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Aletta de Wal
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Aletta de Wal
Fabienne Bismuth
Huguette May

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Art Business: Make an Artful Transition to Next Year

The last day of the year attracts unusual pressure to complete all those undone tasks that we thought we "should have done by now." The weight eclipses all that hard work that did get done.   

We made up the list of "To do's" and the deadlines with the knowledge, skills, time, money and resources we had at the time. Since most of us do not have a crystal ball, many of those factors changed and gave us different results than we thought we "should" have achieved.

That means that we can take stock and make our goals and action lists up differently to take account of a new context.

To take stock, I ask my clients to first acknowledge 100 things they have already achieved. Many of them list items that they had not even dreamed of doing and they are almost always surprised at the length of the list. Instead of a weight on their shoulders, they begin to feel helium balloons lift their spirits.


"No Tree, No Me" © Geraldine Simmons "Geri" (AFC) Signature member of Artists For Conservation.
Making a difference for wildlife. AFC is the world's top artist group supporting the environment,
with a mission to support wildlife conservation and environmental education through art that
celebrates our natural world.

Stop reading for a moment and make your own list. What have you already accomplished in your life as an artist?

Here's a partial list created by Australian wildlife artist Geri Simmons that you can use to get inspired.

  1. Selling my first painting at school age ten.
  2. The best at art at school.
  3. Staying committed despite the setbacks.
  4. Illustrating a children's book (nearly published).
  5. Developing my own characters and style from those illustrations
  6. Signing my first publishing agreement with a greeting card company.
  7. Having prints made of my wildlife art by a publishing company.
  8. Appearing in a catalog with well-known artists.
  9. Creating a portfolio of greeting card designs.
  10. Selling my own hand-painted t-shirts.
  11. Creating my own marketing survey on my hand-painted t-shirts.
  12. Developing my t-shirt designs to make them more marketable.
  13. Being juried into my first local art group.
  14. Selling my first wildlife drawing at local show.
  15. Selling my next wildlife drawing at a local show.
  16. Finalist in the WWF greeting card competition.
  17. Winner traditional artwork of the month FanArt Review
  18. Winner traditional artwork of the month FanArt Review again.
  19. Featured artist Scribbles Colored Pencil Resource.  
  20. Signature Member Artists For Conservation
  21. Juried into Royal Easter Show Art competition five times.
  22. Juried into Warringah Art exhibition three times.
  23. Juried into Queensland Wildlife Artists Society Inc.
  24. Invited to visit Indonesia to see orangutans in the wild via my artwork. Invited by my son's grade two teacher to give a talk about my trip to Indonesia and show my artwork of orangutans.
  25. Invited to hang prints of my artwork at my son's school.
  26. Artists profile Creative Minds publication.
  27. Artists Profile Wildlife Art Magazine two times.
  28. Top Ten Placement Art Wanted online review three times.
  29. Number one image Art Wanted online review.
  30. Winner mixed media contest Fan Art Review.
  31. Second and third place Call to Arts juried art contest USA.
  32. Best in Show Lady Audrey's Gallery Day At the Beach International art contest.
  33. Only artist to have all three entries qualify.
  34. Gallery representation by Lady Audrey's Gallery.
  35. By invitation only to HSI Extinction Denied art exhibition.
  36. Sold my drawings twice at HSI art exhibition.
  37. Invited to donate work to Borneo Orangutan Society.
  38. Invited to donate work to Slivery Gibbon society twice.
  39. Sold both of those works 56. First international group exhibition in NYC. Featured artist ArtsConnect.
  40. Invited Australian Orangutan Project exhibition
  41. Selected for Fur Feather Fins art exhibition Queensland.
  42. Invited to donate work for the making of documentary film "Milking the Rhino." 
  43. Founding "Riding for Rangas" charity bike ride and running it for the past three years as a result of my trip to Indonesia.
  44. Gaining publicity in the local paper and magazine about this ride.
  45. Being featured in online newsletter re "Riding for Rangas."
  46. Awarded AFC Artist for Conservation of the month.
  47. Guests Gallery online art competition finalist three times.
  48. Selected artwork for Best of Wildlife Art hardcover book volume two.
  49. Selected artwork AFC hardcover book 2013.
  50. Juried into AFC 2013 virtual art exhibition.
  51. Invited to exhibit five of my limited edition prints for an exhibition in London.
  52. Preparing for my first joint art exhibition in November.
  53. Now instead of looking down on yourself, you are ready to float your mind up to the next stage.

Imagining yourself in the future is a technique many athletes use. Like actors, they rehearse their movements until they become second nature. You can do this too.

When I work with artists, I use a variety of methods. We may start with an audio exercise I created to do a visualization of the life the artist wants; make a vision board of that life from images cut from magazines or found on the Internet; and do a series of writing and visual journaling exercises.

Stop reading for a moment and see yourself living the artist's lifestyle that you would really, really like. What do you want to do to get there?

Your list will be different, but here's a partial list Geri made to get you going:

  1. I want to master my mediums.
  2. I want to create with greater ease and flow so that my drawing process feels effortless.
  3. I want to take part in more art exhibitions.
  4. I want to receive paid commissions on a regular basis.
  5. I want to sell all my originals and limited editions at my November exhibition in Sydney.
  6. I want to sell my limited edition prints at the exhibition in London this November.
  7. I want to attract a successful mailing list.
  8. I want to be more disciplined in creating a consistent body of work.
  9. I want to gain gallery representation in my own country.
  10. I want to become more recognized in my own country.
  11. I want to have a thorough inventory of all my artwork.
  12. I want to be more organized and keep my studio study.
  13. I want to wake up earlier so I can get more work done.
  14. I want to have a better system for taking care of my art accounts.
  15. I want to make some goals and follow through with them.
  16. I want to know how to use my camera properly so I can take better reference photos.
  17. I want to have boundaries with my kids (especially my younger daughter) in regards to my studio space and work time.
  18. I want to create postcards for my art business that will create results.
  19. I want my new website to create more business for me.
  20. I want an equal balance of totem animal drawing commissions and creating wildlife art.
  21. I want to draw more quickly yet with the same amount of detail and care in order to produce more work.
  22. I want to improve my social skills so I can be more confident.
  23. I want to network more.
  24. I want more co-operation from my kids with household duties so I can create more art.
  25. I want to create an abundant cash flow.
  26. I want to attract like-minded people who can support me in my career.
  27. I want a mentor.
  28. I want to find an audience for my work who keep coming back for more.  
  29. I want to further develop my signature style.
  30. I want to take more trips to Dubbo zoo to take reference photos.
  31. I want to travel to Borneo to see orangutans in the wild and take photos.
  32. I want a 300 mm lens for my camera so I can take better reference photos.
  33. I want to sell my artwork that was left over from the exhibition in New York.
  34. I want to improve my art skills even more.
  35. I want to do more for wildlife conservation.
  36. I want to win a prestigious art award to further my credibility.
  37. I want to be recognized for my signature style of work.
  38. I want to have a solo art exhibition.
  39. I want to be a more confident artist.
  40. I want to be able to talk about my art with confidence.
  41. I want to be a role model for other artists.
  42. I want to make it into Society of Animal Artists.
  43. I want to be selected for the AFC Flag expedition.
  44. I want to create a demand for my work.
  45. I want to meet Jane Goodall from the Jane Goodall Foundation.
  46. I want to create enough cash flow so I can show up at interstate art shows.
  47. I want to create enough cash flow so I can show up at international art exhibitions.
  48. I want to have my work selected for the AFC art exhibit.
  49. I want to win BBC wildlife artist of the year.
  50. I want to win the David Shepard Wildlife Artist of the Year.
  51. I want to travel to Africa for a wildlife safari to take reference photos.
  52. I want to make "Riding for Rangas" a bigger event with more people helping so I have more time to make more art.

January 1st is just another date on the calendar unless you make the feeling of a fresh start into a practical boost for your art business!


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"I help artists make a better living from their art and still have a life."
Aletta de Wal, Artist Advisor at Artist Career Training inspires fine artists to make a better living making art in any economy. Aletta works with part-time, emerging and full-time artists who are serious about a career in fine arts.  Aletta makes make art marketing easier and the business of art simpler. Equal parts artist, educator and entrepreneur, Aletta has worked with over 4000  artists in groups and 400 individually. Her clients say that she inspires them to do the work to be successful, provides the detail to take specific action and supports them through the ups and downs of life and art.

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