Monday, April 6, 2009

Motivation Monday

Balance comes from priorities and priorities come from perspective.

This week's topic comes from a comment that Laure Ferlita made in response to the previous post. Laure asked for some thoughts on how to balance it all - being an artist, producing work, being our own marketing person, and being someone who is constantly learning. And as she noted, this was the short list!

Balance is very important because without it, we run the risk of becoming worn out, unproductive, overwhelmed and unmotivated.

The key to balance is to look at all of your goals and tasks and prioritize. Many people are good at goal setting but they are not so good at establishing realistic priorities and achievable time lines. Some people end up working on the goals that they like, for example they know they need to establish a body of work and they like making their art so they spend a lot of their time on this goal, while not spending enough time on other important tasks. Other people tackle all of their goals at once, doing a bit of each regardless of the urgency of individual goals. The result is that artists end up exerting a great deal of effort but they don't have the results they need for that particular time.

So where does perspective come into this? Step back and look at the big picture. How do you perceive yourself and what you are doing? Are you an artist? Would you like to sell your work to the public? Are you a small business owner?... Did I get you on this last question? Here is where your perspective might need to shift. If you are an artist and you intend to sell your work, you need to start thinking of yourself as the owner of a business. This simple paradigm shift in your thinking is what you need in order to enable you to prioritize your goals properly. Shifting your perspective from one in which you are an artist that occasionally, hopefully sells some work to that of someone who owns a business in which art is the product for sale, is the key to obtaining balance.

Many artists resent the time that the business side of things takes. These tasks are many and they eat into our studio time. But they are necessary. If you wish to remain a hobby artist that might sell a piece from time to time, then your priorities are different. But if you truly wish to make a living at your art, you must realize that you are running a business. Imagine owning some sort of business - it could be a coffee bar, a pizzeria, a clothing store, anything...Do you think that you could successfully run these sorts of business without dealing with marketing, customers, advertising, staff, doing things like ordering stock and materials, managing inventory, cleaning the store everyday, etc.? Of course you couldn't. The truth is that you can't run an art business successfully without dedicating a significant amount of time to non-art tasks. Unless you hire an agent to promote you or you have galleries that will sell all of your work, you will need to roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself.

Once you have had the revelation that you are running a business, it makes it easier to prioritize your goals. Which are the tasks that need to be done next in order to run your business successfully? Balance will come once you have defined a manageable lists of goals, along with a realistic time line. It takes time to build a successful business so take a longer view of things. We tend to get out of balance when we have a false sense of urgency, that feeling that everything has to happen at once. Artists often feel pressure to be doing it all. We can become overwhelmed when we are convinced that we need to have a fabulous website, a successful blog, a line of note cards and reproductions, a large body of work consisting of several interesting series, several art shows lined up, art entered into several juried competitions, etc. and we think it has to all happen NOW! These are all worthwhile aspects to running a successful business, but give yourself time to develop them. Determine which tasks are most important and focus on these first. You can work on things concurrently, but don't feel that you need to be doing them all. Relax, breathe.

Next week I will continue with more thoughts on running an art business and how you can remain motivated when doing all of that non-art related stuff...


Laure Ferlita said...

Thanks, Teresa, for your thoughts on balance. I think it helps to hear other perspectives. I feel I'm too myopic on my own situation so this definitely gives it a different take. I'll be checking in for next week's article too!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Laure. I think we all need to try to see our situations from a fresh perspective once in a while. We can all be too myopic from time to time. :-) I will bet that your spouse and friends are amazed at all that you are accomplishing these days. It can be easy for us to just see the endless to do list.

While it is important to do the business stuff that you need to do, if you feel that you are not getting time to do your art, make time. I find this really helps me. If I have a week in which I am doing all sorts of business stuff and perhaps I am getting ready for a new teaching session, I can feel the artist within me starting to rebel. So I carve out some time in the studio. I have found that it doesn't need to be a lot but this art time calms me down. I know that I will get back to the studio very soon and in the meantime I can enjoy these hours that I have managed to sneak in. My version of balance... :-)

Have a great week and thanks for taking the time to write feedback on these posts. I appreciate it.

Janet said...

Enjoyed reading this post, Teresa - wise words! It has made me review my own priorities and time management. I look forward to the follow up post.

Teri C said...

I came over from Laure's Blog in her mention of you.

This commentary is wonderful and beautiful art work.

Kelly said...

I just came from Laure's "Painted Thoughts" blog where she recommended we visit you! I'm glad I did. I like your advice. I will be back when I have time to relax and read everything. Beautiful artwork too...

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Janet, Teri, and Kelly. Welcome to my blog and thanks so much for your kind thoughts. If you are new to Motivation Monday, don't miss the Motivation Monday button on the right hand side bar. By clicking it, you can read all of the Motivation Monday posts!

Laure, thanks so much for the press!

CountryDreaming said...

Awesome topic. This article offers a lot of encouragement as well as pointing out areas to either feel good about as being strengths to build on, or indeed "motivation" when it comes to areas where we (okay, where I) could stand to make some improvement. Balance is good to keep in mind since probably each and every one of us has a favorite aspect when it comes to achieving the goal of being a successful artist, but need to remind ourselves not to neglect the other not-so-glamorous yet still very necessary parts.

andrea said...

That is definitely the short list! (I must go over to Laure's blog as soon as I can but after making dinner for my kids I'm off to jury a local exhibition! :) I must admit that doing the business end is always a struggle for me so any hints are a help. That said, I have done my taxes for this year, though -- always a huge obstacle!

Sheona Hamilton Grant said...

Reading your post came at the perfect time.
A different angle well voiced. Thank you.
As an artist, I have a serious tendency of wanting to juggle everything at the same time and when one ball does fall I feel totally surprised and totally off balance.
My mission today: sit and relax
(Thanks for popping by my blog...allowing me to discover your art world.)
Looking forward to next weeks update.:)

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi CD! You are so right - we have to make sure that we don't neglect the not so glamorous stuff.

Andrea, my taxes are done too, woo hoo! Thanks for stopping by.

Sheona, welcome to my blog. Juggling - that is a great visual image of what we do! :-)