Monday, November 17, 2014

Setting Goals

I have a mentor. For the year of 2015, I have the privilege of working with someone who has a wealth of information, experience and business savvy. And she is willing to part with some of that information to help me progress as a professional artist. Puts a smile on my face. 

So the first hurdle I had to face was in setting goals. Not unlike most moderately ambitious people, my first attempt at a list had way too much on it and in much too vague a way. It had 28 items on it. In my second draft I split my ideas into "artist goals" and "professional goals" but pretty much had the same amount of goals combined on the two lists. So then, as suggested, I broke what I had into "short term" and "long term" goals. This got me thinking about time, ability and reality.

As I slipped things into the long term list, I wondered if I was just tabling things that would never be realized due to lack of time. I will turn 59 in 2015. I have always found the "nine" years to be brutal and as I face the inevitability of aging, the looming 60 seems a mountainous hurdle with a hell of a backslide. How much longer will I be allowed to do this work? Will my eyes go, or my hands get shaky, or perhaps an illness or disease will table my goals. So I decided to burn rubber on the short term goals. Seize the day, right?

My business goal list has 11 items on it. My artist goals are 5. I have completed 4 items on my business list already. They were easy, relatively. I now get to dig in to the harder goals. Without listing all of them I will discuss a few key goals. My first artist goal is to create 5-7 pieces in 2015 for entering into specific exhibitions. I have now a detailed list of all the calls I want to enter with their important information, the submission due date and the piece I want to have completed for entry. While a heavy list, I will push to get all 7 done if possible. Having this list in front of me gives me a daily reminder that goal #3 which is to develop better discipline, is absolutely necessary. 

One of my business goals is to smarten up my blog page so that I can use it like a website, offering it to anyone who wants to see what I do. If you read my posts, you will see subtle and even some not so subtle changes happening. I am adding pages to my blog. One for a resume and artist statement, and one for my artist portfolio. Until I start receiving income from my art, I have to make due with an old, slow computer and I can't commit to paying for a website's monthly charges yet. As suggested by my mentor, "You don't need a website, just use your blog." Using my blog not only means adding pages, but also designing it to be a professional extension of my art. Soon you will see a redesign. It also implies that I have to be much more diligent about posting. So the simple goal of having stronger and more professional internet presence entails a moderate amount of work in making changes.

I will be talking about the progress I am making in defining and developing some of my other goals as time permits. In my next "Goal Post" I will talk about how I am developing a few concepts for articles as well as taking those concepts one step further into planning demos and teaching workshops around them.

As our professional lives as artists are so closely interwoven with our personal lives, I have allowed a certain amount of my life into these posts. I have a west coast family. My mother grew up in California with her three sisters. They all stayed in the west with the exception of my mother who moved to her husband's home town in the east. My maternal cousins are all much older than I, as my mother was the last of the sisters to marry and the last to start a family. I have seen some of my cousins on occasion, many of them I have not seen since I was very young. One of these cousins kept in touch with me via snail mail and an occasional phone call. Jeff had been battling with cancer for seven years and has recently lost his fight. In sadness over the loss of him, and in respect for his kindness, gentleness, and his sensitive, generous spirit, I honor his passing here with all the love in my heart. You will be sorely missed, dear cousin.

Jeffrey Wilson Helmer
July 15, 1945 - November 5, 2014


  1. Sorry to learn of your cousin's passing. Always hard to say good bye to those we have known our whole lives, loved us and that we have loved. Be well.