s one resolution you can make – take some time out and prepare for a year of artistic success.

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Other relevant posts:
Find Your Definition of Creative Success
Planning and Goal Setting – a Message for the Terrified

Now is the Time for Your Artistic Review of the Year

So 2009 is almost upon us and I guess you’ve already started thinking abut the new artistic successes you’d like to achieve.

Stop.

sparklers, image by Gaetan LeeWhether you want to improve on a poor year or build on a great one, you need to review. As the saying goes – knowledge is power. Investing just half an hour of today on an artistic review of the last year can have a profound impact on your artistic achievements for 2009.

Now that has to be a worthwhile trade-off.

6 Step Artistic Review of 2008

Okay, so you could simply think about how the last year went for you and your art – and that will be a good start. But ask yourself these 6 specific questions to really gain some artistic clarity.

  1. What part of my artistic practice did I enjoy most?
  2. What did I find hard to do/maintain?
  3. What/who were the barriers to doing more with my art?
  4. Were those barriers real or did I play a part in making them?
  5. What vital ingredients were missing that would have boosted my artistic success?
  6. When was my most productive artistic period(s) of the year? What were the factors that made the difference?

There you go. Sit yourself down, either on your own or with a friend, and review your 2008. Then, when you turn your thoughts forward to 2009 you’ll have a foundation of knowledge and power to build your dreams for the New Year.

Now, as I haven’t actually conducted my own review just yet, guess what I’ll be doing with my next half hour. I’m not just saying that, by the way. I’ve already organised a joint review with myself, Lynda and my mum doing a round robin of our artistic years.

I wish a happy and successful New Year for you and your art.

How Christmas Can Fire Your Artistic Imagination

One light too many?It’s so easy to shut down the artist in you at this time of year. We box away our artistic imagination, tape the lid shut and leave well alone until Christmas and the New Year are over and done.

Then the majority of us jump on the crazy merry-go-round of shopping, visiting, eating, drinking and partying, and the general joyous giving and receiving that takes over our lives.

The whole festive period tends to become an artistic and creative black hole.

Now that’s what I call a missed opportunity.

Because if you take a step back and really start looking you will see our world and the people in it living in an altered state of being – a kind of collective madness where behaviour, taste, emotions and expectations are dramatically skewed.

If you are from a non-Christian background I’m sure you spotted this a long time back, as have many brought up amid it. So how can this strange time of year inform your art? And no – I’m not suggesting you simply add tinsel.

I have no idea how you personally might use this festive input, and let’s face it – the excesses of the Christmas period are at least as prominent as the joy and goodwill. Your inspiration might well be anything but joyous.

Here are a few ’subjects for observation’ that may fire your artistic imagination.

  • Yourself, your family and friends
  • What you love doing – your favourite bits
  • The stuff you can’t stand: double standards, cynicism and insincerity, for instance
  • The stresses and strains
  • The commercialism
  • The religious messages (whatever your take on them)
  • The curious iconography (Christmas trees and Yule Logs both predate Christianity, for example)
  • The excess and waste (which also predates Christianity)
  • Other people’s perspectives and experiences of Christmas
  • The genuine spirit of goodwill and joy

What you make of this strangest, most beguiling time of year is your choice. But don’t miss the chance to let the festive extravaganza shade your art and your inspiration.

***

For me this is simply the season of goodwill and joy with my family. I’d like to wish you all the joy and goodwill of the season.

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How to Promote Your Art and Sell Your Artwork

How to Sell Your Artwork

You owe it to yourself to make the most of your talent.

Yet so many talented artists – artists producing excellent art – never manage to successfully promote and sell their artwork. Fear, poor organisation and lack of knowledge about how to properly market artwork all play their part.

It really doesn’t have to be that way. If you are fed up and frustrated at not getting yourself or your art noticed and are ready to become a more successful artist then… well, you can. Scary, huh?

A Template for Commercial Artistic Success

Alyson Stanfield’s book, I’d Rather Be In The Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-promotion is the book on the subject. Regular readers of this blog know I don’t go recommending stuff at the drop of the hat. But I reviewed this book some months back and I really do rate it. It’s an amazing template for your commercial artistic success.

Allison currently has a stunning promotion running that at the very least is worth taking a look at.

I’ll come clean and admit that I’ll gain if you buy via this blog – but I will never recommend a product I don’t believe in. I’m very happy to endorse this book.

So, Artists (and friends of artists): start the New Year right with a commitment to promoting your art better than ever–and grab 13 gifts for yourself.

Order a copy of Alyson Stanfield’s book I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion, by December 21 and you’ll get 13 bonus e-books, special reports, and audio programs. All for the price of a single book.

If you’re one of the lucky ones that has had the book on your shelf for awhile now, buy a copy for a friend and keep the bonuses for yourself!

But you have to order from ArtBizCoach.com by midnight ET, December 21.

Just go to the Big Book Sale.

You can see my original review here.

There’s also loads of free stuff at Alyson’s own site artbizcoach.com

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