Some Thoughts About Progress
I’m not really sure I’ve talked about my 2021 exhibitions anywhere but perhaps some Instagram stories, and I figured I’d do a bit of reflection on how I got them.
Truth to be told, I think this new year hit us all suddenly – it was like out of the blue, all these things happened internally and externally.
Lots of events and news of all kinds, and to me it was no difference. In my personal life, my partner and I have been back and forth on whether we should or could stay in Aarhus, Denmark, my work life has turned 180 degrees, I was contacted by a caster for the national Danish tv show with their version of “Portrait Artist of the Year”, a new, big decoration project for my favorite hotel here in Denmark, partnerships with other shops such as Peléton and Poster & Frame and last but really not least those exhibitions. Phew. Quite a lot, and quite a lot of excitement! I am obviously thrilled about it all.
Honestly, when I really threw myself into art in the fall, I’d think it would be a long, heavy road of sending applications and looking for exhibitions to participate in. But this hasn’t at all been my experience. Quite the opposite, actually.
And looking back over the past half year, even with a full time job to support the startup of my artwork, I’ve worked like a maniac, it just has not felt so. It really, deeply felt like pure joy in my devotion and curiosity, and time just passed me by. In October, I made a list of all the things I figured I should have done by New Years to feel established, and I simply followed this “to do” list, which was more a wish list, now that I think about it. A bullet point could be something like “Apply for 20 open calls this month”. The funny thing is, that every time I made these crazy wish lists, I’d reach at least 10 percent of the goal, and in the example of the 20 open calls, I was accepted for 2 open calls, which led me to be published in a couple of online art magazines and galleries and one physical gallery.
It was a wonderful experience, and I think a lot of us artrepreneurs thrive on this.
We don’t compete with each other (actually, in the world of art, this seems impossible, because inspiration flows everywhere, and not two artists are the same) we compete with ourselves constantly. We thrive in the joy of what ifs.
What if I can get into 2 of the open calls I apply for?
What if I can get a solo exhibiton in a year?
What if I can sell a painting through my webshop?
See, we’re all different in how we perceive the opportunities in our little worlds. So to me, a solo exhibit or selling an original painting online are pretty big things that almost seem impossible. At first. I was recently introduced to the “One Meter Throw” strategy, which is about setting a goal, that might seem a bit out of reach, but setting it anyway, and then go a step back and see what you can do to get to the goal.
Let’s take the example of getting into a physical gallery, which to me seemed very much out of reach. I went a step back to see what ways to get into one, and I found out that open calls was an option for a lot of galleries. Now, if that was all it’d take, it would just be about applying, but for me, this was the first time I’d do that and I had no idea how to enter an open call or know anything about the quality or sort of artwork required for my selected open calls – then, I’d have to step back and see what one meter throw I could make in order to enter the open call. As I found out, I could sit down and research the gallery’s earlier exhibitions and read a whole lot about their style and favorite artists. Then, all I had to do was to create beautiful artwork with their demand in mind, but from my own inspiration.
To some people, that might not have been enough with just a couple of one meter throws, and they might have had to take a couple of more steps back and do a couple of more one meter throws – or, it could’ve been the other way around, and they’d realise they knew a gallery owner and all they had to do would be to call them up. It’s always different, but the main point of this strategy is to get to the goal, regardless of what it is, one throw (or step) at a time.
I’m currently doing it with my dream of living of my arts. There are lots of one meter throws to that goal, and I have a set of tasks going on at the same time in order to reach it. I’m investing a great amount of time on my social media, warming up people to what I’m creating, I’m growing my painting and drawing skills, and I’m doing a lot of marketing for my webshop.
Sometimes it’s like that, and sometimes – actually a lot of the time – people around me find it hard to see where I’m going and what’s the purpose. But I always keep the end in mind (with a little help from Stephen Covey) and work focused toward it with complete faith in the process and the right timing. In the past half year, it’s gotten me far, but in my own mind, I’ve only just established myself as an artist, and now, the real work begins in order to meet that dream I set out originally.
I encourage anyone who reads this to try out this strategy, if they have a goal or a desire, they struggle with. It’s a joy getting experienced with them, and one small success at a time really allows you to integrate every new level you reach in a healthy, grateful way.
My next throws are going to be sharing the processes behind my artworks, so that my followers can really see the story of how something’s been made and hopefully fall in love with these stories the way I do. In that way, I aim to get more sales, as people have been better informed and attached to the pieces.
You grow into it as you say yes to it.