Goals Anyone?


Bluebells, 8 x 8″ monoprint

“Goals in life as in art should be specific in order to hope to attain them.”

– Raynald Murphy

Do you have goals, specific or otherwise, for your art? What things in life are better served with goals and which are not, or at least do not require them? Which camp does art fall into?

Setting goals as an artist can be a risky business since goal setting is often associated with issues of success/failure and acceptance/rejection. But isn’t setting goals a critical component of making progress and effecting change in anything we do?

It’s possible to have different types of goals, some externally focused and some more internal. For example, if you are trying to have a commerical career as an artist, you will probably be more successful if you identify specific, measurable goals – have a certain number of shows, be in a certain number of galleries, etc. This way you can identify and take the necessary steps to achieve those goals and make appropriate course corrections as needed. You may also have personal goals having nothing to do with the outside world. These might include developing certain skills, finding your unique style, using art to communicate with your inner self, etc. In either case, you are responsible for setting the goal, so you get to define what constitutes success.

Personally I believe that most things in life are more satisfying if done with some goals in mind. Otherwise, I feel that I’m drifting aimlessly and letting the world dictate what happens. The challenge is to manage the process of achieving your goals without allowing what others define as success become your definition. As I discussed in my last posting, thinking of a particular result as an “outcome” instead of a success or failure can help you see each result as just another step. It is important to remain the sole judge of progress in achieving the goals you’ve chosen.

8 responses to “Goals Anyone?

  1. I do have goals, but I hold them loosely, to allow for adjustments in response to what is happening. My over all goal is to be the best artist I can be. I have two areas of artistic focus; my contemporary painting, which may or may not include collage, and my smaller collage, which are experimental and fun. I do collage as warm up, or when my time or energy is limited. And now I also have another artistic area with goals, and that is my blog. The purpose of my blog is to have fun connecting with other artists.

  2. Leslie

    It’s challenging to know how specific to make goals when it comes to art. You describe yours as loose and I think that’s what most of us lean toward, especially when it comes to artistic development. Having too specific a goal in this area may also serve to prevent us from exploring new areas just for fun that may lead to new and interesting directions for us.

    I guess we could have a specific goal to spend x amount of time exploring new areas just for fun – I’ll bet some artists forget to do this! I know I do…

  3. Strong and beautiful piece of art, wonderful blue tones…


    My first goal with my art is to make my daily life as beautiful as possible. Art is a wonderful way how I can spend my days, at home or travelling, in fact it is the most tangibly satisfying one. It gives a further meaning to everything I do: for example it makes the travelling much more interesting and enjoyable (for me and for the people who enjoy my travelling sketches). Or even when I buy a new beautiful coffee cup: the pleasure is double because I will paint the cup!
    Art allows me also to have a wonderful connection to people: fellow artists, clients, admirers.

    My second goal, which is more difficult to reach, is “to make things happen”. i get bored easily by the every day life, I basically need that things happen. My art does it for me, as far I am ready to invest some time to put it in places where things are likely to happen…

    i have no personal aims from the art of becoming better. Not that I feel I don’t need to, but this is the kind of aim which bores me. Getting better is for me a tool, not an aim.

    I think that I can say: I haven’t really goals in art, but art is there to serve my basic and unique goal of trying to be with Kevin as happy as possible each instant of our life. Might sound very trivial, but this is my truth.

  4. As a musician, my career path has changed dramatically over the years. In my twenties, my goals were defined for me, I needed to succeed, and therefore they were of necessity, commercial ones. This is not to say being commercial is a bad, nor an easy thing, simply that, in musical terms, it puts a constraint on exactly what you can create, it comes with a set of rules, even boundaries. Nowadays, unburdened by the need to keep record companies happy, and with the luxury to pick projects, and even have a record company ready to release one of them whenever we’re ready – means I can write what I want, when I want. Sometimes it’s commercial, sometimes not. But this doesn’t mean my goals have vanished, merely changed. My goal of a pressure free, openly creative working environment, unburdened by others expectations, is a goal I have, in the last few years, achieved. I think my work is better for it.

  5. I agree with you, it’s important not to get caught up in what others define has success. I mean I am sure I could paint pictures of puppies (nothing against dogs, I actually like dogs) and be somewhat monetarily ‘successful’ at it, but I would never want to do that. Success for me is pursuing my own individual style and seeing where that leads.

  6. Love this mono print of yours. I just wandered in from Martha Marshall’s site. I love topics like this one that make me think. I’m not sure about goals…. Goals, it’s a funny word that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I agree about having loose goals and I guess my other thought is about not being too attached to goals, that I might miss opportunities if I focus too strongly on set goals. I may miss what the world is offering me, something that I never even thought of.

    Right now I have a goal of writing on my blog for 100 days in a row and posting a piece of art with each writing, so that’s specific goal. Past that I’m not sure. I hate goals like I will sell 100 pieces of art this month or something so specific and beyond our control, those are the kinds of goals that I think make me uncomfortable and feel like setting myself up for failure.

    Thanks for offering me the opportunity to think about goals.
    Carole Leslie

  7. This is a very interesting post and one that has made me do some thinking. I do set some goals but they are usually interrupted by obligations that have to come first in my life, but after reading this I think it is a good practice even if you have to interrupt them at times.

  8. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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