Back to Formula

As we say goodbye to 2010, I have to be honest and say that this year ended with a fizzle.

Sales were down, conventions were slow, and I hit the biggest burnout of my professional career thus far around mid-year. I lost my urge to draw and escaped to the loving arms of leather crafting (which proved surprisingly lucrative and therapeutic).  I started to think I’d never be able to keep up with competition.  I had so much to learn and a to-do list that never seemed to shrink.  The Muse seemed to have flown the coop permanently.

And that is when I realized something.  I’m the boss here, not the Muse!  I show up for work every day and the Muse generally mosies in after coffee and emails.  The hardest part for me lately is showing up for work, sitting down at the art desk, and at least attempting to get those ideas down on paper, regardless of any intended success or failure.  This, I realize, is the state of being an artist for a living.  Uninspired or not, it is time to work!  You must preserve a state of blind optimism that the inspiration will come and that you are a professional, whether the so-called Muse flies in that that day or not.  Your art, whatever market you target, will equal returns of some sort and a feeling of satisfaction that makes the job worthwhile.

(I imagine the real problem would be if the inspiration or satisfaction in my work never comes. Then it might be time to consider other career paths.)

And so I have decided to take this year back to formula.  I started this business of art with the firm belief that I had something I wanted to share with the world, that what I wanted to share was worth noting.  What I have here is fantastic!  Fabulous!  Phenomenal!  Awe-inspiring, and, yes, maybe even worth paying for!

In this new year, I endeavor to do the following:

  • Keep whittling down the art to-do list, even if it never shrinks.
  • Explore digital media without fear of ‘sucking big time’!
  • Don’t shy away from ambitious projects just because they won’t make money NOW.
  • Start charging what I’m worth for the time put into my masks! Apparently I charge too little…
  • Return to nature!  It always gets me inspired, even if it’s just sitting on our dock meditating for awhile.
  • Go to the museum more.  We have a membership and I barely use it.
  • Read more. My visual and mental vocabulary need expanding!
  • Join my local art society and stop being such an introvert! (Or worrying that my work won’t fit in) 

What do you plan to do in this new year?  Who’s the boss in your studio, you or the Muse?

How many of you thought of Spider-Man when you saw the post title?


  1. alexandra says:

    I’ve actually come up with not just a New Year’s Resolution for my art, but I guess it’s more of a “from now on” thing. I’ve had some non artists answer “do digital painting!” When I say “I wish my stuff was that detailed.” when looking at some fantastic digital artist. I’ve decided it *is* possible for traditional artists to be that detailed, and I’m going to do it. Now this means going back to my Men in Kilts Series I began in November and adding in more detail!!
    Also, I plan on creating more pieces so that I have a nice beefy amount of art to sell at Sherwood Forest Faire in 2012!

    And I have to say, I’ve begun to take over when my muse is absent. I have too many unfinished pieces to let her absence bring me down.

  2. alexandra says:

    Also, I think your list is fantastic, and I think especially joining the local art group will get you good networking, which will lead to more sales. I haven’t joined one yet, either, but my boyfriend’s stepmother is an artist, and its working for her! And don’t feel shy about joining a new group, take the chance!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been doing a good amount of commission work, so the muse has little saying on my drawing or not. I have too many projects started that need finishing for me to listen to her. However this last semester has been rough on me and art because of the pregnancy, but this is about to change as of today. I gave myself vacation time till today and that means that today the arting starts again. I might be slower than before with the preparations for the new family member, but I’ll sit down every day to do art.

  4. Indigene says:

    My motto is “Show Up”. Show up to create, even if the muse is on vacation. Show up for new projects, because sometimes others don’t and you wind up being a successful leader in the project! You’re an amazing artist, and that means high times and low days! Keep showing up, you’re a winner already!

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