Last weekend, a group of friends and I went to a cabin in Sonora and had the world's best time. All of these friends are artists or creative so we spent a lot of time around the table painting, drawing and coloring. We listened to records, watched a scary movie in a rainstorm, spied on deer wandering all around the neighborhood and played in the snow for a bit. I can't tell you how much these people inspire me and how lucky I am to have such good friends.
These last few weeks I feel like I've found a really good groove. I have been working super hard getting ready for the holiday season and putting my nose to the grind to make things happen. I'm getting much better at knowing what's the next most important thing to do and everything feels very natural lately.
Learning and unlearning have been themes in my life lately. It's so important to improve and get better at what you do. With art I think the main way to do this is to simply work. This means getting things done and experimenting, be it your art or your accounting. I also think unlearning is a HUGE thing. Creatives often overeducate on the excessive amount of information out there. I know I have spent time on blogs, listening to podcasts and reading books to gain knowledge on running a business, productivity, etc., but when I cut myself off from a lot of it, that's when things start to get on track and where I want to go. It works best when I take risks and try things out, not looking at others' advice or strategies. In my seeking of more information, I have found you are often told a certain path you should take. There's also A LOT of unqualified people trying to sell advice to artists. Blocking out the noise has been a big thing for me these last few months.
Artists can do anything they want these days. You can print your work on products, show in galleries, sell in person and online, design book covers and on and on. I've always been one to do things my own way so of course I love this. When I graduated art school, you still had to get (very expensive) slides of your work and submit them to galleries as the standard. I wanted to be an artist that made increasingly higher priced work to show in galleries. I think the thought of selling paintings for $10,000 is just not appealing to me. I'm much more interested in allowing design, ceramics and other things to be a part of my art. I just made a calendar. I'm working on new paintings. I'm working on some book submissions. Maybe someday I will work in an altogether different medium. I love being in the moment and just seeing what happens.
Systems. I have automated and organized so many parts of what I do. From creating a queue of projects to creating a shipping log that tells me what is pending or complete, to gutting my studio and organizing it into a beautiful place, everything has done a 180 since I have put better systems in place.
You have to make and sell a lot of work to make a living with art. I feel like I used to depend on work from six months ago to sell when I just need to be making new work and evolving. Also, the more that I hunker down, work on the nitty gritty and make work or improve my workflow, the more opportunities seem to come my way.
"In the particular lies the universal."
This line by graphic designer James Victore really speaks to me. When I think of my best work, it is personal and totally me. He says:
"To pull from the most personal areas of your life, your opinions, your stories, your experiences - by doing this you create something meaningful not only to yourself but to those who see it."
You can read more in this article he wrote. It's so important to not just think of art all the time, but walk outside, spend time with people who matter and do things that are totally different, which of course, will give you experience and stories.
With jiu jitsu, I sometimes wonder if I'm giving 100% more often than I do with art. I think it's because it feels like a do or die situation where you are fighting another human. You really have to try and give it your all. With art, it's so subjective. Is it finished? Is it garbage? I have been thinking a lot about how I want to give 100% to everything I do lately. I also know that training jiu jitsu has helped me to make faster and bolder decisions with everything I do since you have to when you are on the mat. This is helping me to make faster and bolder decisions with my art.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
- Einstein. I don't even need to expand on this.