I should be clear. Getting to this point where I feel comfortable even admitting to myself that I am an artist and what I want is to do is make a living with art, took 33 years. Well, I suppose it was there long ago, but gradually got squashed. In fact it was just the other day that I finally said the words, “I want to be an illustrator,” to myself when considering what kind of work I should look for in the next year. It had been a foggy, amorphous idea floating around for so long. I didn’t want to utter it aloud for fear of the disappointment of it’s sure impossibility. In Jackie Battenfield’s, The Artist’s Guide, How to make a living doing what you love, I read a quote from Morgan O’Hara:
Listen to what you are telling yourself. Accept who you are.
There are so many reasons to ignore ourselves and reject who we are. But it’s painful, a little bit, every day. We get attached to ideas of how much money we need to make, how we don’t have the right experience, how our personality should be, how much easier it could be if we just felt differently. We can decide to find happiness in our circumstances and choices, through acceptance. And we can also accept that we are happiest under certain conditions- then make choices to put ourselves there more often. Acceptance doesn’t mean happily sitting on a busy sidewalk watching everyone else go about their business. I’m aiming for active acceptance.
What am I talking about? I’m probably going to quit this too.
No, I’m not.
It’s real simple. Set goals, decide on tasks, do tasks, achieve goals.
I recently bought Lisa Congdon’s book, Art Inc. and read it cover to cover. I’ll say it was inspiring and informative and the reason I am writing this now. I read this in her book, and many other places too: You want to succeed? You must commit. Set goals, decide on tasks, carry them out, whittle big, scary goals down to do-able pieces of work. It’s logical and not particularly innovative, but making a plan can be a significant hurdle. Trying is hard and the fear of failure is paralyzing. If you don’t plan, you avoid taking the first step into the unknown. So, here goes the left foot…
Vision: Create a viable art career for myself.
Specific short-term goals:
- Create a website by end of January (done!)
- Enter local craft show by March
- Get showing of my art in local public place by April
- Make $250 in Etsy sales per month in March – May
- Get 3 freelance illustration jobs by September
A goal made it onto the list if it was SMART.
- Specific – Identify the who, what, when, where, and why.
- Measurable – Can you easily determine when it has been achieved?
- Attainable- Is it possible?
- Realistic – Can I do it, considering my other obligations?*
- Timely – Set a due date.
I have so many tasks I won’t list them. Instead, I’ll address them as I go.
… right foot…
*At first, Attainable and Realistic seemed the same, but I think there’s an important distinction. Attainability addresses possibility. Many things are attainable: I could travel the world alone for the next 12 months. Realism factors in decisions you’ve already made: I am committed to being a decent, present parent to my two boys. Long term independent travel is not realistic for a mother of small kids.