By Dominique Hunter
THE end of the year is quickly approaching, and personally, I can hardly wait. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably equally exhausted just thinking about having to endure the next few days until the New Year. A lot has happened in 2015, and the cost of undergoing those transformations has finally caught up with me. Actually no, I’m lying. I was done with 2015 about four or five months ago. Regardless, after much consideration about how to bring the curtains down on 2015, I’ve finally decided on something appropriate.
During this time of the year, everyone whips out their fancy Montblanc fountain pens to write their resolutions in gently used journals that haven’t been touched since Easter. It’s okay, I’m not judging you. But this is an age-old tradition that has been rendered tired and pointless because of our inability to follow through. We’ve all seen those “New Year, New Me” memes floating around social media, and they’re funny because they’re true. We know that halfway through January we’ll fall back into our old habits, yet every year without fail, we continue to make those lists.
There’s something about the newness of the upcoming year that inspires us to reimagine better and more productive versions of ourselves. And while I believe there is power in the written and spoken word, that power has to be activated by consistent work. You’ll get nowhere fast if you just sit back, head to the sky, waiting for “the moment” when your stars align and everything magically falls into place. Having said that, I’ve compiled a few main tips that I believe can help creative people to be more impactful in 2016.
Probably the most important thing we can do to ensure a more dynamic New Year is to sharpen our time management skills. It is getting increasingly harder for us to focus on completing a single task at a time. We have been conditioned to believe that if we’re not multi-tasking then we’re not doing it right. And while many of us might have found ways to rationalize this logic, it almost never works out in our favour. Instead, be realistic about how much work you can actually accomplish in a given day.
In addition to your daily workload, be sure to factor in a full night’s sleep. Put down your cellphone, step away from the laptop and take the time to eat three full meals a day away from your work station, so that you aren’t tempted to work and eat at the same time. You may also have to make room in your day for running the odd errand here and there, and for what I like to call “sanity breaks” (this would be the time to stretch, read a book, play a game or watch a quick series). This is crucial for your physical and mental health. It helps to set short-term weekly and monthly goals so that you have something to work towards. These short-term goals can also be used to measure how much progress you would have made over that specific period of time.
Regardless of your creative discipline, commit to doing something that is related to your artistic practice every single day. And by something I really mean literally anything. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or carefully planned out. Even something as simple as a doodle, a sketch, even a written paragraph of intent can go a long way when you’re training yourself to be consistent in your practice. The objective is to be constantly thinking about ways of developing your work and extending your public reach. To put it into a more modern context, think of it as your Farmville crops on Facebook. If you don’t take the time to tend to them everyday, then they will eventually die and your goals will be pushed back even further. We wouldn’t want that to happen.
Another tip to consider is the importance of creating a unified body of work. Although this can be applied to any creative discipline, in this case I’m directing it particularly to visual artists. This may seem problematic and even contentious, but there is value in maintaining commonalities throughout the production of your work. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have fought fiercely against this idea in the past, simply because I felt that artists should be free to create whatever they want without having to buy into the “formula” that allegedly guarantees a successful art career. But in the years that have passed since, I have realized that your work doesn’t have to look the same in order to be considered unified. It can be unified by the theory that underscores the overall aesthetic and technical qualities. If your body of work is visually varied, then take the time to practice writing about the ideas that inform your work, so that they don’t seem as disparate to the viewing public.
And finally, capitalize on the countless social media platforms that are now available to us free of charge. While persons are still trying to determine if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that social media drives the world we currently live in, use that time to curate online spaces. Recognize that it is now possible to have a successful art career without ever having exhibited work in a physical gallery. Your overhead costs would be cut in half, leaving you with just the electricity and Internet bills to pay, and maybe a web hosting fee if you’re looking for a professional website. Regardless, your reach is multiplied a hundred-fold and your chances of breaking into the international art market are increased exponentially. More importantly, it allows you to build a strong network of artists, curators and collectors without leaving the comfort of your home.
So there you have my tips on how to grab 2016 by the horns. I look forward to sharing more features with my readers, so that we can continue to have these very necessary conversations about the development of art in Guyana. Now go forth and be productive (after enjoying copious amounts of black cake and pepperpot, of course). All the best for the Christmas season and the New Year ahead!
Dominique Hunter is an independent visual artist who recently graduated from the Barbados Community College with a Bachelor of Fine Art (First Class Honours).