As the year wraps up, this is the perfect time to start planning for next year. The last couple of weeks always fly by so fast (at least for me!), so early to mid December is a great time to begin your planning.
I’m not a fan of official “New Year's Resolutions”, but I do think there is something to be said about starting off the year with a fresh start, and a fresh mind. That’s why I think it’s great to get a head start with the planning of your year in December. It alleviates the, “Uhhh, what now?” that you might feel Jan 1. If you can have a couple things lined up for yourself that you can tackle for the first quarter of the year, you’ll be off to the races as soon as the new year commences!
Here are 5 things to help you get organized with your art, and your career for the new year:
Set Your Major Goals For Next Year
What are the big things you want to focus on for next year? Are you trying to get a solid portfolio together, land your first big gig, or increase your income? Setting these big goals and WRITING THEM DOWN somewhere EASILY VISIBLE really helps with actually achieving the goals!
This should be your first major step, as you can then break down each goal into smaller and smaller goals, so the big goal can feel more feasible. I’ll help you break down one of these major goals in a bit, so keep reading!
Decide On Any Events You’d Like to Attend
Networking and making art friends is definitely an underrated topic when it comes to becoming a successful artist. I’ve personally gotten a lot of gigs just from making friends and knowing people! Look into what types of local events are near you as well as possibly saving up for ONE large event that you might have to travel to.
For local events, consider looking into figure drawing sessions, anime conventions, or even your local comic book store. All of these events are filled with other like-minded people. Some of my best friends and colleagues have been made from attending events like this. These events are great for helping you push your social skills, and in the case of figure drawing, your art!
Larger events are useful for actually finding work. Try to look into conventions that will have art directors in attendance, so that you can possibly get a portfolio review. Even if you don’t land any gigs immediately, getting to know these artists and making a good impression can be extremely helpful down the line!
Join Some Art Communities
Whether it’s a physical local community or an online community, I’ve found it’s very beneficial to find at least 1 place you can call home base for all of your art feedback, career questions, and a place to feel comfortable with other like-minded people. Events are great, but they only come around once in a while. Communities are something that can be attended frequently, or even every day in terms of an online one.
I host a Discord server called Art broZ. We are a large community of like-minded artists sharing work, discussing goals, and talking art! Each month we host events and challenges as well, which I then critique live on stream. I’ve seen a lot of artists grow in the server by participating in these challenges and would love to see you participate as well!
Decide On One Major Project You’d Like To Complete
This point is similar to the point about setting goals, but I like to think of this more as a major creative goal, than a broad yearly / career oriented goal. I have personally found projects to be a great way to express my creativity, and drive the concept of who I really am as an artist.
Is there a comic book you’ve been wanting to start creating, or a video game you’ve designed in your head for years? Maybe it’s an idea for a t-shirt company you’ve been wanting to start and have always hesitated diving into. Pick one of these things now, and start doing some planning and research this month as to how you can begin developing this idea. My general advice for starting any personal project would be – START SMALL. You can always expand upon your idea or create an improved project in the future. If this is one of your first personal projects, it’s better to think of something you know you can finish, than to start, feel overwhelmed, and push it to the side.
Create An Outline For the First Quarter
Having a written outline for what you are trying to accomplish can really help you visualize the steps in the process. For any goal, especially with a very large thing you are trying to tackle, I recommend not planning out more than 3 months ahead. What I’ve found from working on projects like my video game for Red Essence Games, is that lots of things can change and develop within that time period, so It’s good to complete concise goals in smaller chunks. You can obviously have a general idea of what you’d like to accomplish within a year’s time, but I’d write out a bullet point outline for a 3 month sprint to keep yourself on track without feeling overwhelmed.
So let’s give an actual example! I had previously mentioned the idea of getting a solid portfolio together. A 3 month outline could look like this:
Get 5 cohesive pieces together and uploaded to your website or portfolio site within 3 months (12 Weeks):
-Week 1: Develop an idea for the 5 pieces, do research and gather references, and develop 5 quick thumbnail sketches to make sure everything feels like it works together
-Week 2-9: Work on, and get the 5 pieces to a 90% point (you can obviously break this one down into smaller, concise goals)
-Week 10: Find an art community or mentor you trust and get feedback on the 5 pieces
-Week 11: Polish, and make any adjustments you see fit from the critique notes
-Week 12: Upload your work to your portfolio, and announce your project online!
In my course, “Launch Your Art Career”, I’ll show you how to do this with an exact step-by-step process! I’ve also added my “Ultimate Artist’s Toolkit Bundle” as a bonus to the course, where I’ve included resources like a Project Design Document to help you begin developing your next big idea!
I’d love to have a conversation about what your goals are in my Art broZ Discord. Looking forward to chatting with you there!
Keep it up!