Hello! Welcome to my blog, “Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”.
I’m a Career & Life Coach for artists and other creative people. I’m based in the San Francisco Bay Area but work with artists throughout the U. S. and all over the world.
This is the seventh installment of my blog, where we’re reviewing a checklist of 10 behaviors that are characteristic of successful artists.
Use the checklist (“Free Tips for Artists” link) to see how you’re doing.
Checklist for a Successful Art Career (26 KB)
Don’t worry—nobody does everything every day. The goal is to build more of these behaviors into your own life, whenever you can.
Let’s take a look at question #7, “My work has a signature style or content.”
I once met a painter who was having her first show at a local nonprofit art center. She had rented a small gallery space, and the walls were covered with paintings. I’m afraid my first question said it all: “Is this a group show?” It was not.
Later we laughed about my question, but it opened up an important issue for emerging artists. The paintings were all over the place—in subject matter, palette, style and composition. The paintings were so different that they could have been made by a dozen artists.
So why is this a problem? Think about the well-known artists you admire. You’re not likely to mistake a Cezanne for a Picasso, partly because their work is so completely and compellingly their own. These artists are now iconic because they spent years developing their “signature”. This is also true of established contemporary artists.
When you’re just starting out you do need to experiment in order to discover who you are as an artist. Your work may well be “all over the place” because you need to experiment in order to grow. But as you mature your work becomes more and more coherent. You may seem to be exploring the same ground, or the same ideas, because you are going deeper. If you allow yourself to keep going in this direction, your work becomes more consistent, more subtle and complex. It is also more recognizable as YOU, even before your name is well known.
In the next blog I’ll consider question #8 on the checklist: “I’m clear about the goals for my art practice.”
Mary Edwards, Ph.D.
Career & Life Coach for Artists