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Dulldrums and doubtmares

January 31, 2011

There are many aspects of running my own business that I am looking forward to: spending lots of time painting, drawing and being creative; choosing the projects I want to run with, and how to proceed with them; and generally having the power to make my own decisions, big and small. But, of course, there is also a side of running a business which is much less appealing – the part where I have to write and act upon business plans; keep the books and manage the finances; market my goods and services, and attend to boring adminstrative details like choosing and applying for insurance policies, software updates and professional memberships.

Having been (to some extent) out of the arts business for several years, my business is in need of a thorough overhaul. Thankfully, having worked in other fields I now feel I have far more experience of “how the world works” than I did as a new illustration graduate. I can look at my business with fresh eyes, and see aspects of my arts and business practices that I can (hopefully) drastically improve. While there is a part of me that is impatient to throw myself headlong into my art supplies and ignore the admistrative underpinnings of my business, I have a strong suspicion that taking the time now to set things up carefully (something I completely neglected the first time I set up shop as an illustrator) will provide my business with much stronger foundations for the future.

But the “dull stuff” takes time, doesn’t generate an income, and is often very costly. I tell myself I am investing in myself and my business, and remind myself that if I won’t believe in myself I can’t very well expect anyone else to. This is generally enough to keep me chugging along fairly optimistically during daylight, but after dark it is so much harder. I have sleepness nights and “doubt-mares” in which I dream about to-do-lists, expenses, bad decisions, and being wrapped in cloying, inescapable, unbreakable spider-webs. Despite the work I’m putting in each day, at night my mind seems convinced that I’m frittering away my time fruitlessly. “What, still no new paintings since the new year?”, my brain seems to asks mockingly, “what have you been doing?”

So, here is a list of some of the things I’ve done this January, most of which fall into the category of “dull-but-important”:

  • First, got over a really nasty cold which took several weeks
  • Then, successfully finished painting a non-representational work I began late last year, (see brain, I have done some painting)
  • Painted a representational work in gouache which I am not satisfied with, but which I think can be successfully reworked, (and brain, you have to accept that every painting is not going to be successful. I have to take some risks or I can’t be creative).
  • Substantially tidied and reorganised my office space and filing system
  • Rejoined Illustrators Australia
  • Signed up for several small business workshops, and a screen printing workshop
  • Contacted a former regular client who was very positive about the possibility of future work
  • Alerted my insurance company to the fact that I’m operating a home-based business, and insured I have adequate cover
  • Upgraded various items of computer software and hardware that are vital to allowing me to operate my arts business efficiently
  • Researched and chose a business name for a new “arm” of my business, and applied to register the name
  • Contacted a distributor regarding distributing a new range of my greeting cards
  • Researched business plan writing
  • Made an appointment to meet with an arts specialist accountant, and made a long list of questions to ask
  • Started this blog as a way to record my experiences, reflect on my progress, reach out to the world-wide community of creative folk, and promote my work

So, doubting voice in my head, be quelled.  And blog readers, (should you exist), apologies for today’s concentration on the dull and the dreary. Upbeat posting is expected to recommence tomorrow.

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