Compost, Store, Share: Business Evaluation for Artists

As the year hurtles towards Winter Solstice, many small business owners are now tentatively making plans for 2017. In my Wild Creative calendar, the transition from Autumn to Winter is a time to reflect on everything you've harvested from your creative practice during the previous seasons, and to make a decision on what you want to take forward into a new year. It's time for some strategic business evaluation. If that sounds scary, don't worry, I have a simple way of evaluating that fits in with your Wild Creative Life and is less linear than traditional business evaluation techniques. There's very little point in planning for your future business without first evaluating what's worked and what hasn't, and more importantly, assessing whether your practice is still aligned with your North Star--your core business values. I call this the "Compost, Store, Share" exercise and it's a vital part of building your strong, sustainable, creative practice.

If you want to follow along with this exercise, grab a big piece of paper and a pencil and let's go!

1. Make a full inventory of your creative harvest.

It's impossible to evaluate your creative practice without making a full list of everything that has come out of your studio, and everything you've generated through your art. I take a really broad view of what constitutes a creative output, and if you sign up to receive my Wild eNotes, I'll send you a free pdf on how to assess your creative harvest. You'll be surprised when you see that you've created more than you first imagined!

2. Compost

This is often the easy one! The next step is to be absolutely honest about what didn't work, what you didn't enjoy, and what you never, ever want to do again! Throw these outputs onto the compost heap. Don't look back--enjoy the release of letting go of something that doesn't serve you or your practice. I like to think these ideas are regenerated and flow back out into the universe for someone else to pluck and grow! Who knows. 

Be ruthless with this. Things I'm throwing on the compost this year? Membership to groups that don't support my practice. Donating my best work to auctions that claim to give me exposure but don't (I'll sell the work and donate the money instead). Facebook groups that drain my time and energy.

3. Store

All good farmers store away part of their harvest for use in the leaner, colder seasons. All prudent gardeners harvest and store seeds to re-plant in Spring. I believe that we as artists and creatives should follow their lead in order to build a business that stays strong throughout the year. Here are a couple of suggestions of what to store:

  • Ideas that were hard to throw on the compost. There may have been some outputs from your practice that you thought might work if only they had been approached in a different way. Store these away to look at again next year and spend time over the Winter thinking about what is needed to support their growth.
  • Your "cash crop". We all have elements of our practice that come easy, are sold effortlessly and are loved by your audience. You may not find these as exciting as other work, but they're the bread and butter of your business--you definitely want to save these ideas and be ready to re-seed next spring.
  • New ideas that organically evolved from your work this year. The act of creation naturally generates new ideas, but we can't always allow those seedlings to grow otherwise we lose our focus. Jot down the best ideas that evolved from your recent work and save them to look at again next Spring.

4. Share

Once you've made a full list of your creative outputs, discarded what clearly didn't work, and stored away ideas for next year, then what you have left is your current harvest that's available to share with others--either by gifting, donating or selling. For example, I have some fun paintings that are not my usual style, so don't fit into my fine art practice, but they're not a disaster and don't deserve to be thrown on the compost. So what should I do with them? These are ideal pieces for me to donate for auction. I have lots of sample pieces that I've played with this year, especially small weavings, and these will make great gifts for my family and friends.

Once you've carried out this "Compost, Store, Share" exercise, then you can sit back and enjoy December! You've done a good thing for you, your creative practice and your business, so pat yourself on the back, have a nice cup of tea and feel good about where you are with your Wild Creative Life.

I've created a pretty six page pdf that you can print out to use when you list your creative inventory--it has tips and suggestions to help you. Sign up to join my creative circle and I'll send you a free copy. If you're already subscribed to my Wild eNotes, then you'll be receiving the link in my next Wild Note coming to you very, very soon!

I'd love to hear about what you're composting, storing and sharing. Leave a comment below, email me or pop over to my FB page--listening to your stories always inspires me to create greater work. 

Much love to you x

Jacqui

 

break the rules & thrive: welcome to the new creative class!

I'm not a "break the rules" kind of girl. Quite the opposite. I cross only at the crosswalk, I keep to the speed limit and I never step on the grass if there's a sign telling me not to. My family laugh at how rule abiding I am. To me, these rules are mostly in place to protect us, the environment and my wider community: They are rules that make me feel safe.

However, where I willingly toss all 'rules' aside, is in the art world and my creative practice. The art world has some ridiculous 'rules' that really aren't rules at all, rather traditions inherited from a bygone era. Traditions that serve to keep artists and creatives - and especially women artists - small, undervalued and, let's be honest, underpaid. These 'rules' make me feel frustrated, angry and undermined.

The 'rules' I'm talking about include several myths that you'll be familiar with:

 

  • Artists must be starving, not thriving
  • Artists must suffer for their work
  • It's OK for artists to work in shabby conditions with little regard for safety regulations
  • Artists can't sell their own work
  • Artists must create, show or donate artwork with no payment in return for 'exposure', or potential future 'opportunity'
  • You can't call yourself an 'artist' unless you have a BFA, or better an MFA
  • Women artists create as a hobby, not as a business
  • Selling work undermines the purity of the creative process
  • Galleries must take a 50% commission
  • Artists must have a serious bio and a statement to be 'professional'
  • Artists must show in a gallery in order to gain recognition in the 'art world'

 

Well. 

Who the heck wants to be an artist with those 'rules'?

 

BREAKING THE RULES

I'm calling time on all the above! 

I don't subscribe to any of those 'rules' and I am more than happy to be a legacy breaker in my own corner of the art world. And you know what? I'm not the only one. All around me I'm seeing examples of artists, makers, crafters and forward thinkers who are THRIVING by shaking off tradition and inventing  new models of working. I'm seeing zero commission galleries coming out of London and Chicago, artists who sell their work ONLY on Instagram and become superstars, self-taught designers with vibrant blogs that drive income, artist garage sales, and folks like the ones in the photo above, who were told to bring a tent but arrived in an old school bus (and got more business because of it).

Tradition is just that - tradition, not rules. Tradition is the handing down of beliefs and customs from one generation to another and WE can choose whether tradition still serves us, or whether it's time to create a new set of beliefs and customs that support the way we want to live NOW. 

There's no tradition police (as far as I know!) There's no-one going to say "hey, you can't make money from your silk painting, that's breaking the tradition!" Or, "what do you mean, you paint in a beautiful, light filled, heated room?" So what's stopping you? Fear of being 'different'? Fear that it won't work? I'm prepared to take the risk, are you? 

 

THRIVING

Here's what I model in my own practice and business, and here's what I promote through my Wild Creative teachings:

  • Artists thrive in their work and they enrich their communities through their art
  • Artists have the necessary skills to grow a successful, profitable business
  • Artists create their own beautiful spaces to work in, whether that's a home studio, a tent in the garden or a shared venue
  • Artists are self-empowered and use the power of community to support themselves and other creatives
  • Everyone is an artist, regardless of the certificate (or lack of one) that's in the filing cabinet
  • Women are uniquely qualified to create vibrant, profitable and heart-centered businesses that bring value to themselves as well as to those they serve
  • Artists have the choice to work within the traditional gallery model or not (or do both); there's no rivalry, competition or 'only' way to success
  • Artists create new gallery models with zero or low commissions, artist collectives, exhibiting groups, innovate ways of sharing their work: Artists understand the strength of community
  • Artists speak to their communities in their own voice and explain their work in a way that inspires, engages and encourages participation (and sales!)

 

Does that sound like a better way to you? Want to be an artist now?

Are you a legacy breaker too? If so, I'd love you to join my Wild Creative Circle and let's BE the change we want to see in the art world. Let's model the change in our own life, creative practice and if we have one, business. Let's re-frame what it means to be an 'artist' (such a loaded word, right?), and let's show the world examples of thriving, prosperous, confident and fulfilled artists. 

With me?

J x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the World Needs You and Your Unique Art: A New Moon Call

It's New Moon: a time to let go of what no longer serves. It's also the transition to autumn: a time to release in order to make space for rest through the winter, which prepares us for renewal and rejuvenation in spring. This is a sacred time. An opportunity to pause, sit with the darkside for a moment and to make the personal changes necessary to support your Wild Creative Life and business through the next two seasons. 

So what's the point of release? And what does it really mean to let go of what no longer serves you?

 

This week I met my s/hero, Tara Mohr, and listened to her speak about her book Playing Big. I don't often use the term "must-read" but ALL girls and women need to read this book. Through her Playing Big research, Tara gives insight into why women often "play small", and offers practical tools to overcome the barriers to living fully expressed, creative, ethically conscious lives. Her work is a call to women to shake off the patterns of behaviour that no longer serve us. It's also a call for courage. 

Until this summer I always thought that releasing what no longer served me, meant letting go of the activities, relationships, jobs and ventures for which I no longer had anything to offer. That if I didn't have the time, the necessary skills or passion, that was the time to move on. What Tara and my experience this year has shown me, is that this is only half of the equation, it's the easy part!

It's not a struggle to let go of something for which we have no time, or that brings us little joy. But what happens when we are involved in activities that are honourable, worthy, bring us respect, recognition, or feed our ego? What happens when we have skills to offer, value to give, but none of it is directed towards our own dream? What happens when even the "good" stuff we are involved in takes time and energy away from the pursuit of our own life purpose? Then it's not so easy to walk away or to let go. We may feel a sense of obligation, duty or fall into the martyr's role - "well nobody else is going to do it, so I guess it's me that will have to step up!" This is where courage is needed.

This summer I stepped away from a nonprofit leadership role that has been a major part of my life for the last three years. I still had much to offer, but I knew deep down that it wasn't serving my life's purpose, my True North - my Wild Creative community. It was a difficult decision, but here's the truth:

 

I am not the only person that can lead that nonprofit.

I AM, however, the only person that can lead this Wild Creative community.

 

And that, my lovely friends, is why you need to sometimes release even some of the "good" stuff. If you don't make room in your life for your creative dream, then it will never happen. Here's more truth:

 

YOU are the only person that can create your art.

YOU are the only person that can write that blog post, or that life-changing book.

YOU are the only person that can create YOUR unique magic in the world.

And the world needs you.

 

 

Tweet: Choosing yourself, releasing what no longer serves YOU, is the greatest act of love for yourself that you can make.@jkcalladine
Choosing yourself, releasing what no longer serves YOU, is the greatest act of love for yourself that you can make.

 

So here's my New Moon Call:

 

Have the courage to release what no longer serves YOU. 

Have the courage to let go of even the good stuff - the things you do out of "duty" or "ego" or because "nobody else will do it, so I have to".

Make space for the AMAZING to enter your life.

Have the courage to step fully into YOU, into YOUR art and share it with the world. 

PLAY BIG!

 

Imagine a world in which everyone is able to fully express their Wild Creative soul, to bring their unique gifts to the world with humility, respect, and love for each other. Isn't that the world you want to live in? Isn't that why you create in the first place? 

Now take action my sweet. Today. New Moon. Release.

Much love xo