Garden Party

“We’re all mad here.”
“But, I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
                                                             
                                                       ~Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
 

Mad, Fearless artArtists are an insecure bunch. Not all, but many seek constant reassurance and direction. Newer artists may do it incessantly. They’re liable to make a career out of “what do you think?” and lose the spirit that had them fearlessly making art in the first place.

Some time ago, I made a vow to liver fearlessly…Freudian typo.
This was not entirely possible without reconciling myself to a certain degree of madness. While the decision to live fearlessly included putting myself and my art “out there,” it did not preclude the insecurity that would accompany “spreading my wares” before the masses, showing artwork publically, and the challenges of defining and refining my artistic “voice.” I also didn’t count on the Ego voicing Her rather paranoid concerns. As the stakes got higher, Her inflated decibels were on a mission to drown out reason. My motto – Starve the Ego, feed the Muse. (click to Tweet) Continue reading “Garden Party”

Who’s Your Daddy?

Who’s your biggest advocate? Who champions your career, has your back, ferrets out opportunity that will benefit you?Advocate for yourself - create opportunity

I hope your answer is – ME! I don’t mean me…the coach, the artist, the advisor…I mean YOU! You probably aren’t comfortable advocating for yourself. Few of us are, but the truth is, you MUST be your own advocate, whether you’re a creative, a corporate person, a small business owner or a solo-preneur. No matter who you are, you owe it to yourself to be your own best advocate. It’s not a bloated ego thing. It’s a smart thing (click to Tweet).

Continue reading “Who’s Your Daddy?”

What’s Your Problem?

What’s your problem?Art Problems

Yeah, I know you have one. Or you ought to. I currently have an issue I’m working out….more often than not, I work on it in front of you all! Not this one…not yet.

Cat got yer tongue?

Truly, we all face different challenges at different times in our lives. Full-time artists have different challenges than part-time artists. Self-employed artists find various challenges, but so do artists who work for design firms or studios. The challenges we face are unique and personal. Continue reading “What’s Your Problem?”

12 Steps and a Trip

12 Step Computer AddictsPut me in a 12-Step program. I’ve been through one before, but that was eons ago.

12-Step programs offer fantastic structure with “rules for accountability and living.” Back in the day, it was clear whose shit was whose right from the start, and yes, ahem… I did make a small, negative contribution to the “problem.” In the walls of those meetings, I made friends who were seeking healthy boundaries and I learned to sniff out abusers, so I wouldn’t repeat my choices. I had a sponsor. I’m not sure if anyone would man-up and sponsor my recovery with my current problem.

I have a computer problem.

I need to take 12-steps back from my computer…way back.

It’s affecting the quality of my life and work.  The black tar social media is the worst.(click to party with me and Tweet this)  It’s become a nag, a constant, driving, whiny beast, tugging, clawing at the corner of my mind each time I try to focus on something truly productive. When I do break free, I feel elated and light spirited.  I’m mindfully engaged. I’m not sure what’s rewarding about lighting up the screen again, but I know from my previous training, there must be a payoff for the dysfunctional behaviour to continue. Seems I’m gettin’ my fix. Continue reading “12 Steps and a Trip”

The Art of Acceptance

Acceptance“There’s a tightening that comes with the proficiency we achieve in whatever it is we do.” (click to Tweet)

We’re a lot like children, still…and I think it’s precious. Have you ever noticed how when you’re attracted to something new, if it’s something you adore, you attack it with zeal? There’s a pure joy in the simple act of “doing it.” It’s fresh and you’re simply in the moment, savoring your passion. Art is like that. So is golf or dance or writing. I’m sure you can fill in the blank regarding a passion you’ve had and you will see, in its infancy it’s free and fresh and fun.

Eventually, the vile voice of the critic creeps in the crack of the door, when you aren’t looking. Suddenly, like Adam and Eve, you realize you are naked and ashamed. You’ve eaten from the tree of knowledge. Now, you know, it isn’t good enough, you didn’t do it like last time and the bitter taste of expectation begins to taint your joyful journey.  Yep, you’ve lost your innocence. And. It. Happens.

When I taught adult learning theory to trainers, I used to teach the Dreyfus Model of Skills Acquisition. It looks like this:

Learning Self-Acceptance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, there is a path, a process that only time and experience can account for. As we continue to be active in our passion, our perception of the value of our work changes. This is how it’s supposed to be. Though, I’ve noticed, with art, it can change my relationship to not only the work itself, but my daily working of it as well. The judgment gets in the way. The expectation raises the bar. The joy of it can be zapped if I don’t manage myself around the process.

That being said, it’s in direct opposition of the idea of art itself. Art is expressive, and fresh, compelling and different. Art provokes emotion and thought. Art tells stories. Sometimes, as novices, we strive to make art like everyone else, for approval, so we know we are “in the lines” but as artists, we’re supposed to create new lines, tell our own stories. It’s a paradox.

Perhaps we can leverage the Dreyfus model, not only to help us understand ourselves, but also teach, mentor and support others. When you shine a light on what’s coming, it’s not nearly so scary and it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to be validated. Remember the sisterhood of childbirth? The brotherhood of sportsmanship? This is precisely why community is so important for artists. 

I was reminded of this yesterday when I read this in “Art and Fear  – Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland :

“On both intellectual and technical grounds it’s wise to remain on good terms with our artistic heritage, lest you devote several incarnations to re-inventing the wheel. But once having allowed for that, the far greater danger is not that the artist will fail to learn something from the past, but fail to teach anything new to the future.”

 So, dear souls, there you have it. Embrace the joy, feed your curious novice well as the proficient expert grows. Do the brave thing, not the safe thing. Just do art.

Be Brave, Be Naked,

Coaching

 

 
 
Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, 
Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 
 
                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Hold On To Your Hat

Wearing too many hats Sometimes, life gets crazy. You know what I mean. We artists have to wear many hats. Of course, we want to stop the “Glorification of busy.” It seems to have become either a disease or a badge of honor in our society to be “too busy.” Well, I say, “Poop on you people.” Are you the same grouchy, inflated, overworked egos that don’t have time to enjoy these beautiful spring blossoms or take a moment to swing at the park? Please, please, don’t get so busy you forget how to be civil or have a run of fun now and then.

Seriously, this week I’m busy…mad as a hatter. I’m in the middle of moving a studio, preparing for a couple art shows, an open studio event, and I have an April vacation scheduled, so I can’t drag my feet. But, 

Today I picked up the keys to my new studio space. The professionally crafted sign was picked up. I scored a cool wall decal, compliments of my friend, Tony. Everything is going to be very nice…then…I noticed the walls. Being an “art studio” the walls were full of holes, and scabs where they had been repeatedly patched. They were dirty. I’m preparing for a studio warming in this space. What’s a girl to do?

After much, well, some, no, a little thought, this girl added ONE MORE THING TO THE “TO DO” LIST. (click to Tweet)

That’s right. Tomorrow morning, I’m painting; because presentation is everything. Remember – quality of work should not suffer for an overcommitted schedule?

What is your work as an artist?

Wearing many hatsCertainly the medium of your choice is your work. You wouldn’t produce shoddy artwork and expect people to respect you. But, your work involves so many aspects beyond your art. As I said, we wear many hats. Your work includes the presentation of your art, how you manage your “Gallery” in your studio and online, how you handle monetary transactions, how you follow up purchases and handle commissions. Your work includes marketing, research and getting your tax receipts together…yes, it’s March 21st and yes, I did say that. (If you’ve already file – hats off to you!) Your work involves photographing your treasures, cataloguing them, managing your inventory and keeping an eye on the calendar for upcoming events and submissions. You are a project manager, a program analyst, a public relations expert and an accountant. Your work includes the environment you provide for people in your space (event planner) – while you may or may not agree, it does. Your work includes the quality of interactions you have with potential collectors and gallery owners (sales guy/therapist).

If you cannot afford to hire someone to do the tasks above for you…responsibility for that work falls squarely on your Studio beforeshoulders. Are YOU busy yet? By the way, if you’re having an open studio see my tips and make it an “event.” If it’s old hat to you, don’t bother to read it.

Sure, spring fever has me tightly in its grasp and I’m dying to don my sun bonnet, but because I produce my best art, I must show it in the best way possible. I must practice the same diligent eye for detail I have in my artwork with the rest of my business. It doesn’t take a lot of money, just some attention and <sigh> time.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and go the extra mile…because it’s the right thing to do. In the meantime, the swings will have to wait and I’ll sniff a bloom or two on my way to grab the paint can and roller.

It’s beginning to feel like old hat now, 

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

 

Series-ous Directions

Having the vehicle and directions to get where you want to go is priceless.The Weaver's House

But, what happens when we’re in unfamiliar territory?

Recently, I came to a crossroad and didn’t have a map. No stinkin’ Garmin…no road signs. Nada. Sometimes, as we’re traveling the path of our natural, creative evolution, we get lost. It may be we follow our curiosity deep into the woods and can’t find the way out.  Perhaps the shiny eyes and voices in the night murmur, ”Come this way.” “Not that, this is better.” “Since you asked my opinion…” and we actually listen to them! It’s the way with the world today.

If we tried to pay strict attention to all the information that claims to be “useful” to us, we’d  be in an over-loaded, slack–jawed, dead–fish eyed, stupor.(Try Tweetin’ that!)

Enormous loads of information bombard our consciousness daily. In the confusion of looking for a map, we’re accosted at every proverbial street corner.  I don’t know about you, but I’m unwilling to have my art career carjacked by any ol’ yahoo waving an “Pistol Of Perspective” (click to Tweet).   Lots of people claim they can provide directions…but sometimes they send you down a treacherous alley, or a dead end street.

I was stopping to ask directions when I bumped into San Francisco Artist and Acrylic Diva, Tesia Blackburn. To my delight, not only was she familiar the terrain, she honored my free will to choose my own mode of transportation.

Her advice to me – choose one design element you’d like to study. Create 50 paintings. Do nothing else. Nothing else. Explore that element, get intimate with your subject. You’ll free your mind from other bothers and you’re bound to produce some very good paintings.

Huh?

It sounded so simple…yet time consuming. It smacked of….ahem….self-discipline. What’s a lost girl to do?  Rather than straying deeper into the woods, I sought civilization. I set out to explore my element in my new series titled “Villages.”

Promo for FB Villages WMWhy “Villages?” Because my abstract landscapes held my interested, but I needed a little bit more. I want to ensure I’d stay engaged during the learning process. I wanted to tell stories. Villages…small communities where people live their lives. Families. Characters. History. Epic tales. If you’re looking for direction, start a series, as Tesia Blackburn suggests. Here it is, from the horse’s mouth (sorry, Tesia).

Artist, Kesha Bruce has her own flavor of advice to begin a series. Kesha draws quickly and with abandon – in one sitting, 100 drawings, 3 minutes each. She swears it will take you out of your mind. Something original, fresh and exciting will evolve.

Kesha Bruce uses this technique to begin all her series. It’s a potent prescription to find direction or even discover new lands. Learn more here.

Not all who wander are lost, but if you are, or if you’re seeking new direction, try a series of paintings or drawings. You might discover new lands! I’ve found success. The journey has deepened my understanding, experience, confidence and my work is improving.

So trust yourself. Let your muse be your guide.

Take your art series-ously,

Coaching

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Walking the Tightrope

Ritual and Routine

 

When you work on your own, it’s easy to get into an unproductive rut. The demands of everyday life can pull you off track. Soon, you find, you’re taxiing kids, doing the laundry or waiting for repair people. Did you get into the studio? Nope. Take care of that upcoming marketing piece for your event? Nope. Did you write your newsletter? Heck, nope…and that’s not all. It’s not that you’re not “working,” it’s just you aren’t working on your stuff. Your life has become a circus!!!

“If you don’t spend your time delivering your own package, other people will use your time to deliver theirs.” (click to Tweet)

This kind of “off-tracking” and generosity may feel like flexibility to you, but what it really does is zap your productivity. What’s more, it can suck every bit of creativity out of you. Schwwwwooooopppp!

   

So, how do you develop a healthy routine that boosts production and allows creativity to thrive? Can your free-spirited self ever be happy with the bridle of routine? You might think it feels, well…constricting.

It’s unrealistic to expect our days will be spent doing only the things we love to do. Ooooh, did I sound like your mother?  Sorry!  Sure, the bulk of your work should be something you’re passionate about, but realistically, we all have parts of our work we don’t thoroughly enjoy. If we want to sip the sweet nectar of success, we have to drink the bitter medicine, too.

The key is to create some balance. If we only do the tasks we enjoy and put off the others, we run into a big pile of procrastination. Life can be like the bigtop, so here are some tips to get a foothold on that tightrope, and create some happy, predictable fun and routine in your days.

Start with a Solid Program – When creating ritual and routine think of the things you enjoy…what are you passionate about? This is your foundation for the day’s journey. Make sure your passions are really your own…unique to you.

Artfully Schedule the Acts – Identify your peak production hours. Schedule hard hitting stuff for the times you’re most energized. For example, if you’re a morning person, do your heavy lifting in the morning. If you are energized after lunch, schedule demanding tasks in the afternoon. Schedule your days with the activities you most enjoy in strategic time slots to kick off the day. Keep momentum by scheduling some “duties” that don’t squeal your wheels, but need to be done anyway, in between the times you’re doing the fun stuff. Need some time management tips?

Sweeten the Deal Think of it like cotton candy. If you’re doing a task you don’t enjoy, sweeten the deal by playing music you love, or performing the task in an enjoyable spot. For example, go out to the garden with your laptop to create marketing material, or play your favourite artist during your clean up phase in the studio. Sip a favourite beverage while doing your books. It works!

Be the Ringmaster – Of course, you have an audacious “To Do” list! You also have a calendar. Use them both. Schedule 60% of your time and leave 40% free for life to happen. But when you schedule it, make sure you honor your commitments to yourself and do what’s on your calendar. It’s important to schedule time in the day to take a break and recharge. This is essential to your creative flow. You can find some tips here.

Hold Regular Dress Rehearsals  – Spend time on the tightrope every day. Repeat the ritual and routine. Keep it predictable…well, as predictable as possible. Let those around you know the road you’re traveling, so you can reclaim your time for yourself and decline their requests until you’re free. If you get up everyday and repeat the same positive behaviours, you can’t help but increase your productivity and creativity. You’ll be flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

By consciously filling your days with both things you love and activities you MUST do, and being committed to the schedule, you create ritual and routine. Inform others of your plan and schedule their time separately…then they can’t clown with your calendar. Be committed to your own success by claiming your own time and stepping into the spotlight. Be the star of your own act.

Take a Bow,

Signature

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Command the Brand

Art BrandingCreatives have their plates full. I know you hear people say they wish they could hang out and (fill in the blank)________(write, draw, paint, sculpt, play music) all day, but they don’t know what you REALLY do.

Unless you’re a successful, established, uber lucky artist, chances are you’re doing some of your own branding, marketing and go-getting. I don’t have a “slave spouse” to run my business…I am my own slave. Don’t get me wrong, hubby is my biggest fan, but he doesn’t order supplies, create and order marketing materials, do my social media promotion, write press releases or even stage my installations – but he is willing to help hang them.

So, this week, prepare to get an earful of my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about how whatever you are, that’s not ALL you are! (click to Tweet)

I remember back in the day when I was a new coach. I had a discussion with a colleague about being a coach. I told her coaching was a tool, but you are a business owner first. She disagreed, and as a matter of fact, I believe the proclamation offended her. What I do know is this…

If I paint all day, every day, I will have a lot of paintings in my studio and no one will ever see them. (click to Tweet).

I have to market those suckers. I have to get them out into the light of day. Once dry, they need to be priced, photographed, catalogued, tracked, and SHOWN – otherwise, they are mine forever, and I do want them to go to good homes where other people can enjoy them. I have to let people know when and where to see them. I have to update my website, promote them on social media…the list goes on and on.

Sure, you can hire people to help you with some of these things…and you SHOULD get help rather than spending a full day Computer problemsdesigning a postcard, shipping your work, loading software (or whatever you’re banging your head against the keyboard trying to do).  I, personally, like the option of having access to my own website to update it, although I had a great developer help me when it was initially created. So, you pick and choose your chores – cuz you’re a grown up now!  But, let’s not reinvent the wheel every time, eh? Let’s work smarter, not harder so we can spend more time doing the work we love.

Given all the stuff we have to do besides honing our craft, I suggest the following platform for maximizing your branding efforts.

 Your Artist’s Statement is your Branding Platform. (click to Tweet).

Craft a comprehensive, concise and authentic artist statement. If you don’t know how, read last week’s blog post . Some of you requested “samples” and you may find them here.  Remember, not all the examples are good artist’s statements – so read the blog first, then see if you can tease out the pearls from the swine. (Hint: shorter is better…we’ll isn’t that terrific news?)

 Get clear on who you are and why you do what you do. Own it. Don’t chisel it in stone because we all change, the market changes, our art changes, “stuff” changes. The main thing is to be clear on who you are – now.  Like a geological formation, artist statements do evolve over time.

Now, take those few principles you’ve noted in your statement and use those to promote your branding.

  • Use part of it in a tagline for your business cards and other business materials, if that’s appropriate.
  •  Pick key phrases for postcards and other marketing materials.
  • Use your collectors’ favourite images of your work on promotional materials.
  •  Stay organized so you can find them these materials in a moments notice and won’t have to reinvent them.
  • Conduct yourself in accordance with your branding. This shouldn’t be a challenge since your statement is authentic, right? Walk the talk and be your brand.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and time-saving, so you might spend a bit more time doing the creative work that drives you. It’s always a balancing act, but you can have considerable command.

Command the Brand,

Signature

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Michelle Headshot plushy coatFacebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

 

Make a Statement – Writing the Artist’s Statement

Writing your artist's statementDisclaimer: No babies were eaten by sharks in the writing of this blogpost. 

Does the thought of writing an artist’s statement make you run for high ground? Sometimes, visual geniuses, like you, will not take swimmingly to the “fodder of word water.” For some, they find it cold and uninviting.

Artist’s statements are short statements written about your body of work. They demonstrate and communicate your deliberate intention when creating the work and give the viewer some insight into you, your process and the work they are viewing. It is simply what, why and how you do what you do.  None of it is too in depth. It is a concise statement – only one to two paragraphs – so people can feel like they know something about you and understand a bit about your work and the intention you had when creating it. The artist’s statement should be designed to make people want to see more of your work (click to Tweet).

To write a successful statement, you need to stay out of shark infested waters. The artist’s statement should not sound pseudo intellectual. Don’t get full of yourself and try to talk over people’s heads – it’s rude. Keep controversial statements and biographical details OUT of your artist’s statement. We have bios, resumes and statements of work to cover those bases. I KNOW, now it writing your artist's statementsounds like you’re writing a book, right? Nope. This is just an artist’s statement, but it’s the foundation of your work, personal vision and business. The artist’s statement is a blueprint for you to clarify your own goals and intentions and share them with galleries, museums, potential collectors, viewers and other artists – all of which are potential business partners!

Artist’s statements are fluid. They evolve over your career and are revised as you and your work grow. Their evolution serves as a fantastic, historical document of your career…oooh, that sounds scary. I shouldn’t have put that in…who wants to write one now? Don’t recoil! Here are some floatation tips that will have you free-styling in no time:

  • Your first draft is your first draft – it’s gesso – don’t sweat it (click to Tweet)
  • Write the statement in first person. It’s about you, so use the pronoun “I”
  • When writing, focus on your current body of work
  • This statement is a “small work” with BIG impact. 2 paragraphs should do it justice. If you’re really good, one paragraph can nail it. Grab the reader’s attention from the beginning.
  • Stick to what you do, how you do it and why. It’s about you and your artistic process.
  • After the first draft take some time away from your statement. Your fresh eyes will be an asset later.
  • Return to the statement to fill it with high impact words and prune the unnecessary details.
  • Ask people you trust to look it over for you. Make sure your spelling, grammar and context are good. If you’re really having trouble, get professional help. Many art organizations teach professional development classes.  I know, because I teach some of those classes.
  • Revisit your artist’s statement and revise it at least once a year or more often, as needed.
  • Include a picture. Of yourself. People like to see the artist.

So, go ahead, write your artist statement…just the first draft. Next week I’m adding to this foundational principle, so check again, or subscribe to the blog so you can learn how to maximize your branding.

Don’t Bail! Make a Statement!

Signaturef

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

The Nick of Time – Time Management Tips for Creatives

Time management
Time management
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

(This article was originally published in April, but with recent conversations, I think it may be a good time to reiterate the benefits of managing your time well.  ~ Enjoy)

“I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

“Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom.” (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard , “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

The Clock is Ticking!

Signature

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping them Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessimprove productivity teaching them to get out of their own way.

Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

 

 

Open Studio? Do Some Work to Make it Work!

Voyeur and art enthusiast that I am, I’ve always enjoyed open studio tours. This past weekend, I open studio tour stahosted my first one and, of course, I wanted it to be a success. I tried to keep an open mind when planning the event and think of some creative ways to produce good results. Since I’m a business consultant and an occasional party hostess, I applied that know-how to my event. I felt it went quite well, so I’ll share some tips as well as areas I’ll focus on improving next time.

Sign up early  – Read EVERYTHING the hosting organization sends you.  Our open studio tour was curated through CCAS – Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento. This organization is great with branding, marketing and creating reasonable and detailed guidelines for their artists. They had over 130 artists participate in the tours over 2 consecutive weekends. Since I was a newbie, I fell into line, read the communications and followed their wise guidelines. Sir, YES, SIR!

Work with other artists in your vicinity – I realized my studio is not in a high traffic area. To put it bluntly, I’m an outlier. To make the effort worthwhile, I contacted a group of artists nearby and suggested we meet to coordinate our marketing and PR efforts. This was an important step that led to increased success for all of us. The team members all had different strengths, we leveraged those and our efforts paid off with more traffic and sales. Everyone  I worked with was incredible. I made new friends!

Write a press release – Submit it to community calendars of publications in your area and submit it to local papers. We were fortunate to have photos of our work and our artist statements published in a local paper.

Provide written materials to the public before and at your opening – CCAS provides lovely, professional guides with maps for artists to distribute. Many artists aren’t natural marketers, but passing out these guides, postcards and other professionally done materials raises community awareness. Local merchants were happy to help. Send “Save the Date” cards. Be sure to include dates, times and maps. Notice, I keep bolding the word maps. Maps. Maps. Maps.

Use social media to promote your event – Broadcast the event through social media channels. Don’t drive people crazy…but mention it early and send a few consecutive reminders as the event date approaches. It’s your event, so naturally, it’s a big deal to you…other people may be more apt to forget, so gently remind them. Also take advantage of e-mail by sending your subscriber list an early announcement and a couple reminders as the date approaches. You may also use regular mail for your personal postcards that include, you got it, maps

prepare materialsPrepare the materials you will be offering for sale – For original works, don’t wait until the event is imminent to begin creating, you don’t need the stress! Need some time management tips? If you “Join the Tribe” by signing up for updates on my sidebar, that advice is this month’s free gift! Give yourself plenty of lead time to get giclees, prints, greeting cards, business cards and other materials printed and organized. Allow plenty of time if you decide to have your work professionally photographed. Make sure product quality is good. Your reputation is on the line.

Offer multiple price points –  Don’t be disappointed if people don’t buy original work. Offer items at various price points to suit everyone’s budget. Greeting cards, totes and other items featuring images of your favourite works, giclee prints and original art in various sizes are good options. Offer something for everyone.

Be easy to buy from – Make the purchasing process seamless. For more on this check here. Make sure you have change, receipt pads and Square or Paypal processing ready to go so you can handle debit and credit cards! Keep it organized. It’s a good idea to take inventory before and after the event or use your gallery management software.

Clean your space! – Don’t open the doors and invite people in to your disarray! That is RUDE! Stage your work and make your Clean space for open studiostudio presentable. Offer a demonstration so you can teach people something new. For my opening I had a hands-on project inviting people to nip and place  mosaic tile. I teach workshops in beginning mosaics, so participants were able to determine their level of interest and join a sign up sheet!

Know who’s coming – Have a registry available and encourage visitors to sign it. It’s a good idea to find out why they stopped by. How did they hear about you? Knowing what brought you visitors helps you plan a strategy for getting even more next time.

SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE! – Have signage that clearly directs people to the studio. Start at main arteries and work your way in to your location. You want to be easy to find.

Warm it up – Provide simple, yummy refreshments and consider putting them toward the end of the trail so all your work will be viewed. Let people know they are there. Play appropriate music, greet people warmly. Be available to answer questions or tell the background story of your work. It’s a good idea to have a wingman in case you get crazy busy. This person can greet guests, answer simple questions, process sales or help get additional items you may need. My husband is my wingman and he is awesome. Sweetheart, if you’re reading, you’re awesome!

Take photographs – Chronicle the event. This was a fail-point for me. I didn’t take enough pictures of the activity, although I had photos of the work, the space and some great photos with visitors.

Express gratitude – Thank people for stopping by. Send thank you notes to your collectors after the event. Be grateful for every visitor that stopped by, whether they stayed and purchased work or not. They took THEIR time to see YOUR work. Grateful. 

Evaluate – After the event remember the steps you took. Do you feel successful? What could you have done to improve traffic, sales or the customer experience? Make notes and remember, be patient. It takes time to build a clientele. Next time is another opportunity to do it even better!

I hope my tips are helpful to you. If there’s an activity you do that produces good results, feel free to share it with us in a blog comment.

May you be creative in all endeavors!

irritation

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity teaching them to get out of their own way.

Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

(This is a repost from July of 2013. The information is still relevant today…feel free to comment or share the post with others who may benefit. ~m)

I work alone.  Mostly, I write alone. I paint alone, and that’s the way I like it. Sometimes I’m coaching others, and I really love it.  However, most of my day is spent in my own company…and I’m an extrovert. I think. I was.

I have conversations with my “Studio Dogs.”(click to Tweet). We listen to music in the studio and I sometimes dance with them. Maybe I talk to them too much. They don’t complain.

Life can get lonely for those of us who spend our days with ourselves. Nothing to break the monotony. This doesn’t mean we aren’t positively content. What it does mean is we can miss out on joyful exchanges outside ourselves. We can get stuck in our creative heads and are perfectly fine, happy, joyful there. Too much of that can’t be a good thing, me thinks. I have no proof, but just feel it in my bones.

I suggest the following to break up the day, get out of the studio, office or wherever you’re working solo. It’ll keep you healthily involved in the big world out there.

Find or Create a Tribe – A group of like-minded people (and some not so like you) to share ideas, experiences laughs with. Brainstorm with them and support one another. When I worked as an OD consultant a group of us would meet once a month for a little snack and coffee and share thoughts on a concept or idea. We built friendships and had some fun. Currently, I have a blog writing partner I meet every Wednesday morning. We keep each other honest. Artists, writers and  creatives benefit from these types of groups and partnerships.Birds on wire

Work in a Public Space – I don’t mean napping in the park here. Write in a coffee shop. Paint plein air. Photograph the world. Get out and mingle. Your life will be richer (click to Tweet).

Check out Meet Ups – I went to a great one last night. It was for speakers. We practiced our skills and shared some key business building points. Fantastic and powerful stuff! You might have to try a few before you find your perfect fit. They come small, big, loud, quiet…check them out at www.meetup.com

Take a Retreat – If something sparks your passion, spend some time away from your business and recharge at a retreat that embraces that topic.  Much more than relaxing is involved. Your network will grow, your skills will get honed, you’ll create memories and recharge. Red Solo CupTip – don’t choose a silent or solitary retreat. (Duh)

Be PresentWherever you go…BE.THERE. (click to Tweet) Go to the Grocery Store. Be present there. Post Office? Be present there. As you run your daily errands get to know people’s names, spark up light conversation. Noticing the world around you is a great way to gain creative inspiration. Not only that, being present outside your head is a healthy hiatus.

Create Meaningful Routine and Ritual – Schedule time each day to get out of the studio or office. One of the benefits to being self-employed is the flexibility it allows. Take advantage of this and make it a routine. Schedule yoga or the gym regularly. Every Thursday spend the afternoon with a friend at the museum or galleries, for example. Sometimes, if you’re in the middle of a project, it’s hard to pull yourself away, but the break keeps us fueled. Be disciplined and do it!

What do you do? How do you fill your solo cup? You have a Tribe here (see, you can join it on the sidebar). I’d love you to share your ideas of how you build balance into your days. I invite you to start the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

Signature

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

             Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

The Urge to Purge

Clutter 2Clutter

You have it. That “stuff”  you leave in your wake, the constant reminder there is unfinished business, loose ends, a mess, you’re not perfect.

Well, guess what? You’re not perfect. I like you that way. I like me that way, too. We are proof of the human condition (click to Tweet).

That clutter, though…it blocks the creative spirit. It clogs the flow of new ideas, prosperity, harmony. Clutter sucks. It comes in various forms. There’s the physical clutter…on your desk, your dresser, the kitchen counter. It’s unsightly and makes you feel….ick. Too much makes it hard to breathe.

Clutter also comes in the emotional form. The figurative toilet paper you drag around on your shoe. Worries you have about what you can’t control. An off handed, insensitive comment someone made. Comparison to other people, their work, their accomplishments, their opportunities, their opinions, their stuff. Their CLUTTER! Clutter envy…gawd! (Click to Tweet)

Gutter clutter. That’s right! In. Your. Gut. From the movie popcorn, late night ice cream, stress cheeseburgers. You know you do it…occasionally. You clutter your God given temple with junk…to make yourself feel better. To relieve the emotional clutter. And it stays. Fatty deposits on your thighs, hips, belly. You pollute your body the same way you do your office, your studio, your mind.

Clutter 3There are so many types of clutter. Concept clutter. Financial clutter (better known as debt). Obligatory clutter (say “no” much?). Clutter occurs when we fail to take care of OUR business as we should. We do not make it a priority to keep our lives, bodies, environment clean. Guilt is clutter…so, please, don’t feel guilty about this. You’ll just add to the clutter. And as cluttered as we are, we certainly don’t want to be, ahem, HORDERS!

The clutter is okay. We are human. We clutter, but we also organize. Ewwww, that’s a bad “O” word, isn’t it? But, for the pain organization causes, albeit temporarily, organizing also creates a freedom. A clarity. A knowing – especially a knowing of where we put stuff!

So, how to manage?

First, make sure you have the tools to do the job. It depends upon what you aim to declutter. You may need file folders. A therapist. A nutrionist. A coach (I am one). A personal trainer. A dumpster. So, decide what you’re cleaning up and get the right tools. Create a system. Identify a “Home” for your stuff, a home where you’ll be able to find it upon demand. Create a system you LIKE. This is important. If the system is too complex or laborious, you’ll avoid using it.  Got it? Good!!!

Ready to get to work? If you’re a heavy clutterer, try one step at a time. It’s kind of like a 12-Step program for clutterers. If it’s easier for you, 15 minutes a day of decluttering. Start with the most obvious clutter. Seeing progress will be encouraging and you’ll gain momentum. If you’re bringing in reinforcements, like a professional organizer, a therapist, or a nutritionist, they can help you work this through.

If you’re the warrior type, you may choose to simply plow through the clutter. I tend to execute this way. Just take your medicine. It’sOrganized 7 a bitter pill, but it CURES! (Click to Tweet). I find plowing easiest because the process is fast. I don’t linger over each “object” and its fate because I build some momentum, which drives the process. Put on some rockin’ tunes, put your head down, GO!

If you’d like a specific model for executing each piece of clutter, please click here. You’ll get a lovely, simple document that helps you keep it simple – just for joining the “Tribe.” As you touch each piece of clutter, you’ll have an automatic, pre-ordained answer.

As a general rule, if you haven’t used something for over a year, it’s junk. UNLESS IT’S TAX RELATED. Keep business documents in a banker box…you know…just in case.  Label it with the year. Also, clutter that is not emotionally charged is easier to deal with. Address that stuff first. If you’re dealing with emotionally charged or “memory” clutter, the plow method works to build some rhythm. That way you won’t agonize over each object – at least not as much as you could.Organized 4 ever

Clean house! It feels good. It creates a path for new possibilities, mental clarity, abundance. It leaves you light and free. It creates a harmonious space for your to relax, enjoy life, employ audacious creativity.

Afterwards – Now, you have a system, please use it EVERYDAY to maintain your clutter free life. You may slip from time to time, and that’s okay. You’re human. But take care of your business – you deserve this! Embrace the urge to purge!!!

Keep it Tidy!

Signaturef

 

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to Coaching pic  - Version 3their joyful hearts.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

Look ! You got to the END of the blogpost. Congratulations to you!  It’s kind of like those out-takes at the movies after the credits roll. So SPECIAL FOR YOU – A 10% discount on all July Coaching Packages – use promo code – MOliver

 

As Good As Goaled

Magical bookMany years ago, I opened a volume of poetry and prayers and a colourful, folded, Post-It note fell out. On this paper I had written 5 things I wanted to accomplish. I’d  written them, tucked them into the book and forgotten all about them. They incubated on the bookshelf for 2 years, then, voila, were rediscovered. DONE. COMPLETE. FINITO.

Has this ever happened to you? When it does, it feels like there’s some divine purpose behind it. I’ve experienced this phenomenon multiple times and when it happens, I’m always surprised at how my life has moved in the direction of the intent.  The simple act, the intention, written on a piece of paper has a kind of power in itself. It works.

I’m a coach, who is also an artist, and have spent years in corporate leadership. I’ve learned a few things about goal setting and I’ve witnessed plenty of successes (and failures). While the note hiding method is often successful, in my daily business I’d hate to rely on it 100%.  Goals without documentation are simply “wishes.” And wishes, my friends, get lost on the wind.

It’s true.

Solo-preneurs, artists, self-employed, hardworking peasants, we all have so much to do, so many hats to wear and so many If its important picexcuses at our disposal for not getting things done. It’s easy to fudge. No one is watching.  No one will tattle. Sometimes, something has to give, so we sacrifice our art, our business, our to do list…because we are the ones with the “flexibility.” Sooner or later the knowledge we do not fulfill self-made promises slowly erodes our sense of accomplishment, the health of our business and our self respect.

That’s true, too.

I like numbers. They’re definite. Here are some interesting ones:

  • Simply thinking about your goals will give you an average 43% chance of achieving them.
  •  If you want something and write it down with a detailed commitment,  you’ll be 64% more likely to succeed.
  •  If you write your goal down with a detailed commitment, share it with a trusted advisor and state a date to report back,  your likelihood of accomplishing your goal jumps to 76%! BAM!!!                                         

SMART goals pic

    Source – Dominican College of California

I’ve read statistics that are even higher for the last option….like 94%! But, writing your goals isn’t enough. Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive. You know, SMART.  “I will work for 6 hours in my studio, 4 days a week on art producing activities and complete 1,500 works per month. “Is it SMART? Mostly it is, except if I only have 96 hours a month of production time, I’m probably NOT going to finish 1,500 pieces. So, I need to make some adjustments. 12 pieces? YES! 20 pieces? Maybe. Stretch yourself a bit. This is personal, it’s about you and it’s about you pushing yourself “just enough.” It has to hurt a little. It’s the rule. Especially for me…a recovering Catholic and recovering perfectionist.

Think of what you want to do with your talents, your ideas, your business. Create goals specific to support these dreams. Then, approach each day with a “To Do List” that supports the goals you’ve set to drive your business, develop your skill sets and address other relevant issues. Work on it. Everyday. Report the outcome to the person you told about the plan. Check it out! Now, you run the risk of actual SUCCESS.

So, focus on what you want to achieve. Create a SMART goal driven game plan, go to work and be persistent and at the end of the day, reward yourself for staying on track by sipping the sweet nectar of success.

You’re as good as goaled.

Signature

 

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to Coaching pic  - Version 3their joyful hearts.♥

Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

Driven to Distraction – 6 Strategies for Creatives to Get More Done

Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

 

I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom. (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

Git ‘er Done!

Signature

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter