Note to Self
©2015 Helen Conway
Mixed Media Textiles
The Master Class and 2015 Challenges
Once a year I open enrollment for what I call the Master Class – a year long coaching/consulting/support group workshop.
I’ve written about how coaching works and it’s relationship to the master class. Today I want to share another aspect of the workshop.
While much of the focus on the master class is on the individual life and art coaching, there is also a consulting aspect with a monthly group call where every can ask me art biz questions.
Mid way through the 2015 master class one of the participants asked if I could look at everyone’s websites and give some feedback during one of our monthly group consulting call. They had all been saying they wanted to update their websites and thought this would be the perfect way to inspire them to do the work.
I immediately agreed – it seemed like a really good use of our consulting call.
I also knew it needed to be focused on them doing the work prior to the call. So I created a simple worksheet for them to fill out – they evaluated their own websites and figured out the changes they wanted to make before we even talked. For those without websites, it was an opportunity to start thinking about what they wanted from a website.
The call went well, much learning happened.
And from there – the master class challenges were born.
They’ve been a bit ad hoc as I didn’t have a big picture plan for them when the class started but they’ve been a nice addition to the class.
We’ve covered websites, blogs, newsletter and our final challenge will be social media.
Bigger and Better
As I was reformulating the master class for 2016 I wanted to expand on the challenges to be the mechanism providing a solid structure for participants take action.
Master classers are looking for transformation. Coaching is a huge component in making that happen – we focus on dreaming, getting clear, getting unstuck, and making plans during our calls. It makes the work very personal.
But without action, transformation is just a concept. The challenges provide a structure for some of that action (the art biz related things) because often the issue is not really knowing what steps need to be taken.
The 2016 challenges will be step by step checklists of action items to take to build/create/achieve specific goals. They are, of course, highly customizable, because we are individuals.
Essentially I am taking the systems I use to run my own art business and sharing them with my master class students. These isn’t just theory. These checklists work. And they come with lots of references to learn more about each topic.
[Not sure what systems are? They are repeatable steps for things we do in our lives – sort of like habits. I’ve been talking about using systems for our art careers since 2010. This talk I gave in 2010 is a quick introduction to systems.
All challenges are optional AND you can work on them in any order you choose. Whatever you need for your specific career – that is what you work on.
The challenges do not require my feedback. They are systems that you can put in place at any time.
For some participants that might mean you are focusing on your studio most of the time. For others you might focusing more on marketing. Or building your website. Or focusing on health (which has a strong connection to our art).
The challenges are also quite complex and comprehensive – they all cover more material than anyone can do in a single month. If you are focused on your art the studio challenge could keep you occupied for months.
With the individual coaching call, you learn to tailor your work to your values and dreams. You work on the challenges that fit your dreams and leave the others on the table for another time (or never.)
The 2016 Challenge Topics
While the challenge are always available to provide structure, each month I will provide feedback on a specific topic during our consulting call. Why?
Because we love deadlines. Yes – you can do the challenges at any time and create your art biz with these systems. AND by having a deadline it can help you do some work you’ve been procrastinating on.
Every challenge is optional so there is no pressure to participate. And even if you don’t, there is much learning that happens during the consulting calls.
Here is the tentative schedule of topics for 2016:
March – I’ve Got a Plan
– Time Management
– Operations Manual
May – My Art and Studio
April – My Health and My Support Crew
June – My Foundation – The Art Artifacts
– Art inventory
– Artist statement
– Business cards
July – Sharing My Art – Building a Foundation
– Purpose / Big Picture
– Mailing Lists
– Editorial Calendar
August – My Beautiful World
September – Sharing My Art – Website
October – Exhibits and Sales
November – Sharing My Art – Newsletter
December – My Money and Other Numbers
January – Sharing My Art – Blogging
February – Sharing My Art – Social Media
Helen has been in the master class for a few years. Here are some of her thoughts on the experience:
“If you want your art career to take off, participation in the Masterclass is like you being a pilot of your life with air traffic control and a supportive cabin crew working alongside you.
If you are at the very beginning of your art journey, maybe not even sure where you are heading, Lisa as coach will help you prepare your flight plan, set your goals, find your guiding core values. Each coaching call helps you take the next step from ‘ chocks away’ to the gentle taxi to the runway and the gathering of speed as you open up the throttle.
You put in all the work, but Lisa acts like a traffic controller helping you find a clear route and allowing you to see and avoid obstacles. Then you remain accountable to her checking in as you need to keep you on course.
The individual calls to Lisa in ‘the tower’ are personal and tailored to the destination you set for yourself.
The class calls and material are like generalised information for all artist-pilots equipping you to fly high and safely.
And you are not flying solo but are supported by a close community of others all working in their own way to take off in their own art careers. There is daily support, sharing and socialising via the Facebook group. For classmates who left after the first year that has continued on a more occasional level on an alumnus group.
When you reach your first destination the process can be repeated, stopping you crash landing but rather guiding you to refuel and regathering and take off again for even more exotic climes.
In the two years I have been in the Masterclass I have been supported and equipped to go from wanting to be an artist to being taken on by a gallery for my first solo show. I have learned about the business of being a professional artist and I have been aided to overcome significant obstacles. I cannot now countenance being without a coach and my classmates. “
~Helen Conway, UK
Do you have on operations manual for you business?
Enrollment is now open for the 2016 master class (through end of February – or until it is full).