8 Big Benefits of Blogging for Your Art Career

Writing -> Best Use of Art Biz Time

This week I shared the evolution of my artist statement on my artist blog.

One of my observations on this process:

I am a better writer today than I was 10 years ago. I attribute this 100% to my blogging. I believe that writing about my art every week for my blog is the #1 best use of my art business/office time. Getting better at writing my artist statement is just one of many benefits. Look for an article on makebigart.com on the benefits of blogging soon.

Many people have written about the benefits of blogging. Here is my take. It’s about thinking big about your art and your marketing.

1. Sharing Authentically in Print

Sharing our inner thoughts isn’t something that we all come to naturally. The artist statement I mentioned above is for a series of work that explores the emotional barriers we use to keep people out. It feels safe to not let people too close.

Yet there are big benefits in writing about what really matters to you. Your writing is authentic. You connect with your reader on a deeper level and that connection is the start of a relationship with a supporter interested in you and your art.

This can lead to sales, articles written about your art, gallery representation, exhibits, etc. All of these and more have resulted from my 6 years of writing authentically about my art.

2. Sharing Authentically in Person

Learning to share authentically via your blog can feed into your ability to also speak about your art. Writing about the art is practice for talking about the art.

Once you have the words down in black and white, you are less likely to be at a loss for words when speaking.

The thought of giving an artist talk was terrifying for me until I started writing about my art. Now I love giving artists talks and sharing my thoughts on my art in person. Standing up in front of a group is still scary, but at least I know I have the right words to describe what I am thinking.

3. Promotes Growth

Creating art is an evolutionary process. Usually you don’t have all the answers upfront.

Through the self reflection gained in writing about your art, you gain a greater insight into what motivates and inspires your creativity. This leads to growth as you are then able to go deeper into your subject matter.

The evolution of my artist statement shared above is an example of this evolution. Many of those deeper insights came about as a result of writing about my art on my blog.

4. Give People Words to Talk about Your Art

Writing a blog gives people words to use to describe your artwork and to talk intelligently about your processes. Your work is now much less intimidating and they are much more likely to share it with someone else.

This is extremely valuable for helping art consultants, your gallerists and the press write about your art. Providing them with the phrases and vocabulary for your art makes their jobs much easier. You are likely to get more articles written about your work if you make it easy for someone to write about you.

5. Establish Yourself as an the Artist You Want To Be

Are you a serious artist? Are you funny? Are you approachable?

By writing a blog, you can establish yourself as the artist you want to be. Helpful, knowledgeable, educated, motivated, etc. Pick any words you like. Now establish yourself as the person you want to be by writing from that frame of mind.

This is where you get to think big and then become the authority you know you are.

6. Marketing

Writing about your art and what informs it; sharing photos of your art, inspiration, studio and processes: this is art marketing.

It is often said that collectors buys the artist as much as they buy the art. You have to share who you are for many people to want to purchase your art. Blogging allows you to do this with an international market.

As a bonus, blogging provides you with instant and easy SEO (search engine optimization – ie. showing up in google at the top). Using keywords and phrases is a key part of SEO and writing about your art is a natural way to associate your art with the phrases that best describe your art.

7. Community

Yes facebook also provides a community, but I feel that the community I have created in the blogging world is more substantial. We are writing and sharing on a much deeper level. It takes more time and thought to write a blog post, so I get a more authentic view into the writer’s world.

8. Helping and Teaching Others

Many artists want to contribute to their community. Blogging is an excellent way to do that. MakeBigArt is an example of exactly that.

How do you want to contribute? Think big – and then just go do it.

Wrap Up

One of the beauties of blogging is you don’t have to ask for permission to jump in. It’s free and it’s for everyone that would like to write.

How has blogging benefited your art career?

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

 
PS. I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 

How to tell your website visitors you also teach

Lectures and Workshops and More

Recently I started teaching online art workshops and wanted to include the information on my website without detraction from my artwork.

I decided to create a new tab at the top of my page and label it Learn From Me.

Under this heading I am listing my in-person and online workshops, lectures I offer, and articles I’ve written that are helpful to other artists (both on my blog and published else where).

This creates a nice resource for my visitors but keeps it in 1 corner of the website, so I can focus on presenting my artwork on the rest of the website.

Wrap Up

Do you teach? How do you present it on your website?

(You are more than welcome to grab the phrase Learn From Me if desired.)

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Email Newsletters – How Frequently and When Should You Send?

Email Newsletter Articles

Upcoming topics: formatting and templates, testing, content (what should you say), receiving newsletters (take control of your inbox), and more

Frequency

How often should you write and send an newsletter? As often as you have news to share.

If you have nothing to say, probably best not to bore your readers. Solution: get to your studio and do something.

For most artists, once a month or once a quarter seems to be about when we having something new to say. I know a few artists that send out bimonthly and even a few weekly newsletters.

There are no rules.

The Common Concern

If I send out a newsletter too often, I will annoy my readers.

I worried about this when I changed my quarterly newsletter into a monthly newsletter. I was sure dozens of people would unsubscribe and everyone would be unhappy.

Didn’t happen. Maybe 2 or 3 people dropped, but always more people join than those that drop so I have a steadily increasing readership.

As long as you have something interesting to say, write the newsletter and trust that your people want to hear from you.

Is it possible to send out too frequent of a newsletter? Probably. Depends on your readers and your newsletter. Once a week would be a challenge to make interesting but depending on your studio practice, it could be entirely reasonable.

Sending a newsletter only a few times a year probably isn’t enough for your fans to remember who you are.

Schedule

One of the goals of a newsletter is to keep your name and your artwork in the forefront of our fans’ minds.

One way to do that is to set an expectation on when your newsletter will be delivered. Thursday at 10am or the 3rd tuesday of the month, etc.

When I started my newsletter it was sent “whenever I could get around to it” and I had a hard time keeping to any type of schedule. Now that I have more experience, I’m able to stay on a predictable time line and I email it on the 3rd wednesday of the month.

I find that the in addition to providing a repeatable experience for my readers, the schedule helps to stay on track and committed. Otherwise it’s too easy to say, “I’ll send it next week instead”, and then suddenly 5 weeks later realize I didn’t write and send the newsletter.

Best Time to Send

One of the most popular questions. You can research the answer yourself on google.

Although to summarize, generally tuesday or wednesday are recommended. Monday and Friday are less successful. It’s all related to the work week.

Wrap Up

We have shorter attention spans these days as there is always something new coming out. Don’t get forgotten by not sending frequently enough. Think big, write big, and believe that your fans want to hear from you.

How frequently do you send your newsletter? Do you use a schedule?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Email Newsletters – Selecting Automated Mailing List Software

Email Newsletter Articles

Upcoming topics: frequency and schedules, formatting and templates, testing, content (what should you say), receiving newsletters (take control of your inbox), and more

Software

Once you decide you want to send out an email newsletter for your artwork, one of the first questions you have to answer is “what software will I use to do this?”

As a software engineer, I would suggest that before selecting software, that you first make sure you understand what you are looking for. Just because a friend is using Super-Duper-Newsletter-Software, doesn’t mean it right for you.

A few questions to consider:
1) what do you need the software to do (these are your requirements)
2) how technical you are
3) how frequently will you be emailing
4) do you have other special needs (such as auto responders or support for multiple mailing lists or sublists or the need to import and export your mailing list)

For most artists the answer to these questions are about the same:

1) Requirements – I would like the software to do these things:
a) provide a way for people to easily subscribe and unsubscribe from the newsletter
b) provide a way to email out the newsletter so the recipient receives it (if the newsletter gets marked as spam, they won’t get it)
c) be easy to use
d) provide me with statistics on how many people read the newsletter
e) not be too expensive
f) provide support if I can’t figure out how the software works
g) your specific needs go here

2) How technical am I?
Only you can decide this

3) Frequency
Quarterly or Monthly or somewhere in that range is the most likely answer, although your needs might be different.

Research

Once you know what you need your software to do, it’s time for research. Google and your friends can supply you with a list of options.

Some of the most common choices for mailing list software:

1) Constant Contact – a leader in email marketing, well known brand, monthly plans
2) Mail Chimp – pay as you go or monthly plans, often free for typical artist’s needs
3) Vertical Response – pay as you go or monthly plans

In addition there are solutions you can install on your own webserver for those that answered “very” to question #2, ie these are the solutions for the tech geeks. These are not recommended if you don’t have a technical background:

1) php list – open source, lots of plugins, free
2) infinite responder – free, auto responders, claims to be simpler than php list

Have super big requirements? Need to integrate a shopping cart with your mailing list and have lots of autoresponders and an affiliates program (very very few artists will have these needs) some options for such big plans:

1) 1ShoppingCart
2) 1automationwiz

Ease of Use

While price and features are important, this is software you will be interacting with on a monthly or quarterly basis. It’s important you understand how to use it efficiently.

Most artists needs in mailing list software are pretty simple, so pretty all of the choices will fit your needs. Making ease of use an important factor.

I recommend signing up for a free trial at a couple of these and look them over.

It probably won’t take you long to figure out if you understand how to use the software. If you get stuck, look into their support forums, can you find answers to your questions?

With a little research and a list of requirements, you can usually pick your software fairly easily.

Feeling panicky or stuck? Just pick something and go with it. Make a decision and move forward. Spend just an hour or 2 making a decision at the most as you can change your mind very easily later on. Mailing list data is easily exported and imported into different software (although if you think you might switch, confirm the software allows you to export the list. The usual format for this export will be a csv file).

I currently use php list for my studio newsletter and so I don’t have first hand experience with the paid services. Again, I only recommend this option for those that are more technical, as it isn’t the easiest to install, its a challenge to upgrade, and its not the most intuitive to use either. I’m considering switching to infinite responder but haven’t researched it yet.

Why Can’t I Just Use Regular Email?

You can, but I don’t recommend it. If you go this route here are some things to consider:

1) You will need to manage the list of email addresses yourself. You either have to have people email you to subscribe or provide your own form for people to join up, and then manually maintain that list.

Same for unsubscribe, people have to email you to unsubscribe.

There is free software by arial that will help with subscriptions, but for unsubscribe, you are on your own. To send email with this option, you download the list of email address to use as needed, they do not provide mailing software, just software to help you gather up the list of addresses.

2) You have to send email using regular email. This may not seem like a big deal but please keep in mind that you should never put the email addresses on the To or CC line. People get very unhappy when other people can see their email address. Privacy is important.

Your options? Send emails one at a time or put the emails on the BCC line (blind carbon copy). The problem with the BCC lines is that email with large BCC lines are marked as spam, so the recipient might never see the email.

3) This is not thinking BIG. I believe in making decisions from where I want to be, not where I am at the moment. At the moment it might seem like you will only have 20 or 30 people on your list, so there is no reason to get fancy with automated software.

But what about in 2 years when your art really takes off and you’ve now got 500 people on your list. Can you still maintain that manually?

Where are you going? Play that game. The BIG one.

Wrap Up

Think Big – set up some automated software to help you email your newsletter professionally.

Do you have experience with automated mailing list software? Recommendations? Please share below.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Make Big Plans

Big Plans

Seth Godin has an excellent post on his blog today that I want to quickly share. It is so simple and yet so true.

Make Big Plans …that’s the best way to make big things happen.

Is there any doubt that making big plans increases the chances that something great will happen?

Read the entire (very short) article here.

(in the next few days I’ll post my next article about newsletters)

Wrap Up

Have you written down your big plans for your art? Your art career? Your life?

If not – why not?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Email Newsletters – Permission Based Marketing

Newsletters

It’s time for a series of posts on email newsletters.

Artists are often told they need to have one and I agree they can be very valuable tools to get your artwork and big ideas out into the world so I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions about artist newsletters over the next few weeks.

Permission Based Marketing

Permission Based Marketing is a term coined by Seth Godin and simply put means: never put anyone on your email mailing list unless they gave you explicit permission to do so.

This doesn’t mean you met them at a party and they gave you a business card. Nope – that person did not give you permission to send them your newsletter.

This doesn’t mean all your relatives and artist friends that you’ve known for years, so of course, they won’t mind. Nope – they might mind. So don’t put them on there unless you ask them first.

This doesn’t mean the person that sent you email saying they liked your artwork. Nope – they just like your art – maybe they don’t like your writing – let them decide.

Definitely tell these folks about the newsletter, but then leave it to them to subscribe if interested.

Permission based marketing means the only people that go on your list are the people that understand that if they sign up, they will be getting email from you about your artwork on a regular basis.

Targeted List

The purpose of permission based marketing, beyond not annoying people with unwanted emails, is that your list becomes a targeted list of people that have clearly stated they care what you have to say.

Instead of shouting to thousands, who might potentially be interested, you are engaged in a more personal conversation with those that are truly interested.

When I started my newsletter mailing list, I wanted to do the permission based marketing so I didn’t add anyone I knew. I didn’t even email them and tell them I was starting a list. It was pretty scary because I worried noone would care and noone would signup.

I let people know about my upcoming newsletter by writing about it on my blog. I ended up writing about it for a year before I sent my first newsletter as it took me quite a while to figure out what to say in my newsletter.

By the time I sent my first newsletter in 2008, I had over 200 people on my mailing list. People that asked me to send them email, that were welcoming me into their inbox. I attracted that targeted group of people by providing quality content on my blog and creating artwork that appealed to my fans.

Abundance

To this day some of my closest friends are still not on my mailing list. A fairly significant number of my collectors aren’t on the list either.

This used to bother me, I’d think I should tell them to sign up, or make an exception to my permission based marketing ideals. But slowly I got over it and no longer feel I should add them.

I find that if I trust in abundance, that my list grows faster than if I get all wound up about who is and is not on my mailing list. It’s about thinking BIG and knowing, trusting, that the people that need to be on your list, are on your list.

It’s also about providing great content so you attract those people and that once there, they remain on the list.

Less than 3 years after sending my first newsletter, I now have over 700 subscribers to my studio newsletter. Each of them has subscribed to the list by choice.

The Unread and Unwanted

Say you do add a bunch of friends and family to your mailing list because permission based marketing isn’t for you.

No doubt many of them will be thrilled to hear from you and embrace the newsletter.

What about the rest? You’ve now put them in a difficult position, some people are very picky about their email inboxes. If they unsubscribed, they know they will hurt your feelings. So are they just stuck with the newsletter? Probably.

But chances are they won’t read it if they don’t want it. That’s why we have delete buttons.

All those folks on your list that don’t want to be there, but feel stuck, yep, they are probably not reading it. So what is the point of sending it to them in the first place?

Respect your friendships and relationships and stick with permission based marketing.

Wrap Up

Think Big – trust that your message will reach your target market and embrace permission based marketing for your email newsletter.
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Work for Yourself and Let Your Friends Know

Help Your Friends Find Your Art

Do you have the new facebook profile?

Do you have a facebook fanpage (or like page or community page or whatever you want to call it) for your artwork?

With the new profiles on facebook, there is an opportunity to promote your fanpage from your profile, by setting it as your employer.

On my profile page, shown below, if I click on Lisa Call – Textile Art in my profile (circled in red), it will bring up my fan page.

 
When I checked a bunch of my artist and entrepreneur type friends, they had a similar job appear on their profile (artist or owner at Their Company Name), but when I clicked on the company name link it brought up an empty community page and not their fan page. Not very useful.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Go to your fanpage. Find the name of your page (see below circled in red). Mine is Lisa Call – Textile Paintings. Remember exactly what it says.

[Or make this easier Copy the text: you do this by first highlighting the text with your mouse and then in windows: type + C, or with mac: type + C].

 
 

2. Go to your profile. Click on edit profile (in box in red below):

 
 

3. Select Education and Work (see in red below):

 
 

4. In the box for employer name (see in red below), type in the name of your fan page exactly as it was on your fan page.

[Or if you copied the text you can now paste it: in windows: type + V, or with mac: type + S].

 
 

5. Then hit enter. Facebook should then find your fan page and give you some boxes to add in the rest of your employment information. Give yourself a title, add in anything else you’d like, then click Add Job.

You can tell facebook found your page because the image from your page will appear above the info box.

 
 

6. View your profile and test out the link.

Note that only the top most of your “jobs” will appear on your wall so make sure to add this entry last.

Also note that even if you didn’t switch to the new profile, all of us that did – we see your profile in the new format.

Wrap Up

This change takes only a few minutes and adds a link to your artwork for all your friends to see.

All those old high school classmates would love to see your artwork. Think big and share it with them.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Shipping Simplified with a System

A System

Ask an artist how they feel about packaging and shipping their artwork for exhibits and sales. Chances are the response won’t be a positive one.

This is one part of being an artist that most of us are not very fond of. It’s time consuming and it’s expensive.

This past year I’ve implemented systems across my art business to make it runner smoother. The packaging and shipping event, while still not my favorite part of being an artist, is now much simpler.

I have a written packaging and shipping process with step by step directions to follow, from purchasing supplies, to pricing shipping for customers, to packing steps, to shipping details. This means if a few months go by without shipping, I don’t have to remember the details.

Although the true purpose of the written system is that at any time I can hire someone to do the job for me.

The time when this will happen is when I will be busy, and I won’t have time to teach someone how to do the shipping. As a result, I might hold off hiring someone because I don’t have time to teach them. By building the system up front, I have it ready when it will be needed. Handing it over to someone new will be simple.

As a bonus, if you believe in the law of attraction, having this system in place and planning on hiring someone to use it, will bring about the need to do just that. I know I’m going to have so many sales and exhibits, I’m going to need help with shipping very soon.

Supplies

I need more space than a single blog post to go into the entire system but I believe the 1 thing in the system that has made my process less stressful is that I always have all the supplies I need on hand at all times.

Prior to this year, when I needed to ship artwork to a collector I had to scrounge around to find a box to recycle. Often I couldn’t find one so I’d have to buy one, which is an expensive when buying just 1 at a time. This lack of materials caused stress and I have no doubt some of the packages appeared quite unprofessional.

I needed to have supplies on hand so sales were a joyous event, with no stress. So I wrote down all of my requirements for containers such as:

1) Purpose: I ship to exhibits and to collectors – each has unique requirements – 1 needs reusable containers; the other needs professional, beautiful packaging.

2) Shape: The majority of my artwork is shipped rolled, in tubes of varying lengths. Smaller textile paintings are mounted on stretch canvas and are shipped flat.

3) Size: My artwork varies greatly in size from 3″ square to nearly 8 feet square.

Based on the above information, I was able to identify a handful of box sizes that I could use for shipping all my artwork as needed. Spending time to write it down and sort through the information helped to clarify that it wasn’t nearly as complicated as it felt.

I now keep every box size I use in stock in my basement. When I sell artwork, it takes just a few minutes to package it up. While maybe not as fun as making art, it’s easy.

Suppliers

These are the suppliers I use for my packaging needs:

  • Yazoomills: reusuable shipping tubes. I purchased tubes from them 15+ years ago and am still using them to ship my textile paintings to exhibits. The heavy duty ones are nearly indestructible and well worth the cost. It costs a bit more to ship with the heavier tubes but my artwork is worth the protection.
  • Uline: boxes for shipping artwork to collectors. These folks have pretty much any size box you might need at good prices. They’ve got tape and other packing supplies like bubble wrap also./li>
  • Clearbags: protective clear bags for artwork. Zillions of sizes for just about any size of artwork. They have other clever containers that can be used to create a professional presentation of your art for your collectors.
  • Home Depot: I use water pipe insulation tubes from the hardware store to roll my textile paintings onto before placing them into tubes for shipping. They are lighter than cardboard and cheaper than the foam swim noodles that many people use.
  • Office Depot: with their ubiquitous coupons, I find their packaging tape and sharpie markers to be very competitively priced.
  • United States Postal Service: Free boxes (I mostly use the flat rate boxes) for priority shipping. I use this most when shipping fabric to buyers and when the buyer requests priority shipping. I keep a supply of all sizes on hand, which I pick up when I’m at the post office.

Online Shipping

Another tip is to set up online accounts with your preferred shipper so you don’t have to stand inline at the shipping office. There is usually a discount for doing this also.

If you ship internationally through the US post office, you will often not be able to avoid that event but I keep the duty forms on hand so I can fill them out at home.

Instead of going to the main post office where lines are long and slow, I got to a near by hardware store with a postal substation instead. I try to go at off hours and rarely are there more than 2 or 3 people in line.

Wrap Up

If you need to ship your artwork out to the world, think big by being prepared for the event by having supplies on hand and a system in place to help the process go smoother. Then you can get back to the studio and make more art sooner.

Please share you shipping tips or packaging suppliers in the comments below.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

More on the Incomplete Project List

Completion

This article is the 4th in a series related to completion:

1. The Magic of Completion
2. A Quest for Completion – introducing a plan on how to get there
3. Creating an Incomplete Project List – it was harder than expected
4. More on the Incomplete Project List – categorizing, prioritizing and more – this post

More to come as I work through my plan for tackling my incomplete projects

1. Create a list of incomplete projects (spending about a week to do this)
2. Categorize them – complete vs. let go (I might have a “I’ll revisit this in a year” pile also but maybe not – I like to be clear and make decisions as it gives me momentum.)
3. Create and hold some type of ritual to let go of the projects that don’t make the cut.
4. Prioritize the projects I do want to complete
5. Work through the incomplete projects one at a time as the year goes by
6. Celebrate each completion

7. Repeat as needed when I feel my energy being drained – complete completion isn’t something I believe I will ever achieve, instead I think it is a process to be enjoyed (hence the celebration step).

The Backlog

In my day job, I work as a project manager for a large software team. To keep track of all of the work the team needs to complete, we create a long list of things that need done. This long list of things is called the backlog. It’s a todo list.

When the team finishes up their current work, they go to the backlog and get the next thing to do off of the list. Which indicates this list of items is kept in priority order, the most important thing at the top of the list.

The incomplete project list that I created the last few weeks for my art business is essentially part of my backlog – all the stuff I need to do for my art business. (The other part of my backlog for my art business are all the future projects I want to complete.)

I’ve made a decision to prioritize the unfinished projects at the top of my to do list for my art business and life. The goal being achieving some completion as too many projects have gone unfinished the last few years).

Categorize

This week I went through my unfinished project list and categorized the incomplete projects. The choices were

1) complete this year
2) complete next year
3) toss it and forget about it
4) put it on my future project list and worry about it later

You can see my categorized list here: Incomplete Project List.

It was a fairly simple task to categorize this list. I had a pretty good idea of what I did and did not want to complete.

There was 1 item that required a bit more work, and that was dealing with my draft blog posts. I had to look through them all and decide which ones were worth keeping and which I could toss.

Most didn’t have much meat to them so I tossed them and added the topic to my ongoing blog post ideas list (which I maintain on tadalists.com as it is accessible anytime I’m online).

Prioritize

After deciding which projects I wanted to complete, I put them in priority order. So when it comes time to work on a some new art or a home project, I can just go to the list and take the first item from the top.

When prioritizing these items I considered several things:

1) Duration – How long will it take to complete. Putting a few of the quicker items at the top of the list makes for some fast completion and sets up good momentum.

2) The business value. Doing the most valuable things first is usually a good idea, leaving the less important stuff for later.

3) Resources required. Some times the resources required to complete a project aren’t yet ready. For example my come as you will be party requires that I have some landscaping in my yard and more importantly, a sidewalk up to my front door, before I throw the party. So this is put fairly low down my list as it will take a while for the landscaping to be completed.

Using my Incomplete Project List

In many time management disciplines, it is recommended that a single list to kept for all outstanding projects. I don’t do this. I like to organize my list into multiple lists as creating art isn’t the same thing as working on my house.

If I put those items on a single list and tried to prioritize them, I’d personally find it near impossible, as it is like comparing apples to oranges.

I make time each week for art, art business, personal and my home. I keep a separate todo list for each of these areas so when I complete a project in one area I can move on to the next item on that list. When I complete a piece of art, I don’t want to move on to organizing my basement, I want to make more art.

By having 1 project (and at most 2 projects) current in each of these areas, I can maintain some balance in the different areas of my life.

Not that each project will get equal attention at all times, but having something to work on in each area allows me to move each forward at a speed that is appropriate at that time.

For example, my current project list at the moment is:

Art: create new artwork to enter into a big international juried show
Art Business: planning for the fall and entering fall juried shows
Home: Landscaping my yard
Personal: Helping my son prepare to leave for college

At the moment the last item on the list is getting most of my attention, as my son leaves in just a few more days. Much shopping, packing, talking and soaking in as much time with him as possible is my priority. Once he his gone I’ll turn my attention to the other areas and a new project (the one at the top of my unfinished project list for personal).

Wrap Up

How do you manage your backlog of items you want to complete? Do you even have a list?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Creating an Incomplete Project List

Completion Quest

In my last post, I wrote about my desire to wrap up some loose ends from the last few years. Things that drain my energy every time I think about them not being finished. It’s my quest for completion.

This is my plan for tackling my incomplete projects

1. Create a list of incomplete projects (spending about a week to do this)
2. Categorize them – complete vs. let go (I might have a “I’ll revisit this in a year” pile also but maybe not – I like to be clear and make decisions as it gives me momentum.)
3. Create and hold some type of ritual to let go of the projects that don’t make the cut.
4. Prioritize the projects I do want to complete
5. Work through the incomplete projects one at a time as the year goes by
6. Celebrate each completion

7. Repeat as needed when I feel my energy being drained – complete completion isn’t something I believe I will ever achieve, instead I think it is a process to be enjoyed (hence the celebration step).

What is an Incomplete Project?

I figured step 1 would be easy given all of the todo lists I have made in my life.

Turns out it wasn’t that simple. I started to ponder “what exactly was an incomplete project?”

  • Is fixing the headlight on my car an incomplete project or is it just an errand I’ve put off for a while?
  • What about all those projects I want to do, have thought about, but haven’t really started yet – do they count?
  • What about things I’m actively working on now but haven’t yet finished? Should I list them?

Clearly I was procrastinating and seriously over thinking this list. It’s just a list, whatever I put there and get finished will be excellent and move me forward.

Yet those questions still nagged at me, so I decided to answer them for myself.

  • I grouped all the little things (like making copies of my car key) into Overdue Errands and list them as a single item. I didn’t want to clutter the list with small items.
  • I only listed projects that I made a substantial start on. I started a different list for future projects I want to do. My goal is to finish some older projects so I have the space and energy to start new things. If I put new projects on the list I figured I’d just end up with a longer list of unfinished things to do.
  • I didn’t list projects I’m actively working on – such as the long todo list to get my son ready for college, or landscaping my yard. I already include these things in my daily and weekly activities and I know they will get done. If not I’ll add them to the list later.

Order

After sorting through these thoughts and defining what I meant by incomplete project, it was a lot easier to make my list. Took just a few days.

I suspect not everyone would need such clarification to make a todo list, but for me it really helped. Artists are stereotypically free spirited and this sort of exercise definitely doesn’t fit into that personality. Such folks probably would never think to make an incomplete project list.

I used to think I wasn’t an artist because of my organization skills. I’m good at, I like order. I like clean, spare rooms. Disorganization and clutter don’t work for me. Even when it comes down to an unfinished project list.

I’ve gotten over thinking I should be more like the stereotype. I’m an artist – and I like order. And over the last 5 1/2 years of blogging, I’ve met a lot of artists with similar mindsets.

Next Step

My list of incomplete projects is here: Projects to Complete.

Next up, I will categorize and prioritize the list.

In the meantime I’ve been tackling that long list of errands and the piles of paper in my office is slowly diminishing. As the paper is filed, processed, tossed – the office feels lighter and full of great energy. I love it!

Wrap Up

What projects do you want to finish up this year?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art