For most people, the beginning of a new year feels like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. After getting a break, it seems one should feel well-rested, full of inspiration, and enthusiastic to begin new work. And yet, after the festive season ends, artists often find that getting back into an effective working schedule is a real uphill struggle. That spark, which normally makes the creative process a joy, is just not quite there.
Everyone finds it difficult to get back into their daily routine after any kind of extended break. But in some ways, artists have to face extra challenges in this area. For one thing, most artists work alone, which means that they create their own incentives.
With self-made deadlines, it can be particularly hard to inspire yourself to work. Additionally, because the work is so inherently creative, the disruption from your productivity can create a big roadblock for inspiration. If you’re not feeling inspired, then how can you create? This doesn’t mean that you have to sweat over your art, but what really makes the difference is hard work. Inspiration is essential, but only a part of the picture.
Here are 10 Creative New Year’s Resolutions prepared by our experts to help you get a fresh start in the New Year:
New Year’s Resolution #1 – Do What You Can, When You Can
As soon as you have an idea or see something that interests or inspires you, you need to save it. You can take a picture or write it down; artist Debra Fitzsimmons writes that she compiles her written ideas: “If you are constantly collecting ideas and supportive materials for ideas, you will always have something to bring to your art… it is important to get out in nature, visit a gallery or a museum, anything that will open up your mind to fresh ideas.”
New Year’s Resolution #2 – Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Give yourself small, manageable tasks. The hardest part of the creative process is getting started but once you get over that initial hurdle, the rest will flow naturally. We advise you start off with some smaller tasks to ease yourself back into your work. Don’t make the mistake of starting that large canvas you’ve been eyeing up since before the break; if you’re not in the right mindset it can make getting back into work seem like an extremely daunting task.
Alternatively, if you can present yourself with individual jobs, things that must be decided, developed, or done, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by what’s ahead of you. This will help you feel more confident, and in no time you’ll be ready to tackle the bigger projects.
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New Year’s Resolution #3 – Take Time to Look at the Bigger Picture
Another great tip for facing the new year head-on is to take some time to look at the bigger picture. This might seem like we’re contradicting ourselves, but in order to be able to break down the challenges into smaller tasks, you need to have a good idea of what is ahead of you. Give some thought to your career. What stage are you at? What direction would you like to go in? Consider your current techniques and themes. How can you freshen them up? Would you like to change them completely? Once you have a clear sense of where you are and where you want to be, you can start working out how to get there.
It’s important to note that this applies to all the aspects of your art career, from the actual creative work, to the supplies you use, the sources of your inspiration, and your promotional and networking activities.
New Year’s Resolution #4 – Go Shopping!
Are your brushes getting spiky and less precise than they used to be? Are you running out of your favorite kind of sketchbook paper? Are you looking around and realizing that there are fewer found objects and fun, random textures than you’d like? It’s easy to put off buying new tools because you can carry on without them for quite some time, but now is the time to upgrade and replace your materials.
Stocking up on the things you need (and a few that you may not need, but want to treat yourself to) is a great way to persuade yourself that you’re ready to start working again. Many artists find the task of shopping for supplies inspirational in itself! Seeing materials in the store can get you thinking of new projects and ideas that may have otherwise passed you by. When you return to the studio with your materials and new-found inspiration, you’ll find yourself more than ready to get started.
New Year’s Resolution #5 – Try something new
The new year is a great time to branch out and try new things. If there is a new technique or style you’ve been wanting to attempt for some time, go for it! If not, this is the time to experiment. By working with something new, you can learn more about your established processes and discover how to improve your methods. And, sometimes it’s just fun to experiment! Try some variations on your usual themes, or even try your hand at a completely new medium. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself or your skills – just enjoy yourself and see what happens.
New Year’s Resolution #6 – Try something old
Are there techniques you used in the past that you’ve moved away from more recently? Sometimes it can be invigorating to revisit your previous work. By taking a fresh look at some of your forgotten styles and techniques, you will learn about your own journey as an artist, and you may be able to create something completely new and different. Think of it as a collaboration between your past self and your current self.
Whether you end up turning back to your newer departures with relief, revisiting old series and styles, or finding a new direction in your work, this exercise will undoubtedly get you thinking more about your process and approaching your art with more confidence.
New Year’s Resolution #7 – Get in touch with what inspires you
Go back to the source. This may mean walking around your neighborhood, going to concerts or art galleries, or spending time with the people you know. Whatever your decision, by getting back to the source of inspiration, you will always find something new to muse about. Arrange to meet other artists you know, either at gallery opening receptions, workshops or shared studio time, or simply for a cup of coffee and a chat. Get those juices flowing with shared inspiration and creativity!
New Year’s Resolution #8 – Work on Your Studio
It’s all too easy to ignore the atmosphere in your creative workspace, but you may find that improving the space itself will help you start concentrating on your art in a new way. Tidy up and arrange everything so you can find what you need when you need it. Clean your tools, and arrange your materials in whatever way is most convenient for you and the way you work. Make sure you have abundant light and everything you need at hand. A cluttered workspace is a cluttered mind!
New Year’s Resolution #9 – Make Time for Your Art
There’s one crucial thing that we haven’t discussed yet, and that’s making time for your art. None of the above advice will work unless you dedicate sufficient time toward your creations. Whether art is your full-time job or a beloved hobby, if you want your work to develop you need to give it the time to do so. That means setting time aside every day solely for your art. Turn your phone off, close the door, and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign so you cannot be interrupted. Forcing yourself to keep to a schedule is the most important way to get yourself moving forward as an artist. Even if you have no inspiration, take this time and force yourself to create something. You never know when the creativity might strike.
New Year’s Resolution #10 – Make Time to Promote Your Art
If you’re serious about extending your reach and ensuring people know about your art, you also have to set time aside for marketing and promotional activities. This can be compiling a newsletter to send to your mailing list, putting cards in local shops, developing contacts in the media, or any number of other things you can do to market your work.
Approach galleries, dealers, or agents. Consider joining art fairs or entering your work to art competitions. The Chelsea International Fine Art Competition, which Agora Gallery hosts every year, is a great example of an art competition with awards that are designed to help artists to increase their exposure and develop their career.
Avoid getting overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once. Create a schedule for the year to ensure you approach each task in an orderly fashion. These goals can sometimes be daunting, but they are a necessary part of being a successful artist. Start off with research to get an idea of what you need to do. Before you approach galleries and start entering your portfolio, enjoy the research process, expand your knowledge of the art world, and get a feeling for where you’d like to go next.
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Ultimately, getting back into your creative routine is up to you. If you set aside time for your art and follow these resolutions, you should soon slip back into your routine and be well on the way to creating your next masterpiece.
With over 30 years of experience representing artists from around the world, Agora Gallery offers artists the opportunity to present their work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers. Visit our Gallery Representation and Artist Promotion page for more information.