To mark the beginning of a new year, I always like to tie up loose ends, finish projects, set up new goals and start new creative pursuits. My apartment and art studio are cleaned, de-cluttered and prepped for the year ahead. This puts me in the perfect mind-space to let in new ideas and sever ties with what is not benefiting my personal and professional environment.
I have already shared my 2024 new year's resolutions with you, now I want to share my top tips that I follow every year to clear out bad habits, stay motivated and boost morale at the start of a new year.
Top Tips to Create Positive Working Habits
My advice for starting fresh in the new year and nurturing a thriving work environment within the studio:
Tie up loose ends - Finish projects, close jobs and tackle the tasks you have been putting off. This will allow extra space in your mind and probably physically in your studio for new ideas and projects to start.
Put problem projects on ice - An important part of working as a professional artist is knowing when to move on from a project and start fresh. This includes progressing from projects that you are stuck with. If you are unable to finish something you have started as addressed in point 1, pause the project and hide it away. Putting down a project that seems to have hit a block is not a negative thing – it doesn’t mean you can’t return to it at a later date. Later on, you may have found a way to address it or you may have evolved onto bigger and better things.
Clean your home and studio - Tidying up both your living space and your professional working area is essential to allow new ideas in and think with clarity. It makes each environment more enjoyable to spend time in and having a studio that works for you is key to being a productive artist. Remove the trip hazards, take down the notices for events that passed five months ago, throw out the odds and ends you were saving to use on an unknown project in the undetermined future.
Set a schedule - As with writers, turning up to work is a big part of the job. Even if you are suffering from a creative block, don't punish yourself, just turn up and put pen to paper, brush to canvas. Remember the majority of the time an artist is experimenting. The start of a new year can be a great time to clear your schedule from the clutter: avoid social engagements that are draining, streamline life-admin and prioritise your goals. Scheduling breaks is also an important aspect of this if you are a workaholic – create planned tea breaks or go for a walk to reflect on your work.
Evaluate your equipment - This point is similar to point 3 but more specific about an artist's equipment. I like to check my paint brushes, paints and other studio essentials. Have you been ignoring your radio or speaker that hasn’t been working properly for the last three months? Are your favourite brushes on their last legs? Is the consistency of your paint still as it should be? If not, I suggest getting a replacement or even an upgrade.
Work on your mental wellbeing - Stress and anxiety are often creativity killers unless you are one of those rock star artists that make your best work whilst spiralling out of control (although this may not be sustainable). In the new year I like to experiment with new ideas or re approach methods to improve my mental wellbeing. This may be trying meditation for 10 minutes before I start my day in the studio, going for a run or doing a short session of yoga to initiate my days in a positive way.
A change of scenery - Often artists need more than a studio spruce up. They may need a new working environment all together. This may mean choosing a new studio or planning a fixed term professional change of scenery in the form of a residency. I will be addressing the benefits of going on artist residencies in a separate blog soon.
Celebrate your successes - I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to get stuck in the past and talk endlessly about that solo show you had five years ago, however, at the beginning of a new year, to accompany the list of new resolutions, I create a list of the 10 things I am proud of achieving. I usually do it to cover the year just gone but you can also do it to cover your professional life over the last decade. This could be big or small: the relaunch of a website, being selected for a group show, getting a new studio, being accepted into art school or reworking your artist statement, bio and sales list.
Happy New Year everyone and good luck. I would love to hear your feedback from my list and your own top tips in the comments below.
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