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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 4 of 22

Setting Intermediate Goals


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 4 of 22

Setting Intermediate Goals


Lesson Info

Setting Intermediate Goals

I'm going to move on now to intermediate goals and again going back to this graphic, we're still in the middle rung here in the goal setting in planning rung so again, super important to articulate where you want to go, but eventually we got to get to action. This is just the step before that, we never want to stop with the goal setting, all right, intermediate goals a stem directly from the gigantic goals on your vision map and actually that chart that I showed you earlier that flip chart, I'm sorry, the flow chart, um, is the place to sort of break down one goal from your vision map that's why there's like three in your packet? They're medium in size small enough to accomplish over a few weeks or in a couple of months, okay, so you've got, um, these big goals, which could take you a year, two years, three years, four years, depending these guys you want to make sure you could envision, given your schedule, some of you may still have jobs and not be working as an artist full time. The...

y're small enough to accomplish over a few weeks or a couple of months you might even be able, but they're not so small that you could accomplish them in a day these air like medium sized, they're concrete and actionable you can envision what it would look like to meet them or if you can't you could envision finding out what your next steps are part of the learning curve in in becoming a working artist is that oftentimes our goals exceed our knowledge right? So I may have a goal gabby's gonna get up here in a second and talk about her goal toe license her work to really like solidly plant herself in the licensing industry that's what that's one of the things she really wants to do but she may not know all of the tricks of the trade for breaking into licensing because she's new to it and there isn't a lot of information out there that's part of why we're here because we're going to talk about that right? So there's always there's like a knowledge gap between your goal and and the actual stuff you need to do to get there like how many people have fine art dreams they want tohave gallery representation but you might you might have that goal but you might say I have no idea how what steps I can take or what actions aiken take toe actually increase the chances that that will happen so part of what you might need to dio is you know a bit more in the second rung their research and sometimes research isn't reading sometimes research is finding a mentor and asking a lot of questions sometimes it's taking classes sometimes it's going onto an online forum around that topic so research can take lots of different forms and that research you dio will help uh fill in that knowledge gap between where you are and what your goal is so here's some examples of intermediate goals set up an etsy shop you can envision it but are there a lot of things you need to do need to do to do that? Yeah that's the one I'm gonna use us my example and then we also use gabby's example as a real example developed products to sell make contact with five publishers about submitting my work hoops so those are three examples of intermediate goals medium in size could you develop products to sell in a week? Maybe, but for the most part if you want to sell notebooks and cars and prince in your shop there's a lot of other stuff you need to do to make those things happen or if you are making original pieces of art and you don't have a collection of them yet to sell in your shop again requires time and effort to get those going. All right, so on your chart um we're talking about this sort of second space on the flow chart, so gabby, why don't you come on up and we're going to start talking through your sitch so as you may recall, these were gabby's um giant goals and we're going to focus on licensing and what's interesting about this area for gabby is that she's already been working on it for a while and we're gonna talk about that and she's experiencing a little bit of frustration and and the great thing is that she's not abandoning the school just because she tried a few things and they didn't go how she hoped they would go, um and that's really important this idea of persevering and continuing to stay open because she knows she wants to do this thing she's not exactly sure how to make it happen. She knew what she knows she wants to do and she's not giving up on the end goal just because she hasn't figured out what steps are going to work for her. So before we decide on your actual intermediate goals, let's, um let's, just talk about what you've done already. So I actually met gabby at sir tex, which is a licensing fair in new york that happens every may I was there because my agent, lola rogers, has a booth where she shows the work of her artists. So my work has been at sir tex in my agents booth it's, a trade show, so there's booths and javits, which is this joy enormous venue in new york, and it actually happens at the same time as the stationery show and the international international contemporary furniture fair cff so it's actually super fun to go because there's all these amazing art and design and illustration and stationery stuff happening at the same time I was there I was walking around gabby had a booth and we said clo so talk about what your experience was like there first talk about the positive things what happened e I learned about sir ticks through listening to other podcasts and stuff like that through other artist so that's how I became aware of certain checks and I just felt this compelling, you know, feeling to go and to set up a booth so I prepared a switch is possible and had we not knowing a lot right? Knowing a lot. Yes, just yeah. Did you talk to anybody who had exhibit it there before? I know it was just mainly through interviews in part cat's out of the internet that I really learned and that's just got all my information through there really is not cheap and it's not cheap s o several a lot of people. So this is a financial investment for you? Yes, you have to pay for a book. A lot of people share a booth with other artists I pay a fee to go with my agent because she's sharing you know, the work of a bunch of people. She also has a huge booth but you get this booth I'm walking and she said holy so you know hello want introduce myself so that's when we first met and you had mocked your stuff your some of your so gabby makes some repeat patterns saturn and um she had you'd mock him up on some stuff, right? Yes. So eh officer ticks I did a lot of one ofthe patterns and so I printed them out in large banners and kind of surrounded my booth that way right and then kind of had binders with illustrations so you met a lot of people so I made a lot of people from different companies and a lot of artists, which is awesome. So yeah, it was it was an overall a really great experience and she got a little right up in design sponge yes, just great. Thanks, mom respond? Yes, definitely. So but then what happened there? Hasn't you know, I haven't really nail down any licensing deals yet and recommissioned to you I'm still really hopeful, but I didn't make a lot of good context with companies and I just feel like it's my part that I still have to kind of kind of hone in what exactly to deliver or maybe all right so you learned something yes and I was asking gabby at the break is this something you would do again and she said yes but I would do it differently and so I'm gonna wait a couple years so what are some of the things you learned that if you I knew that you would have sort of taken more time to develop teo before certain yes so I did a lot of the one ofthe patterns, so maybe what I would do differently I would be doing more of collections of a collection of low pattern um collection by the way we're going to talk a lot about collect so if you're interested in licensing interview out there in the internet or any of you in the room, we're going to talk about that in segment seven tomorrow with betsy, who is our licensing expert, this idea of making collections and how important that is in the world of licensing so and that what that means essentially we're go into more detail in segment seven but essentially what that means is that instead of making just one repeat pattern, you make babies to repeat patterns and then a a couple of what they're called placement pieces, which are just sort of like an element from that pattern which could be put on a greeting card or in the middle of a plate or things like that so that you have a collection of things that had the similar colors you know, if it's a floral design may be similar florals things that go together is that definite make sense? Okay, so more collections what else? And then probably designed for specific products, so, um maybe get my illustration pattern and actually mock it up on the exit you know, the actual product that I'm looking to work with. So whether that be ceramics or fabric or told or kids children's toys okay, so you're bringing up a few important points here a lot of times it's great when if you are in a booth or even on your website if you never show it sir tex that's fine. A lot of licensing artists just sell work through the internet that you mock things up now their schools of thought or whether it's good to mock things up or not um but I think for trade shows it's great. And so what you do is you sort of spend a little bit of money mocking up products with your designs. And if you already have products with cos, you can certainly show those at your booth as well. But you know things like wallpaper, which you sort of did might be dishware, fabric t shirts anything that you could in bad envision your particular work on. You could mock mock up, but maybe just like digital lees what I mean okay, so kind of existing products and kind of put your space mock up software two and so if you have an ipad that you're showing at your booth and people can scroll through and look at your work mocked up on things like so that sometimes you can have physical mock up that you can make, but more often than not that's expensive so you can also do the digital mock up and show people what it could look like so that's, something you would have would have done is have more more mock ups. Okay, what else on dh and just developed keep developing my illustrations. So so say more about that. What do you what parts of your illustration repertoire do you feel like need to be developed a bit more? You know, I started aah! Gah being co dot com is my sight and ram, I started this kind of two years ago, so, um, maybe I just need a little bit more time to develop my illustration, maybe just a little like filled your portfolio more fully is probably what I'm trying to make you write. One of things we're going to talk a lot about is this idea of the more work you make, the more work you get and that that is true, whether you're a fine artist or a commercial artist, the mohr, even even if you're you have a full time job doing something else the more work don't wait for the work to come to you I'm gonna there's a there's a slide somewhere over the next six segments that says don't wait um if you're interested in doing licensing, make repeat patterns and make some collections even though no one's hired you to do it or you know or you haven't ever licensed anything before begin making the work because that's actually if you're interested in licensing that's actually how a lot of it works is that people buy things that you've already made license things and pay fees for things that you've already developed sometimes your commission to make something from scratch but um so filling your portfolio with stuff when art directors and gallery owners come to your web site and they see a rich portfolio that's very cohesive whether you've had whether you have a client list it all or you've ever been in a gallery show if you're if you have a cohesive and, you know, manageable e size body of work that's organized in a way that makes sense that sends the message that you're hardworking, that you've got this body of work and you've got your stuff together and they're going to be more inclined I think teo teo hire you then rather have if you have sort of random things that you worked on so building our portfolio's really important um all right so beyond sir tex what else are you doing to sort of propel yourself into the world of licensing? Um actually, um there's been some magazines that I've kind of looked through and I always kind of look at the contact information, and so if I feel that I I feel like a relation, you know, that my my style would work with that magazine, I've kind of send out of couple emails introducing myself and, you know, inviting them to my website and for editorial, job footed, tor ok, but stay focused on licensing first because I know that's another big bowl of yours, but in terms of licensing because you're because licensing isn't just about going to search and or building your portfolio. So what else? I guess you could say the same thing? Have you contacted any companies that you were interested in working with you? So the company said to talk tio, I did contact them filled up with kind of some of my work, so I just I think that I feel at this point maybe building more collections and re kon tiki kind, ok, yeah, so what I hear you saying is that you are at the point now where you feel like you really want to focus your efforts on building your portfolio and so that you're a better position to contact potential companies to work with us. And because reaching out don't wait around again reaching out, sharing your portfolio with cos you're interested in working with or galleries that you're interested in showing with is a great step and sir tex into in order to be ready for those two things you need to build your portfolio so so let's come up with some intermediate goals for you in that area so I guess build portfolio but let's break it down a little bit. What areas do you feel like your portfolio needs in what areas? You feel like your portfolio he needs to be more robust you mentioned something about having more imagery that had people in it yeah, yeah. So um mostly been drying and illustrating kind of love uh last gapes and buildings and kind of objects but I do lack and the drying people and humans so so maybe building my portfolio and that, um in that area and daddy has a really unique and modern style and I think it's great that you're sticking to that that but it's also important to know that in the world of licensing there are certain categories that sell very well uh, do you guys know what some of them are florals holiday and again don't overwhelm yourself with imagery of stuff that you think is really awful looking imagine your own stuff translated in that way and really cool and hip way um we'll talk about more of these tomorrow, but there are specific areas that if you build your portfolio with that most companies are looking for like general interest kinds of areas for those of you who are not interested in representational work is more abstract um you know, like having certain like geometrics right now are really popular and if your work is geometric or abstract it can also translate to licensing so you wanted more people and then maybe building other I'm gonna give you this one building um other area's too right? Besides, people may be thinking about florals or holiday or things holiday things like that what else? Um um like I said, uh probably mocking up the actual area working on mock ups maybe thinking specifically what I would want to see my patterns on what products okay, I could go on with someone in immediate goals around licensing, some of which has to do with how she sort of promotes her work one sec um but we're going to stop with these because while these air great, we have to at some point get to some actionable task so and we haven't really talked about marketing yet, so I don't want to infuse that too much yes, you had a question I'm puree sloan I'm an artist in a maker painter, but I had a question on quick when you're talking about building your collections and going towards certain categories how do you do that without feeling like your mass producing things that are just going to fail and kind of feel like you're selling out? Yeah that's a really good question so first of all, if that's a concern of yours it's possible licensing is not for you just to be honest okay, licensing is not for everyone because the world of licensing does often revolve around certain themes um if you aspire to make say even fifty percent of your income from licensing um it's probably important for youto unless you are already somebody has a name and could probably license there left some for a million dollars you probably want teo begin making work in those themes, but if that going back to your core values if that doesn't feel right to you because, um you're sort of making because it feels too much like your making stuff just to sell this stuff that you wouldn't normally make then maybe licensing isn't for you that said, I don't like making things in collections either on the way I got involved in licensing was a sort of different path and that was to actually just work on building my portfolio, making the work that I like to make I started getting illustration jobs and I fell into a licensing by working with companies that I thought would really like the stuff that I already made and so I contacted, for example, heidi and west I have a line of wallpaper with them that's very modern and very much in the style of what I do but I thought they would go for that kind of thing they had made wallpaper that was kind of crazy from some other artists who were not so traditional licensing artists and I thought it would be a good fit so I contacted them and they were like, we love your work we would like to work with you so I ended up doing a line of wallpaper with him and I had ah lot of conversations with them in the beginning about how much freedom I was gonna have in creating this collection of wallpaper um and so we brainstorm different things like one is botanical on one is triangles and one was this sort of crazy bohemian all over pattern that similar to something I would do it all in my sketch book. Another example is I have two lines of fabric now once coming out soon with cloud nine fabrics small fabric company I really again they sort of I have a reputation for producing fabric that's very artist driven and doesn't necessarily fall under traditional themes that you see in fabric really cool and modern stuff I contacted them because I thought they would be a good fit we ended up working together so there are ways to license your work and actually those were commissioned, so I got to create work, especially for them rarely because I don't have I don't create collections of of florals or collections of holiday stuff rarely do I get contacted by a company for stationary or whatever I get contacted, and then I commissioned me to make something for them, which is also licensing, but it's not stuff that's already my portfolio it's stuff that I'm creating for them, which is a little different still licensing um, so there are ways to license your work um, that feels sort of more authentic to you and your style because let's face it in the in this day and age, anything from the coolest, most, you know, most painterly abstract, you know? Not at all cute see imagery can go on just about anything and that's the stuff that's more on the cutting edge, so I wouldn't say don't take up licensing, but maybe approaching in a different way that feels better to you and also know that if until you sort of can establish yourself as a licensing artists that you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket and that's, why it's important to diversify your income it's really hard to make a full time income just being just licensing your work, okay? Any questions from out there in the world? I know that we're going to get into licensing a bit deeper and a future segment, but we did have two quick questions that you may be able to answer now this one comes from linda kenney, and linda wants to know how many designs and collections should you have before approaching a licensing company. Is there any rule of thumb that's a great question and when I think that that's he can probably answer tomorrow. Um but I would my guess is that you wanna have it at least five and that those five should cover a range of subject matter on dh not all be florals, for example. Um, so we're not all be jimmy geometrics, you know that they should show the diversity and your portfolio on what you're able to d'oh. Okay, now is it necessary to have designs in digital form to submit for licensing? Yes. Okay, so you got to get savvy with her digital skills, if you don't know photoshopped illustrator it's great to know. And even for somebody like me who starts everything by hand knowing how to trace an illustrator, a black at least a black and white drawing and color it digitally is and submitted a za vector. The reason that illustrators great is because illustrator is basically vector, which means it's scalable um, you might draw something really little, but at the minute it's victor, you can blow it up to any size where pixels are not that not that you know you have to scan things that really high resolution. A lot of licensed work is not in vector its hand drawn think about somebody like katie daisy who's actually represented by betsy who's going to be here tomorrow. All of her work is very sort of floral and hand lettering. It's all water color. She probably scans it really high resolution and cleans it up in photo shop so you have to at least have photoshopped skills even if your work is all is all hand drawn for licensing too if you want your work on notecards or journals or or whatever so that's an important skill to have um but you don't have to develop the work digitally. It just has to end up in digital form or be ready for somebody else to scan. One night, for example, when I first one of my first licensing deals was with magog, who is this big art licensing company and they sell toe like art dot com and um and I used to paint these birch forest paintings, and a lot of the original deals I got were these like paintings of kind of otherworldly looking birch forests and I didn't know how to scan something. I mean, this is how green I was like this was way back and maybe two thousand seven on two thousand eight, and I didn't know how to scan something in high resolution and a lot of time scan beds are only nine by twelve inches, right? You have to scan in two parts, and then you have to know in a photo shop to put them together. You're all nodding, right? Like that takes time to learn, and believe me, you need to learn it, so I hadn't learned that yet. I am taught myself that yet, so I sent them the original artwork, and they scanned it for me, so there are exceptions, you know, if you're a pure fine artist, which I sort of was more of at that time, and somebody really wants your work. As long as you have the original, they'll usually, or you can send it somewhere to have its professionally skander photograph. So but really, having digital skills is super important. Yeah, yeah, if, you know, I have my artwork photographed, chess tips and j pegs. Yes. Can those be used? If I were to want to our, you know, try to get into licensing, I mean, can you just send a tiff or or it has to be in a different format now has to be in photo actually if it's if it's not a vector file which until a straighter file it should be a tiff sometimes the last jpeg zahra photoshopped file if it's in layers but this idea of like developing things in layers in photo shop so that you can remove layers or hide layers so that things can have or that when you send something in layers that our director can move things around but not necessary if you create a piece of art and it's all like collage or mixed media and it's photographed and you're interested in having it licensed for you you couldn't do something in vector because your work is all paper and things that you find in the environment and you're using to make your mixed media piece so the high rez and by high rez I mean usually it's like six hundred d p I or higher tiff file is what they're gonna want that's not what you send them when you're pitching your work to them what you send them is a link to your portfolio or a few low res images you never want to send high res images until they asked for them and they're going to pay you for them I hope that answers your question all right um so gabby three intermediate goals for gabby is she's going to get good at and practicing drawing more people were going to break that down a little bit and give her some specific assignments. She's going to build other areas of her portfolio. Also, we'll talk about that when we get to it, and you're going to work on some mock ups. So still some big goals that need to be broken down even further, because gabby might. I think you might know what to do. Tow work on this one tomorrow, but it might be helpful to break it down into really manageable, actionable tasks.

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.