Productivity is indispensable.
- Do you want to be the best artist you can be?
- Do you want to make as much money as you can from your art?
Whether you desire being highly creative or or earning a generous income, or both, productivity is an essential ingredient. It comes down to this: if you want to make more money and continually improve your skills, you have to make more art.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. — Pablo Picasso
Experience proves the power of productivity.
During my 25 years in the art business. I’ve known many artists from millionaires to those barely making it. In observing those who by their measure of success, whether money, fame or the satisfaction of making art that readily sells, I’ve found productivity the most common trait.
What is productivity?
A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs. Productivity is computed by dividing average output per period by the total costs incurred or resources (capital, energy, material, personnel) consumed in that period. Productivity is a critical determinant of cost efficiency. – courtesy of the business dictionary.
Okay, that’s pretty dense egghead jargon. To my mind, productivity, as it relates to artists, comes down to making art steadily. It is about finding efficient ways to cut down on the mechanical aspects of making art.
It is about making judicious, quick decisions about the entire process. Starting with choosing subject matter, color scheme, size of the art, and materials then working to get the intended result in as little time with as little effort as possible..
Quality in art comes out of experimentation.
In most cases, before and after they became successful and wealthy or both, the successful artists I’ve known made a ton of art. They were driven to make more art because they knew it helped them improve as an artist, and that having more art gave variety to their collectors. How many haystacks did Monet paint?
Productivity is a universal aspect of creativity.
I don’t know if it’s true, but would not be surprised if it were, but it’s been said Bruce Springsteen had written 1,500 songs before he recorded his first album. Bob Dylan was so prolific, especially in his early 20s that 50 years later a box of song lyrics from the 1960s was found. Choosing from among dozens of Dylan’s song lyrics, a group of musicians assembled by producer, T Bone Burnett, including Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford, recorded The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River. It was released in late 2014.
Pablo Picasso arguably is the most prolific artist of all time. It estimated he created 50,000 works of art in his lifetime. That is a long way from the 1,000 piece career average (33 pieces per year x 30 years) that I talk about in my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. Picasso’s oeuvre gives you an idea of what is possible on the high end of the productivity scale.
Successful artists are productive artists.
The theme here is that successful artists create lots of work. It is the only way to hone your craft. Making art is as much a mechanical process as it is a creative one. Your creativity might inform how you want your artwork to look like as a finished piece, but your mechanical aptitude will determine your ability to see it through to fruition.
Your creativity helps you find new ways to make new art. Improving your art making techniques helps you churn out more art. Embedded in each new piece of art is an improvement in your skills. It is the drive to succeed that invigorates artists to stay busy when the tedium of the mechanical process kicks in.
Making art is not always easy or fun.
I can tell you from firsthand experience from my fine woodworking days there was exhilaration in conceiving a piece of furniture and watching how it became a beautiful finished piece due to my artistry and skill.
Still, sometimes I could barely stand the monotony. Sanding and finishing make all the difference in a how a piece of handcrafted furniture looks. Nevertheless, the work involved in that part of the process was mind-numbingly tedious to me. I never let that part stop me from finishing a piece.
Had I gone into woodworking as a profession, which I seriously considered, I would have worked diligently to ramp up my income so I could hire out the tedious work. There is a lesson for you in that concept, which is to come to work everyday thinking about how to replace yourself. What are you doing now that you can pay someone else to do for you?
Discovery is part of the creative process.
Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just get to work. – Chuck Close
If you want to improve your art, you have to make more art. You can imagine how a piece will work, but you won’t know until you get to work. If you want to grow as an artist, you cannot sit still. I nearly always found something in the doing that was fun and unexpected. A straight line might give way to a curve in a place where I had not planned on it with the unintended result more appealing than I conceived in my initial vision and drawings .
The only to make more money as an artist is to sell more work. Duh!
You instinctively know you have to have enough work to sell to make your business profitable. In addition, you have to work steadily at creating art in order to fill the demand.
First things first.
It’s a linear process. That is you first need to make compelling work in sufficient quantity and with ongoing and improving productivity capabilities before you spend your time and money marketing your work on creating demand you cannot meet.
You should measure to know where you are in the process to honestly evaluate your current production capabilities. If you are confident this area of your art career is under control, it is a good time to start looking for ways to create more demand for your increased ability to turn out more work.
Ready to get started marketing?
If you have production under control and need help with how to create more demand for your art, here are a couple of options for you. Purchase my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. (It’s available for as little as $9.99 on Kindle.)
Alternatively, join my 8-Steps to Art Marketing Master Workshop. The live sessions have begun, but all are recorded and available 24/7 with lifetime access. As such, you can catch up or choose to learn at your own pace.