Friday, March 27, 2015

221: Creative Bucket List

Swallow's Nest Rock, Pen and Ink, 14" x 12"
I was intrigued by a recent blog entry by Lori Woodward expressing frustration with the current art market. In the article she describes a radical shift in her career. She suggested that rather than pursue the usual path for artists–find galleries and hope they believe in your work and promote you–she will be pursuing a different path; a less aggressive strategy of pursuing a creative bucket list.

I like the idea. To cease striving to get into galleries, shows, and events is a refreshing idea. Is it possible that the minutiae of art marketing actually distracts artists? Would a more project oriented model serve artists better? In her article Woodward reflects on the oft-heard but depressing suggestion that artists spend 50% of their time with business promotion. Is it possible that such advice becomes a self-defeating burden for many artists?

In my approach to my career I’ve always been more project oriented. Plus I have an eclectic skill set that is hard to sell following traditional business models. Devising projects to accomplish seems a more productive path than the interminable and seemingly trivial detail of typical business solutions. Now that the idea of a project oriented career occurs to me it seems obvious that artists need to pursue a radically different business model than typically suggested.

As a way to shift from the typical business model to project oriented promotion I’m starting a Creative Project Bucket List. Here’s my list so far:

Get a large acrylic into the Salmagundi Club Acrylic show.

Visit museums in England with J. M. W. Turner paintings.

Visit Scotland with the express purpose of collecting sketches and photos to create an exhibit of large acrylic realist paintings. Have a one man show on return.

Be a guest artist at the Golden Colors artist residency.

Have a one man show at my Alma Mater, The University of Idaho, covering all facets of my artistic journey.

Get a return invitation to The Door County Plein Air Festival. But this time do plein air pen and ink drawings in addition to paintings, and possibly a woodcut or two.

Do a Thick Paint workshop in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Participate in the Florence Abstract Biennial.

Get a return invitation to The Maynard Dixon Studio for another week long artist residency.

Go to Antarctica for two weeks. In the tradition of 19th century exploration create a series of sketches, woodcuts, landscape paintings, and abstracts while blogging and posting video accounts of the experience. Upon return mount an exhibit in conjunction with The Leonardo (a museum dedicated to the exploration of art and science).

Visit Iceland and paint a series of realist acrylics of rocks, ice, and sea and give a woodcut workshop while there.

Teach art at least one semester at Southern Virginia University

Will I accomplish all these goals? Possibly not. But I like the list because it energizes me to contemplate the possibilities. Conversely when I think about contacting galleries and buying ads in magazines and all the other ideas suggested by art marketing gurus I feel depleted.

As artists we need to be as creative in our careers as we are with our art. If a business approach seems out of harmony with who we are we need to find a more authentic solution.

Brad Teare–March 2015


  1. Thanks Brad for the link! BTW, not all art marketers recommend buying ads. They're just too expensive. Only those who have a vested interest in artists buying ads recommend it.

  2. One advocate of advertising suggests that if you don't have the money to do a campaign, that is, a series of ads to carve out a real presence in the market, it's best not to advertise. I appreciate the honesty but have never had the resources to do an advertising campaign. So the advice is irrelevant to my project. But the question remains what to do to push one's career forward? At the moment it seems there isn't much one can do except wait for a market to emerge.


Thanks for your comments!


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