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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 5 of 22

Creating Actionable Tasks


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 5 of 22

Creating Actionable Tasks


Lesson Info

Creating Actionable Tasks

Actual tasks and you'll notice I put little like ray's outside of this one because this is where the magic happens this is where you start to feel a sense of accomplishment right um because here we are now we're actually here were like in that outside rung this is still a list you're still writing it down that this is the stuff you can do tomorrow this is the stuff that is broken down into small enough pieces you can actually do it you've got um you know sometimes when we've got big goals and dreams they feel super overwhelming they do even for me and I like one of my big goals right now is home to core and I'm thinking about going the path is like trying to do my own thing instead of lice and seeing my work for home to core and a friend and I are talking about how we could make that happen you can imagine that for somebody who wants to do home use there are working home decor um and actually maybe even you know, produce products that there's a lot of stuff you have to think about like...

how is this going to get printed? Where is it going to get printed and I going to do pillows am I going to do ceramics? Am I gonna you know what I'm going to dio um so lots of intermediate goals I need to develop to get me to that big goal and then actionable task otherwise I will never make progress on getting to that goal because it's just always going to feel overwhelming and big so really important to break things down all right? They're fairly small and grain size they're things you can do in an hour or a day and again they stem from your intermediate goals could take action on them in a day or less they're the kinds of things that are on your daily to do list so that the things you add to your to do listen in segment said our segment eight we're going to talk about work flow so that's like this idea of taking all this stuff and putting it into some kind of system that sort of forces you to do it um so that the things don't sit on your list that they actually get done, they give you a quick sense of accomplishment toward your goal. Okay, so actually examples reading okay, so let's say we're going with this idea of opening an etsy shop and let's say you don't have one yet, so one example of an actual task would be reading digest at c cellar guidelines, so familiarizing yourself with everything that's written down about the rules for etc like how etc works what are the rules? And by the way, um in segment six tomorrow we're going to talk about etc as a selling platform so more on that tomorrow, prepare your files for the printer based on their specifications so let's say you you're you've decided to make prince instead of printing them you're spying a printer and printing them yourself you're going to outsource your printing to a printing house and have a set of twenty five limited edition prints so you need to contact the printers is something I didn't put on here, but another actual task might be contact the printer to find out how big the file needs to be. You know what resolution doesn't need to be c m y k or rgb? What air this file specs for that that printer needs right descriptions for five new shop items photograph er scan five new shop items see how specific this is and I'm actually giving myself a number and I'm gonna give numbers toe gabby later like, for example, one of her girls might be you know, every day she's going teo, you know, make a new drawing of a person just a practice or one actual task for her might be every week she is going to complete one collection, one holiday collection and so that in five weeks she has five holiday collections I don't know if that's realistic but that's the kind of thing that we're talking about place new items in the shop. So you have them get the images up right? Your descriptions get the prices in there and make the shop live. That's usually a click of a button. That's. The point that feels really good. Any questions about actionable tasks? Okay, you have some questions coming in here now. Yeah, some people, as they look at these actionable task, they may feel a little overwhelmed. And now this question comes from el blare. Three and eleven people voted for this one. So thanks for using that feature, but l blair says I feel paralyzed and too tired to make work to make this new work and to launch a business because I work a full time job to make ends meet. And when I'm looking at these actual task, I think she's, getting a little bit overwhelmed any tips that you can give for people who are looking at these tasks and thinking, oh, wow, how am I gonna do this with my full time job? Yeah. It's really hard. Like, if you have a full time job usually and I was one of those people once you know, your art making time is outside of work, it is at night is on the weekends, anybody in this room in that position now full or part time work, right? It is very overwhelming but that's part of why we're making the actionable tasks that's part of why we're going through this activity so that maybe all let's let's just pretend her name's elf let's say that l has this full time job but she's managed to spend enough time breaking down some actionable tasks that she only does one of those a week but if her goal is really to get to the place where she's not doesn't have a job anymore you've got to start somewhere and for some people that's really small baby steps it's one or two things a week um and then taking those off till you get to the point where you can open up an online shop and also another recommendation I have if you're overwhelmed is just choose one thing that you're going to work on just one I know that we're all talking about brainstorming all the ways we could diversify our income and all the things we can do to make up a full time living but you cannot start in five places you have to start and maybe one or maybe two even in that umbrella let's say you're an illustrator um you might really want to focus building your portfolio in one specific area um or if you were getting you know if you want to pitcher worked to a gallery that you're getting ready to, you know, build a new body of work of original works that that really just sort of focusing your energy on one thing so I also recommend you know, one thing like maybe your thing is you're going to open it an online shop and that might take you three months because you only have a few hours a week to work on it but if you've got actionable tax that are pretty small, just break them down and do one or two of those actionable tasks a week until you're ready darling, I am dolly, no niece away I'm a printmaker and an illustrator and what for me has really helped with the actionable tasks as somebody who works forty, forty five, fifty hours a week and is trying to make it happen for myself is two things first of all, I developed a system called accountability buddy at work I mean, luckily I have a creative work environment, but every wednesday me and my kind of bill nobody would show each other a piece of work that we did or talk about, you know, things we've done that week, I also set up a a private facebook group with my sister's where we convince talk about things that we're doing talk about classes were taking on dh that way you're accountable to somebody, so you know wednesday's coming up it's time to make it happen, otherwise you're going to be the one that's not sharing and so that's really helped me all those were fantastic suggestions. I have some friends, a couple friends who are in a couple different, uh, business groups. They're all artists but it's like a for lack of a better word of business groups. So, like every monday or every tuesday they get together, they they check in about what they accomplished since the last meeting, they talk about areas where they're stuck on again. If you're working full time, you know, that might not be, you know, there might not be time in your schedule to get together with other creative people and talk about your goals and stay accountable to people in your community, but there's certainly, you know, the internet is a great place for that, too, or just finding one person that you could stay accountable. Teo and another thing I just want to say is that while I am going to emphasize till the cows come home, this idea of starting now and not waiting till the perfect time, if you are working full time and you are overwhelmed by your job or your family situation, it might not be the best time to launch a career is an artist, so maybe make your goals a lot different maybe your goal if if that's where you are is to just make a portion of your income I'm selling your work in some way I started off very small, and it took me many years to get to the point where I was making a full time living. This can take years, and it can also happen in a matter of months. I've heard other stories that are really amazing, so so you get to decide how much you take on you get to decide what your actionable tasks are, but the idea is like breaking things down to really manageable chunks, and then I love darlings idea, staying accountable to other people and figuring out who those people are. Yeah, we have some people who are timing in with their goals here on alice, says, intermediate goal isto have a successful exhibition in december, and the actionable tasks are to do a painting three times a week in order to make that happen perfect, annalise create says that the goal is to create etsy account and create work to sell are the immediate goals once they have that account that's great, and those are you, khun! See, those are all, like really tangible things on dh you. I bet many of you, by the end of this class, will have new goals or new actionable test, because you're going to learn from some of the experts coming in about the kinds of things that help in selling your work or licensing your work or getting a fine art show or you know, getting into a gallery whatever your goals are all right, so gabby I'm gonna ask you to come back up and we're gonna just talk for a few minutes about about actual tasks that you could dio so um I'm not this is this would go on these things would go here if if if if if I actually had this chart in front of me which I don't um all right, so uh let's first talk talk about you want to get you do you know how to draw people or is that something you feel like you need to practice? I need to practice. Okay? So one of gabby's actionable will task might be to draw more people but that's kind of vague isn't it draw more people so given your schedule you know more about that than I do. What do you what what do you think would be a reasonable amount of time you could spend practicing drawing people over the next couple of months um maybe give myself the task of like every friday drop a portrait if if it's not just the face maybe the whole body okay, I usually like to draw like, um you know, people in environment so that would be pretty cool um and if gabby didn't feel comfortable um drawing people so every friday draw a person but let's say that gabby felt uncomfortable drawing people like it wasn't something she had learned to do in school one actionable task for her might be take a portrait drawing class you know and that's one of the things that I really want to emphasize is that if there's an area you want to break into and you don't have the skill set take classes it's a great way to stay accountable for it's actually in our ink one of the things I recommend for managing your time and people are like why would you add something else to your schedule to manage your time like taking a class but taking a class has assignments attached to it right and and it's a really great way to say accountable for making work that you would normally have to force yourself to make because when you go to a classroom environment there's other students there there's a teacher there there's that accountability that darlene was talking about so every friday draw person she might also take a class if she feels like it's necessary all right so that's one actionable task for drawing more people on dh then of course along the way you might want to even put an end point on this for you know let's say for two months and at the end you know she was gonna have some imagery she's gonna have so ate at least eight different either patterns or you know and I know the way gabby probably works is you draw things by hand and then you digitally created stuff out of them, eh? So you might want to have fun turning those into things too. So maybe another actual goal might be like take two of those drawings and turn them into something that could be licensed right? So you want to just practice so um create um I'm gonna just do the shorthand stuff for licensing from that from that collection of people that you've been drawing and you know, if if gabby feels at the end of the two months of practicing drawing people that she still needs more time then she's going to know sheets to keep practicing or maybe she's going to discover that she absolutely hates drawing people and after two months I think it's safe to say if you absolutely hate it you don't have to force yourself to do it do it any more um all right, I'm gonna flip the chart but we also know that gabby wants teo build her portfolio and other areas besides so that's this is another intermediate goal so besides people she wants to build her portfolio and other areas so um what's an actual task around that you think that's reasonable for you something you could do in a in a in a day or two maybe over a period of time so probably based on like the collections maybe yeah eso maybe just start every day I could draw a little piece of the first collections because the collection is usually like twelve twelve designs it depended has right it doesn't a collection can be three things okay it's just more than two generally so were you interested in holiday or so with holiday yes okay so you want to make a holiday so that might even be your intimated that gold might be developed halloween three holiday themes right and one could be halloween and so again that's a that's pretty big so we want to make sure we break that down into actual task so you know so every day you're going to work on um create work actually that contributes to one of your collections to maybe have one design each week as well okay, so because way often we work as designers and illustrators is that we draw individual things then we put them together maybe digitally so you could be drawing every day but then another task would be to take those drawings and create those disparate drawings and create something out of them so you're gonna create patterns um and other because not everything has to be a repeat pattern um from your drawing from your drawings and then so I'll always like to make it measurable so you're accountable so maybe create patterns and other designs from your drawing so one a week and you can see here that it might even if she was busy doing other things that might even take her um like a few weeks to create one collection but if she's incrementally working on it and breaking it down and forcing herself tio um you know, to create the work that's going to go in the patterns and then put the patterns together and I imagine for you do you draw things by hand? I do and you scan them and then you color them digitally this so there that's a bunch of work involved in there, you know, which is going to take a lot of time um how are your repeat skills? Good, good, but I'm always wanting to get better, right? So that's another thing like in addition, tio maybe learning howto she might take a class or there's a lot of online classes on making repeats to develop her skill at making repeats in an even better way than change she knows now yeah, so like backs one actual task or that could be also considered an intermediate goal. Take a class on, um making repeat patterns, which is really important if you're interested in licensing your work and I'll talk more with bessie about that in segments seven um any other actual tasks you feel like you could go back and do tomorrow that are gonna move you toward any of your goals like um for licensing oh yeah we're gonna work on mock ups so working on mock ups that's pretty nebulous right? So what does that mean let's break that down do you have do you know a place where you can make us a website or a product that where you can make mock ups? Yeah no do so we need to research, right? So this is a great actionable task research that could take her a day places online that help me make mock ups and then once you've chosen one product or service around making mock ups of your work this is where they have pictures of things and you can place your work on them sometimes they cost money. I think there might be some out there that are free then what's the next step um also maybe researching companies that I feel that I could yeah is another great one. Research is a great way to spend your time research cos that she might want teo license with and I love uh for people to make a a spreadsheet maybe in google docks or whatever that keeps you where you keep a list of the companies you're interested in working with what's the earl if you found a contact for someone at that company that who's the art buyer or that you know what they have submission guidelines what are those so you have to keep going back to their website you've got it all logged there research cos I'm not gonna finish writing this but basically tow that you would be interested in licensing with and then another actual task might be to uh uh contact one a week for the next five weeks of course we have to assume that your portfolio is ready or that your collections are ready to show, but these are just examples of actual task that I'm sure there are a million others if we stood up here that we could that we could go through it once a week yeah, something like that the reason I'm honing in on this once a week, once a day thing is that again, you know that you have to do it if it's on your list you know it gets done and it makes it measurable so you know whether or not you've completed it all right? Thank you, gabby um all right, I got a few minutes left in this segment, so chris, I'm wondering if people how there have questions we do have questions with a variety of questions everybody's, chai ming in and lots of great voting on these questions, but I want to read this one from one of our users voted on nine times it says I recently read something that was kind of scary in the art world it is not what you do or how good you are it is who you know is this true or can you become somebody just by working hard as an introverted person it's kind of hard to meet people so the chances of meeting somebody are already difficult now is this something an actionable task try to make these connections? Is there hope for this person? Well, we're gonna talk about this a lot in the next segment when with lisa and carry my experts because in the fine art world it is really about connection you can get into a gallery or get a gallery show from gallery owner reading about you online but it's very helpful teo to make yourself part of the art community and you can do some of that online and I find that online communication is a lot easier for introverts than in person. But I do think it's important part of being in our working artist is being public facing goingto openings knowing how to talk to people knowing how to talk about your work. So having people skills is super necessary and if you're introverted I recommend you know, taking a class on communication or asserting yourself it's also comes into play when you have to negotiate fees and prices for things there's a lot of assertiveness required and being an artist so while I sympathize with people who are introverted and I am sort of introverted myself, sort of naturally in many ways, I I I also think it's important to learn people skills as an artist and really understand the importance of politeness and collect and not that introvert people aren't polite. That's not what I meant at all, but like learning how to interact with people polite communication, you know, asserting yourself, being able to talk about your work, showing up at events and introducing yourself to people, because truly, these are many of the ways that we can, especially in the fine art world, that we can make those connections. So it is. It isn't all about who, you know, hard work, discipline, your portfolio plays a huge part in it, but it is also about community and connection, so something something to work on. Um, let's. See, I want to know what in the last two segments came up for you or what you discovered when you were going through the school setting process. Anybody in the studio audience one to share? Okay, how about, um, her first and then you said she hasn't shared yet? Yeah, your name and what you do I am and that and that I'm an illustrator, and I create children's books and murals. And well I discovered that there are so many goals that I want to do that I hadn't really written down that I'm always thinking in my mind all one day I would love to do these or that but it's nice to have it written down and think what are the steps that I need to do to actually make it happen and thank you so much for yeah no that's exactly it and that feels good in a way, right? I mean, I think they're a couple people or at least that one person was saying this is bill super overwhelming and it can also feel overwhelming but I think actually when you write these things down and break them down and give yourself tests that are manageable it feels less overwhelming than just having them all swimming in your head yes, I'm jennifer gaskin and I'm a graphic designer looking to start my own art shop online and I was really surprised at how many actionable tasks that I could come up with just reiterating that that and that they were I like that they're actionable thes air things that I can do every day your actual task list is you're going to be your longest list and actually you want to make sure that that doesn't you take chunks of it off at a time and add them to your daily to do list but not all at once because then that's I'm going to feel overwhelming also like I feel like gabby if you and I had another forty five minutes we probably could have come up with twenty more actionable tests for you we could probably even break down these things into even smaller parts so the extent to which you can because you may have something that you think is an actual task and then you say okay, I'm gonna do this tomorrow so you put it on your to do list, right? And then you're like a weight before I do this I have to do this or this is actually for things so breaking things down is really important and also can feel overwhelming because you're like I thought it was going to accomplish this today and now I realize it's going to take me five days yeah, yeah I just wanted to say that I'm julie and I'm a mixed media artist this isn't new for me, but I needed to be motivated to keep it up it's more like maintenance yes and I'm just finding this class very motivating and sort of giving me energy to keep it going thank you and thanks for saying that um I'll take okay I'll taken any another way I think we have time for one more question, but let me just say that, um it's not like you make this um this chart and you check in with it every day of course you could but ultimately this is the stuff that gets transferred to whatever your workflow is and we're going to talk about work flowing in segment eight how you manage making decisions every day about what you're going to do and what's a priority and how you're gonna get a lot of things done in the course of a day when you have a lot of things on your plate because that's both hard when you're working part time and you're trying to launch your career as an artist and it's also hard on the other end once you've launched a career as an artist and I'll let you have a lot of things to dio um and if you're working smart even if you're you've left your day job and you're already working as an artist but you're not bringing in a lot of money if you're working smart you're filling your day with lots of things you're getting a lot done and so work flow in in time management is also really important this isa planning tool but it's not like every day you're going to be going through this process or checking in with your flow chart it might be interesting in a few months to check back but but ultimately the action will task for the things that you're going to act on and the idea is that they're coming from this that they make sense because they're leading you in the direction of this big dream that you have for what you're our career is going to be okay, yeah, I have a comment that I want to read that coming from the chat room this is kris with a k and they said that the goal setting really strips away the busy work and it makes you focus and choose something rather than letting it all exists in a pretend world right? This actually makes it real setting these goals so this really worked well for them, right? And, you know and then in reality you've also got email and, you know, other things that you have to deal with that aren't on your strategic list of things to dio and so figuring out a way to manage all of that is important, but the idea here is to be strategic about how you use your time and what you're working toward. Andi I know that, you know, spending the last several hours on this is not enough really this is about going back and continuing to work on this goal setting and planning and figuring out what your tasks are in researching because you may not know what your task they're supposed to be to get to a certain place and not knowing is okay a cz long as you take the steps to try to figure that out so

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.