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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 3 of 22

Actionable Goals to Achieve Your Dream


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 3 of 22

Actionable Goals to Achieve Your Dream


Lesson Info

Actionable Goals to Achieve Your Dream

What did it feel like to dream big or to be able to write down your big goals? Well, let me ask first for how many of you, at least in the studio audience, was that the first time you'd ever done that written them down? All right, we got, like, three, three or four people awesome the rest of you that you're actually already doing that because you'd be surprised how many people don't actually, they might have their their big goals and dreams in their head, but they haven't actually written them down and there's a lot of power in writing things down. Um, and one of the reasons that that's important is this idea of getting what's in your head on paper somehow is an action step, and so I would really encourage you to use the worksheets or use your own paper in this next segment and start writing things down. Um, actually start writing some things down because it's a really important step, and then by the end, you'll have the beginnings of a to do list for tomorrow any any anybody else in t...

he class wanna share any of their big goals from their vision map before we dive into intermediate goals? Sure, alright, so passing like down tell us your name and what your big, whatyou dio and what your goals are hello, my name is natalie my nacho and I am an artist and an illustrator on one of my big goals is to be able to comfortably donate five percent of my profits too charitable causes and that's like a huge thing for me philanthropy has always been a big goal for me so that's one of my like big overarching goals author and I'm so glad you brought that up because the next thing we're going to do actually before we dive into intermediate goals is talk about core values and that goal comes from natalie score value are out giving back right and so that's that's really, really important all right, let me let me show you this little graphic that it's a big graphic um we're going to keep referring back to this in almost every segment, so we already talked about the center, which is what I can do this like the core belief I got this I can do this, I can reach my goals right outside of that is this area called research goal setting in planning all super important. So for example, in the next segment I'm calling that a research segment we're going to talk about the world of fine art, so if you don't know a whole lot this might you know a whole lot about that world this might be an interesting place for you toe listen in and learn and do research about and ask questions about that world um we're already working on setting goals and we're already making some plans but what happens if we stay in that rung if all we do is research and write our goals down not a whole lot right we need to move to action and so by the end of this segment we're going to start writing down some action steps that you can actually take action on because some of your goals are goingto feel too big they have to be broken down into smaller steps and a lot of what's hard is because is that you don't always know what your steps should be like you know you want to get there but you just don't know what you're supposed to dio and so I'm here to answer questions about that I don't know what you're supposed to do in every situation, but I do know some things a lot of the information about that is in my book are the experts that I'm bringing on cancer questions so I also want you to feel comfortable to ask questions of of any of us about just the nuts and bolts of what you should do to reach a certain goal if you're if you're not sure okay, so we're gonna keep coming back to this all right just to review from the vision mouth we're gonna work backwards we're going to stop in a moment to assess our core values I'm going to go through this exercise with gabby again and then we're going to practice setting intermediate goals, which are also relatively big goals, but they're not his biggest like the goals that you just brainstormed and we'll wrap up with actionable test so that's what this segment is about and we'll also be stopping to answer questions so online audience any questions you have? You guys feel free to raise your hand even while I'm talking alright, so happy to start opening over the conversation all right now because we do have lots of these new people joining a chat room sharing some goals I want to read a couple and I want to hear so stacy leech cornell says my vision map shows that my goals are pretty big number one family sustaining income number two gallery representation out of state number three licensing work number four publishing a book and five instate an international artist residencies and six to me and work with kiki smith and number seven to exhibit at the whitney so very I know stacy, I know stacy can do all of her she's amazing we have a few more beatrice clay is from new york city and they say the big goal is to get a studio where I could make bigger messes and provide open art classes and making sessions and then coastal nicole says my goal after having my daughter one and a half years ago is to leave substitute teaching for a full time art career is a fine artist joing in galleries and creating an online shop fantastic yeah, really exciting dreams out there. Um that's great thank you for sharing those hi beatrice I know be interested. All right, so this is the chart that you may use though you should not feel confined by anything that I'm giving you you were all visual people and if this flow chart doesn't not make sense to you or you'd like to draw it in some other way feel free the idea here is that we are actually working from one giant goal on your vision map and we're going to then, um break that down into some intermediate goals and then into actionable tasks. But before we do that, one of the things I talk about in art inc is really making sure that whatever you sign up to do in your life is aligned with your core values and by core values in this case I mean values around making and selling your work for example let's say that um you want to become a licensing artist or a commercial artist who licenses her illustrations or her artwork to go on products but it's important to you that you never sell your work for to a company who doesn't um use green materials in making their products or that you want to make sure you use your only licensing to companies who make really high quality stuff um that you would be proud to buy yourself that's an example of a core value so in other words another way of thinking about this is how my not going to sell out right and that's gonna look different for everybody what are the things that are important to you in making in cell all your work because I'm sure we can all think of things that we want to make sure we never d'oh right the things that are going to make us feel uncomfortable give us panic attacks make us feel embarrassed to say you know to show our work online we want to avoid those things we want to make the experience of making and selling our work feel good and feel aligned with what's important to us and what what we enjoy and what's meaningful to us so those are our core values you probably have other core values around family and those might filter in a little bit um but right now we're really talking about core values around making and selling your work so important because you're more likely to execute your work in a way that is satisfying and feel good feels good if you are really conscious of an articulate what your core values are around making and selling work you'll be able to make decisions with more clarity and purpose, so in segment eight tomorrow we're going to be talking about what happens when you get to the point where you have a lot of opportunity coming your way you have to make hard decisions sometimes about what if what opportunities to say yes to and what opportunities to say no to and if you're really clear on your core values it's going to make it easier to make decisions because if an opportunity comes your way and it's not aligned, then you might consider it it's not a good opportunity you'll be more able to more clearly communicate with clients and customers so often um natalie right? Natalie might even say in her bio on her website that, like part of her mission is to give five percent of everything she makes to charity. She might even say, you know which charities she's donated to and why that's important to her she's gonna be ableto clearly communicate that value and that value is going to come through in what she does and actually that's part of her story, which we're going to talk about in segment for like what's your story what are you about beyond your art? What are you about value's about how you make or sell your work? Core values generally stay consistent over time they may change as you get older or as you read more books and learn more about the way the world works, but generally they're just things that I've always sort of been important to you and that feel important to you. The way I like to come up with core values is by asking yourself, making and selling my work will feel good as long as I doc doctor, this is a challenging exercise, but it's really important thing to go through so some examples of core values if I take commercial work, I only want to work for companies whose work I would buy myself. Now these are examples you may not have. This may not feel important to you at all. These are just examples, and you may have core values that are totally different. Some portion of the work I make is affordable. You want to be able, you want any person to be able to access your work? You know, that might mean the way that translates is that you offer worked at a variety of price points. Okay, I work in ways that do as little harm as possible to the environment that might be a core value to you. It really inform, you know, you were saying that you use recycled materials in your work and that's probably something that's important to you. All right, those are just examples, so we're gonna write our core value so you can start scribbling now and I'm gonna have gabby come on back into the hot seat. We're gonna dig into gabby's um, big goals shortly but before we do that let's write down some of her core values. So remember to think making and selling my work will feel good as long as I I am true to my illustration style. Okay, so I think this is a really important one she said am true to my illustration style I have some personal experience with this where, um this happens less to me now, but, um, I had some experiences when I was first starting out where I was asked to illustrate some stuff in a way that made me question whether the clan had ever looked at my portfolio. We talked about this once, didn't we, darling? I got, uh and I was like, why are they asking me? Because the examples of the things they wanted me to make, um we're not at all the kind of work that I made the subject from subject matter to style and so that's, why it's really important when you get an opportunity to ask as many questions as possible of the person who's offering you the opportunity before you say yes to it to make sure that that this feels like a relationship that could be really like you feel like you can stay authentic and they're still getting what they want because when you have to try toe if you say say yes opportunities where you having to do something that doesn't feel like it's something you would normally draw or in a style you would normally draw or paint it's going to feel really awkward and uncomfortable so I think this is a great one and it happened could happen what else? Um that I enjoy about the process while I'm making that art okay? Gabby wants to make sure she is enjoying the process so how would you know gabby if you wouldn't enjoy the process? Um I guess I wouldn't accept it to begin with, so I guess I'm asking that because sometimes you're going to say yes to opportunities because you think you're going to enjoy the process because it's something you've never done before and then you take on the opportunity and you're miserable and you learn. So when the beginning there's a lot of trial and error there's a lot of saying yesterday opportunities or um doing things that, um that you think might be enjoyable and then you end up not liking at all so super important, you know, to open yourself up to opportunities unless you've course know already that it's not something I would enjoy okay, and the more you know about yourself and your style and the way you work the easier it's going to be for you to make decisions about what kind of work to dio and that doesn't just go for licensing an illustration it's also for fine art in the fine art world there's a lot of opportunities people invite you to be in shows around particular themes, they'll have requirements about the kind of work that you need to submit the amount of time you have to complete it, so every opportunity has sort of contingencies attached to it and, you know, it's important to make sure that you're comfortable with all of them? Yes, anything else, and I guess my that one a third one would be like balance with life. So meaning I know this is hard to achieve in general, but just priorities like maybe, you know, putting your family time and then right that's the thing isn't going to take over your life right now, I'm just going to say won't take over my life. I don't know if that's the best way to articulate it and why is that important to you, gabi? Because even though I love her nuts and I love illustration in this world, I also know that's important teo tries balance as much as possible, my family and friends and um you know learning different other areas as well so that's right thank you alright awesome thanks thanks for sharing I'm curious chris both online what people are sharing and then also hear what did you guys come up with for oh for your core values I'm jennifer gaskin and I'm a graphic designer and I'd like to be taking on more fine artwork great selling in the shop and for one of my core values I put that I want to create work that doesn't clatter the world the lives of my clients or the internet beautiful okay she doesn't want to make work that's going to clutter the world the lives of her clients or the internet all right well see s name what you do my name's katherine forced and I do roman sama ethics and one of mine was to work with clients who respect me in my time and again that's one that you don't always know off the bat but the great thing is when you do work with clients who respect your time and respect you as a professional they're lovely to work with again and again and again so that's great we have some coming here straight to meg says my core values revolve around making the world a better place encouraging community promoting and valuing real beauty and helping couples and families see their everyday lives as a true adventure oh wonderful then the craft aholic like that name that's fun my whore value is to show the world that art is everywhere to show the world that you can be a single mom, an artist, a blogger and a writer and not be completely insane in the process of it all that's great yeah, you know so many of your core values are going to be around sort of showing the world who you are as a person um or promoting your work and not necessarily the ethics around even producing your work so I really like how people are thinking outside the box about this anybody else from the audience want to share there's yeah press down the mic hi, I'm rachel I'm a freelance illustrator and budding graphic designer, so I will say um one of my core values and this is more of a hope than the current value is, um working with clients who pay respectively respectably unconsciously for my work and well, allow me to not compromise financially yeah, I think that's a great a great one like this idea well, you'll you'll be next this idea that, um that you deserve as an artist to be paid for your work. We didn't talk about that this morning earlier when we were talking about, you know, the starving artist myth but for so long you know, we've been told that we should be grateful to get any work at all or that we should take work for exposure. And while that may be a criteria for saying yes to something that you will get exposure, I certainly also think it should be a criteria that you get paid and that you get paid what you feel like you deserve. So, um, the good news about that one is that you always should know up front whether you're a fine artist or an illustrator, how much you're going to be paid for something, you don't have to do the job and then find out, like you do with some of these others where, you know, you have to learn whether or not the client respects your time or whatever should always know up front whether you're going to get paid, you know how much you're gonna get paid, and that amount needs to feel good to you. It needs toe to feel fair to you, especially if that's one of your core values, yes, my name is dawn, I'm a graphic designer, and later, um, we talked a little bit about a core value being that our client would respect us and our style and needs and things like that. But I also think that I would need to respect my client as well, for example, if someone wants to pay me a lot of money for something and they might be kind of a jerk or have different you know, values that I have I might think twice about creating work for them, so I think that's important to think about too yeah, I agree I always say I want to work for companies whose products or services I would use because I respect what they d'oh or there were there has to be an aesthetic alignment like if it's a company whose aesthetics or don't feel in line with what I do is this a company I really want to work with that could go for a gallery too? Is this a gallery that shows work that feels like a good home for my work? Because there's there's a union there there's like a cohesion that's happening? Those are important questions to ask. I know it's very tempting in the beginning when you're first starting out to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. But the more you think about what you want and what's important to you, the more power you're going tohave in the relationship and the more you're going to be able to attract those things that are aligned with who you are and how you want to make work anybody else hi, I'm melanie ida chop cho and I am an illustrator and I make collages and mixed media work and one of my values is well I'm making work I'm empowering other people to be creative I draw outside a lot and I really cherish those conversations with people who share that they had always longed to draw they wish they could or there's no way so when I continue that supportive element that's great so for melanie engagement engaging people is really important my friend illustrator when did mcnaughton I'm not sure if you're familiar with her work but so much of her work is going around and illustrating people that she meets on the street asking them questions and she creates these beautiful portrait of people and and then you know writes about them and what they're doing that day I think this is so engagement to her and having this sort of relationship with the people that her art is really about her interactions with people and relationships with people and it sounds like for you that's a really similar value any others that are coming up yeah we have another one here from lauren blair and she says I want to be hired by people because they want my style not because they know I can make them a design on illustrator and comedy gumball machine says that their core values to enlighten through thoughtful golden rule type of children's stories that they're gonna be writing yes so this can also inform the kind of work that you end up making not just what? Work you take with clients or galleries, but also can really inform the kind of work that you choose to make and put in your portfolio on then and again, this is all all of these things, while you might not explicitly write them out on your website like it's, not like on your about paige, you're going, you're going to say, these are my core values, you know, you might infuse them somehow, but but if you're if you're making art and selling art in a way that feels good to you, and that is deeply meaningful to you, um, that's really going to come through in the story that you tell and in your voice to your audience? Because while your work may be beautiful or interesting on people may be attracted to your work, they're going to be more likely to engage with your work and by your work, and hire you on and ask you to be part of shows if they understand what you're about beyond your art work or what your artwork is about, okay, any questions about that from anybody? Well, we have some general questions that have been coming in, but people have been voting on them, so we urge you to vote on that that means that people want to know the answer, so carolina wants to know have you ever felt like the things that you've been working on have already been done by other artists or that when you started to make them you're in the middle of it and you decide what is the point of creating this piece of art? Yes, of course I feel like that's one of the greatest challenges of being an artist is sort of making your work feel really authentic and original and unique right especially now so so let's talk about what we talked about earlier the internet is this great place right? You anybody can share their work anybody can use the internet to promote their work, share their work have a website gone are the days when you need gallery representation not the gallery representation is an amazing it's it's a very powerful tool as is illustration representation and all of that but the playing field leveled like regular people like me with no art degree can can can make it as an artist. But the flip side of that is that there's so many people on the internet sharing their work right? The playing field leveled but it's also really saturated. And so how many of you experience this where you turn on the computer in the morning and you're flipping through instagram or going to your favorite blog's and you start to see a lot of stuff that makes you feel like what you're doing is is for lack of a better word, crap or something, right, like or you like, oh, or oh, I had that idea, but this person is already doing it or whatever. So it's a super common. We all experience it. I experience it even as somebody who, you know regularly makes and sells work even at the level of my career. I'm still constantly feeling intimidated or wondering if I'm, you know, upping the ante enough on my own work or if I, you know, if I need to do the next thing if I need to reinvent myself, because a lot of what I'm doing is being done by other people. So there's, always that conversation is always happening. And so so the answer is like, just continue to focus on doing the stuff that you love and really trying to find your unique place in the art world on dh that it's normal to feel frustrated or intimidated or overwhelmed by what you see out there or feel like you're one step behind. But the idea is not to let that paralyze you or stop you, yeah.

Class Description

"This is an incredibly helpful class for anyone who feels intimidated by all the "giants" in the land of art, and wonders if it's really worth keeping trying to make money from their talent. Lisa breaks everything down into manageable steps, while not dumbing things down. Her manner is very approachable, so that you can imagine yourself doing what she does. Her generous spirit means too that she is sharing really useful stuff - not just some fluff, and keeping all the good ideas for herself!"
 - Janet and Craig Mathewson (CreativeLive Students)

An enthusiastic audience that appreciates your art is waiting for you. Join Lisa Congdon, illustrator, artist, and author of Art, Inc. for Become a Working Artist and learn everything you need to know to make a living as a fine or commercial artist.

In this class, you will find out exactly what it takes to break into the art world and reach new, diverse audiences. Lisa will show you how to:

  • Identify the characteristics that make your style unique
  • Map out the vision and goals that will drive your artistic career 
  • Navigate the fine art market and break in to it
  • Land and negotiate art licensing deals
  • Develop effective techniques for promoting your work
Every artist faces rejection and setbacks on the road to finding an appreciative and paying audience. Become a Working Artist will teach you how to navigate the inevitable disappointments and push through to build a vibrant, rewarding career in art.

Making money as an artist doesn’t have to be far-fetched dream, Lisa Congdon will show you how to make it a reality.  



I was very happy and inspired to be able to attend to this class! It helped me so much to understand which are my goals as an artist and what I need to make to make them happen. Lisa is amazing and I cannot be happier to have been part of this, thank you so much!! I am now more than inspired to create beautiful things and make the tasks I need to make to become the professional artist I aim to be. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful generosity and Creative Live for hosting and creating such a wonderful event!


This course was fantastic! The format was great and Lisa was extremely helpful, knowledgable, and engaging. I was so inspired and loved that she gave very real information and great advice. I came away with a great new plan for my business and a renewed excitement for growth. I would highly recommend this class!

Simply Stated Architecture, PC

Professionally, I am an architect, but I also dabble in some watercolors as well as wood and metal work. When I started my own architectural office, I found good resources for business information were scarce. Most of what I found applied to retail or service businesses that really did not apply to a creative professional. One of the best resources I have found has been my local art guild - The Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I found that the painters, jewelers, potters, fiber artists, and other artists faced much more similar issues to what I was dealing with than the contractors, store owners, financial planners, insurance salesmen, and other business people that I was finding in business groups and classes. Lisa Congdon's class is the first CreativeLive course that I've taken. I had signed up for the CL email recently and Lisa's class just caught my eye. I'm glad that I took the time to sit through the sessions. A few of the segments - such as that on illustration and licensing or fine art - really did not have any practical application to my own situation. But there were items of value in pretty much all of the segments that I could take away to adapt in my own business. For someone just starting off in a creative profession, I'd highly recommend Lisa's course as a roadmap of items to keep in mind and plan for in their business. But by no means should you consider this to be a "beginner only" course. I started my business four years ago and I really wish that I had found something like this course in those first months or first year. But even after four years, I found great value in this course. The information on setting goals, actionable tasks, and the final segment on managing your success were extremely valuable and gave me many items to work into my own business in the coming weeks and months.