10 New Year Resolutions for Artists

Many artists like everyone else at some point have had regrets in their effort to become successful as artists. Questions, like “What if I did this” or “How come I did not do that” usually lead the way when it comes to this sort of remorse. With art as with any creative who uses their creativity as a career and to make a living, don’t let these be something that you too experience. And if you have and it is not too late, maybe understanding what you should or should not have done in the past can help you as you move forward.

Over the years, as I have spoken to both artists and photographers I have asked them if were there things they regretted when it comes to how they built their careers. The answers vary and not everyone is guilty of the concepts I am about to share but these are some of the ones that I noted over time. Coming up with this list was not easy either because I had to really spend some time pondering what people had told me in the past. You don’t have to wait until the New Year, but here are the ten things that I came up with and it inspired me to create a list of New Year Resolutions.

Take New Risks

Some artists regret playing it safe and not pushing their creative boundaries. Taking risks can lead to personal and artistic growth. This is especially important for newer artists trying to find their way. Maybe they like to paint landscapes but are good at producing portraits, The only problem is they are shy when dealing with people. Likewise, a photographer who may have an aversion to doing wedding photography might find it is more rewarding or less stressful than they thought. It is easy to decide that a risk is not worth it but you will never truly know until try something.

Comparing Yourself to Others

This can be a good and constructive thing. Constantly comparing one’s work and progress to other artists can be detrimental. Many artists regret spending too much time worrying about how they measure up to their peers. I heard one artist once say that if you are NOT worried about if your work is good enough then you are not going to strive to be better.

Develop Business and Marketing Skills

Artists often regret not investing enough time in learning how to market themselves and their work. The business side of art is crucial for sustaining a career. This is perhaps my biggest concern for artists that I meet who are exceptionally talented. Not spending the time to learn certain aspects of business is going to lead to failure. Sure, every artist fantasizes about having an agent to handle it all but that is very unlikely to happen until you make the effort to develop some business skills so that you can attract that type of professional help.

Focus on Health and Well-being

Long hours in the studio and the pressure to create can lead some artists to neglect their physical and mental health. Many wish they had prioritized self-care earlier in their careers. This means getting out and getting the blood flowing. Not only is it a great stress reducer but many artists find it helps on the creativity front as well.

Photograph & Backing Up Your Work

This is perhaps the most common regret I have come across. Not taking the time to properly photograph a piece of work.  After a piece has sold, this can be essential for making prints, exhibitions, and portfolios. Photos should be high quality, high resolution, and print-worthy. Investing in the time and effort to make sure there are backup copies of these images that are easily accessible to you is also important. It is amazing how often artists who use FinerWorks ask us if we have copies of the files they uploaded because they lost all their files off their computers. Keep your backups in the cloud as well as a local drive like a thumb drive. Make sure only you or those you authorize to have access to them can do so easily if needed.

Evaluate Your Pricing

Pricing can be a tricky aspect of being an artist. Some regret not valuing their work appropriately, either pricing too low and not making a sustainable income or pricing too high and limiting their audience. New artists should especially take the time to research and discover what price not only allows them to earn the revenue they want but also attracts the clients they want. Just a small tip from not only personal experience but from the experience I have heard from others as well. Making your price too low can attract sales but it also attracts customers and clients that might not be the type you want. In business customers also have quality scores and ratings just like businesses do. You want your prices not to attract those customers or collectors with low-quality scores because you will find out quickly that it makes the sale more stressful.

Seek Out Criticism & Feedback

Constructive criticism is crucial for artistic growth. Artists may regret not actively seeking feedback from peers, mentors, or the artistic community. Human nature is such that asking for criticism is not always a comfortable task. Especially if you feel like you will be roasted by others. But this criticism is essential for you to understand what you could do differently to make the experience better for both you and your buyers. And of course, it helps to improve the overall quality of your art itself.

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Fear of failure can hold artists back from trying new things or pursuing unconventional paths. Many regret not embracing failure as a natural part of the creative process. Take a look at all the people who have accomplished great things, whether you like them or hate them. For instance, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, not only was originally fired from his own company but faced multiple setbacks before returning and making it into what it is today. And who can forget Walt Disney? Before creating the iconic Disney brand, Walt Disney faced multiple business failures and rejections. He was even fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and good ideas.

Get Out in the World

Creating art is often a solo gig, letting you dive deep into your thoughts and self-expression. But shutting yourself off from the artistic crowd? That’s a creativity killer. Without diverse influences, your ideas can get stale, and you might miss out on fresh perspectives. Actively mingling with fellow artists isn’t just about swapping techniques; it’s a chance for shared insights and potential collaborations that can shake up your creative routine. Artists who wish they’d networked more often feel the regret of skipping out on exposure and a supportive community. Finding a balance between solo musings and community vibes ensures a well-rounded and fulfilling creative journey.

Continue Your Skill Development

Sometimes, artists find themselves caught up in the rush or, let’s be honest, just a bit too comfortable. They look back and wish they’d put more effort into sharpening their skills. Whether life got hectic or they settled into a groove, not staying on the learning curve becomes a regret. The creative journey thrives on continuous improvement, and those who lament not keeping up with it recognize the vital role ongoing learning plays. It’s not just about refining techniques; it’s about ensuring a career that stands the test of time, constantly evolving and surprising both the artist and their audience.

You the reader may have experienced these regrets at some point. If you have made efforts to correct these then great. Continue to find things you might someday ask “I wish I had done this” so that you are less likely to actually say those words. If you have not made efforts to do better in these areas, now is a good time to begin. If you are looking for a good New Year resolution then these could very well fit the bill but I would advise that you don’t wait since there is no time like the present.

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