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          How to Prepare for a More Productive, More Artistic Year

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          Are you looking forward to a more creative and productive year ahead with your art? The first step is getting organized! Here are some ideas to help you make more and improve your skills this year.

          1. Develop an art habit

          Making art a habit is easier said than done, but you're more likely to be successful if you tie a new behavior to something you already do.

          • Replace social media time with art exploration time. Try reading books, rather than exploring online.
          • Sketch with your morning coffee or during lunch break at work.
          • Reward yourself at the end of a busy day with studio time (instead of dessert — a win-win!)
          • Commit to spending a specific amount of time in your creative space three, four or five days a week. Even if you just clean or organize, being in that environment regularly is the best guarantee that you will establish a creative practice.

          Related: 6 Proven Ways to Make Art a Daily Habit

          2. Make space

          If you have an actual studio, that’s awesome. If not, carve out a space for art or create the essence of a dedicated space by setting aside dedicated time. Here are some tips for crafting your own artistic area:

          • Gather your essential supplies and keep them accessible.
          • Schedule time to create and let family and friends know it’s sacrosanct. If you had to study for your MBA, no one would question it ! Think of your art practice as working toward an advanced degree.
          • Be creative about your time and space. Some plein air artists do “car window sketches” in the winter!

          3. Push yourself to get better

          Making art is risky business. You know your work will be seen and assessed by family, friends or the larger public and that can feel daunting. We artists can get stuck in our own little “comfort zone.” It’s more comfortable to keep doing the things that have felt successful in the past. But, if you want to exceed beyond current accomplishments, you kinda, have to do something more.

          • Challenge yourself with a new subject or media. It can be scary ( portraits , anyone?) but it will help you see differently.
          • Take a class in something new or push yourself further in an area you enjoy. Classes also ensure that you will have scheduled art time.
          • Workshops are a full-on immersion in art that will have you thinking artistically all day. It’s a wonderful experience, and that art-filled thought-process continues long after.
          • Develop creative camaraderie. Get together with other artists to discuss your local art scene or solicit critiques. Online courses also provide a sense of community with feedback and interaction.
          • Listen to podcasts or interviews with artists who share their methods and struggles. John Dalton’s Gently Does It and Your Creative Push are two excellent sources of information and inspiration.

          4. Make art your business

          Do you dream of turning your hobby into a source of income? Take the first steps to becoming a professional artist with these tips:

          • Create a website or improve (and certainly maintain) your site. This is essential if you want to sell artwork.
          • Order updated business cards or postcards — and use them!
          • Establish a database for your artwork. A simple spreadsheet or table can work, but you can find software specifically for artists that tracks where your work has been exhibited; what is available, sold or consigned; names of collectors and more. There are many at a variety of price points. GYST-ink.com is intuitive, reasonable and sufficient for my needs.
          • Use social media for news, exposure and as a resource. There are savvy artists out there willing to share their experiences. And schedule social media time so you don't get dragged into the web!

          5. List your creative intentions and schedule actions

          Becoming a more successful artist doesn’t happen by accident. Beyond talent, it takes planning and practice. Don’t try to change everything, but do change some things. After all, if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results. Take your artistry to a new level this year by setting intentions and working toward specific goals.

          • Keep a calendar of opportunities and deadlines.
          • Join a new arts organization and plan the exhibits that you will enter.
          • Decide which changes you can reasonably take on and be methodical about reaching them.
          • Prioritize what seems most important for improving your art practice.
          • Create work toward a specific goal: a one-person show , an open studio event, a local art fair. Track your progress in building inventory for that date.
          Becoming a more successful artist doesn't happen by accident. In addition to talent, it takes planning and practice. Don't try to change everything, but do change some things. After all, if you keep doing the same thing, you'll keep getting the same results. Take your artistry to a new level this year by setting intentions and working toward specific goals.
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          How to Prepare for a More Productive, More Artistic Year