Research and Development in my Arts Practice

Apart from presenting a Kids’ Own Publishing bookmaking workshop for children who were in ‘Out of School Hours Care’, this month’s activities on my Arts journey have mostly been in the area of research and development.

That R&D has been focussed on business formation and requirements. Although it is wonderful to pursue artistic creation; if I want to make a living from my art, it is necessary to lay strong foundations and build a solid structure. Hence my timeout, but I must say I am missing the making.

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I’ve also noticed my creative juices pour when I am doing something else. Perhaps it has something to do with forbidden fruit. I’m not one to waste an idea, so between business meetings, reading books and blogs, listening to webinars and podcasts, and doing an online course, I have jotted and sketched ideas in my journal and scribed a poem or ten – all first draft, of course, for I must keep my eye on my goal.

The impetus for working on this now is the next round of the ArtStart Grant that will seed the careers of successful applicants in the early years after their graduation from college. For me, one of the best things about the ArtStart Grant was not getting it the first time I applied. It made me look at my plans more closely and reconsider what is important and other ways to do things.

Now, as I work on my second application, I am really excited. My vision is clearer than before and I am confident about every step. Why? Here’s what I did after receiving the rejection letter:

* I read the judges’ report
* Booked a feedback appointment – only available in January, a month or so later
* Revised my application and looked at what I could do now
* Hired a self storage locker with 24 hour surveillance – a commitment I’m meeting with money from selling my art.
* Learnt about effective goal setting and studied the strategies of successful people
* Enrolled in and followed the exercises of an online course for artists, delivered by the owner of Xanadu Gallery
* Discovered the benefits of publishing an eBook to build my brand, or a hard copy as a folio
* Attended a small business meeting run by the government
* Subsequently, had a 1:1 VECCI mentoring session
* Revised notes from a Business Planning Basics workshop
* Worked on my business plan
* Researched online marketing and using social media
* and learnt how to build a platform before my launch date
* Learnt about working in public to build a positive relationship with people who would be interested what I create as well as how I do it
* Explored online tools such as Quantcast.com; Google Trends; LeadPages;Survey Monkey and more.

I have immersed myself in online tuition of all sorts as well as continuing to meet with real world business people and practicing artists. I even accepted a place on the committee of SECAN (South Eastern Contemporary Arts Network).

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I’ve also had work in two group exhibitions and one solo exhibition. I’ve sold some art and continued with my role on the Shire’s … You get the idea. I’m not going to list it all here.
Basically, I’ve been busy working on my business while I awaited my next opportunity to apply for funding.

The result has been positive. Rather than being depressed about my first application, I have used my time and my own Arts savings to invest in my Arts practice. By keeping the forward momentum I continue to be a part of many exciting community projects; and I have been offered three exhibitions this year – one in a new medium so I can explore and develop further in that area.

It is all very exciting and I am enjoying the process. Are you enjoying what you are doing? Tell me about it in the comments below. I love hearing from people who are passionate about what they are doing.

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