3 Ways to Tell You've had a Good Art Year


To those who may not know, I received my BFA in visual arts in April of this year, and since then, I’ve really just been flying by the seat of my pants. Since this is just my first year out of the nest of art school, I’ve been trying to focus on developing my practice, but doing that while also figuring out how to balance the demand of finding new opportunities for work, filling out applications and plans, and other random-yet-time consuming art-related tasks, as well as a full time job besides that, has proven to be a bit of a challenge. However, I think I have 3 ways to tell how I’ve been doing with all of this so far, and I thought I’d write it out so other artists can check in, compare, and see what they think.

You’ve made new connections within your art community

As my art schooling was wrapping up, the idea of diving into a gallery reception, studio visit, or other sort of event by myself, knowing exactly 0 people that would be there, except maybe as a scary out-of-my-league artist, was very daunting. The chances were good that I would have to introduce myself to a lot of people at any given event that I decided was worth the social anxiety. However, when the time came for me to actually suck it up and participate in these events (for those who don’t know, I am a VERY introverty introvert), the stress of feeling “out of my league” has been very much worth the opportunity to introduce myself to gallery directors, admin workers, and other artists in the community that I’m very happy to have met. I hope I can only get better from here! Personally, I think meeting people over the internet like this counts, too. What do you guys think?

You created habits that will allow you to keep finding new opportunities

Since this is my first year of figuring everything out, I wanted to start by setting myself up with good habits when it came to looking for professional opportunities. For example, as soon as the pandemic hit in March and I was temporarily laid off from my job, I made a point of checking artist groups online for open calls or other submission opportunities, asking for feedback on my work, and brainstorming ideas every single day. Even though I’ve gone back to work since then and I don’t have nearly as much time to devote to making art as I did, or would like to, I find that I am still in the habit of looking for new opportunities on a regular basis (I even get the odd gig!), and I’m not sure if that would be the case had I not been so diligent at the beginning of the year. I guess my point here is: the more you make this a part of your daily life, the more you will likely accomplish.

You made work outside your comfort zone

You guys uh, might have noticed, but I made a lot of paintings this year, and that’s something I thought I would never say. Prior to COVID times, my primary media was printmaking, and I miss it really, really bad. However, with pandemic restrictions came loss of access to a studio, and I was forced to pick up the old paint I hadn’t touched in years and started experimenting outside my porch in my house. Fast forward to now, and I’ve pushed my work in directions that I never saw it going, but am really quite happy with.

Personally, I get so much satisfaction out of seeing that in others’ work. I feel so proud when I get to know an artist’s work, and see them try something new, or experiment with something even when they aren’t sure if it will work out. To me, this is a clear sign that their work is growing.

Although I wasn’t thrilled about it at the time (in fact let’s be real, I was devastated), I’m happy that I was forced to pick up painting, and I want to keep going further outside of my comfort zone from here. Eventually, I would love to try mixing print and paint together in some fashion. Ultimately, I want to keep learning, because I think it will make me a better artist. I want to keep looking for/finding my unique voice as an artist, so I’m trying not to make any sort of rules for how I keep going.