Artistic Ambition: How to Set SMART Goals for Art Business Success in 2024

Jan 03, 2024

Have you ever wondered how to transform your artistic passion into a sustainable career? It starts with setting clear, actionable goals—SMART goals—for your art business.

In this guide, we'll walk you through SMART goal-setting to help you achieve the creative life of your dreams. You'll learn how to:

  • clarify your artistic vision

  • set achievable goals (including both artistic goals and personal goals)

  • overcome resistance so you reach your goals and see your vision become reality

Plus, learn how you can turn your passion for art into your profession in only one year.

Artistic Vision: Set the Stage for Success

Artist setting up easel in a bright art studio

Far better than quickly-forgotten New Year’s resolutions, goals are the stepping stones to fulfilling your artistic vision. Before setting these creative goals, you must clearly define your artistic vision.

Your artistic vision is more than just a dream; it’s the foundation of a flourishing artistic career. Like a compass guiding your creative journey, your vision provides clarity, direction, motivation, purpose, and a roadmap for your creative endeavors.

An artistic vision is a comprehensive view of what you want to achieve with your art—a declaration of your values, aspirations, and the unique imprint you wish to leave on the world through your creative works.

To define your artistic vision, answer questions like:

  • What is your mission?

  • What do you do?

  • Why do you do it?

  • Who do you do it for?

  • What will your art business look like in a year and then five, ten, and twenty years from now?

Write down your artistic vision and revisit this document repeatedly to help you stay focused, motivated, and consistent in your branding.

By defining your artistic vision, you can expand your artistic horizons and realize your artistic dreams.

The SMART Goal System for Artists

Artist sketching out SMART goals on a notepad

With your artistic vision in place, the next step is actualizing it. With proper SMART goal-setting, you can turn your vision into a reality. SMART goals are your roadmap—a personalized, step-by-step approach to a fulfilling art career.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Relevant

  • Time-bound

SMART goals are your action plan. Writing down these tangible goals provides clarity, direction, and a sense of achievement, making it easier to track your progress and stay motivated.

These goals push the boundaries of your comfort zone, compelling you to explore new ideas and techniques, enhance artistic skills, and continuously evolve creatively.

Whether you need to learn better time management, find a more inspiring studio space, or take on new projects, SMART goals will empower you to overcome the biggest challenges in your artistic pursuits and accomplish more than you thought possible.

Are you prepared to establish SMART creative goals for the success of your art business? Let’s delve deeper into the factors that make your goals SMART.

Specific Goals for Your Art Career

The first ingredient in the SMART goal recipe is specificity. Setting specific goals for your art career will bring you clarity and help you plan effectively—especially useful for emerging artists. Whether your goal is to master a new medium or learn a new artistic skill, clearly defined outcomes keep you focused and motivated.

A goal to become a better painter is too general. Instead, "master my self-portrait" is a clearly defined creative goal that provides focus and something specific to achieve.

Measurable Artistic Progress

Measurable goals enable you to track and measure your creative business progress. For instance, you might set a goal to sell a certain number of paintings or gain a specific number of new social media followers by the end of the year.

By attaching specific numbers to your goals, you can track your progress as a successful artist and stay motivated.

Achievable Art Goals

Setting achievable art goals is about balancing challenging yourself and setting realistic goals. These goals should push you to reach your full potential while remaining within reach.

By breaking down long-term goals into smaller, achievable goals, you can focus on incremental tasks that lead to the ultimate objective, making steady progress and achieving your aspirations.

For example, if one of your long-term goals is to build a strong online presence, you can break that down into smaller goals like:

  • Create a professional portfolio website

  • Set up social media profiles

  • Connect with other artists online

  • Implement an email newsletter

Relevance in Art Business Goals

It's good to set artistic goals like trying new things to improve your creative process, but ensuring your goals align with your overall vision and personal ambitions is essential. Setting relevant goals ensures you’re on the right track and every step is toward your larger artistic vision.

Not all creative entrepreneurs will have the same goals. An established professional with ongoing gallery representation will have different goals than an emerging artist focused on creating a consistent body of work and developing their artistic identity. Set goals relevant to your current creative season and your position in the art world.

Time-Bound Goals for Artistic Success

The “T” in SMART stands for time-bound. A deadline creates a sense of urgency and keeps you motivated. So, whether your goal is to complete a new painting or to master a new technique, set a specific timeline for your goal.

Attaining artistic success isn’t a sprint; it’s more like a marathon. By prioritizing your goals and focusing on the most important and urgent tasks, you can efficiently manage your time and consistently progress toward achieving your SMART goals.

Examples of SMART Artist Goals

Artist working on a new project in a well-lit studio

Now that we’ve walked through the SMART goal system let’s look at some examples of SMART art goals.

A SMART goal for expanding your reach might be: “Increase my Instagram following by 20% over the next six months using daily posts and weekly live art sessions”.

If you want to create more art and have fun, a SMART goal might be: "Complete the 100-Painting Challenge once every three months (for a total of four times) this year."

Is completing a painting more time-consuming than it should be? A SMART goal might be: "Enroll in a relevant art workshop or class to improve proficiency in [specific art technique] and enlist the help of an art mentor within the next four months."

Here are a few more general examples of SMART goals for artists:

  • Collaborate with at least one other artist on a project or exhibition within the next six months

  • Submit applications for at least two artist residencies or grants within the next year

  • Create and exhibit a collection of at least ten cohesive pieces within the next six months

  • Establish a commission policy and attract two new clients by the end of the year

  • Take a class to learn how to take better photos of your artwork for your online art portfolio by the end of March

These examples demonstrate how to tailor SMART goals to your unique aspirations and circumstances.

Personalize Your SMART Goals

Setting goals often intimidates the creative person who loathes the idea of being "put in a box,” but effective goal-setting adapts to the individual. Personalize your own goals to match your unique aspirations and circumstances.

While many artists have similar goals, resist the temptation to compare your art goals with other artists. Whether your goal is to perfect your technical skills, sell more paintings, or grow your social media following, ensure your SMART goals resonate with you and your creative journey.

Schedule for Success

Artist using a planner to schedule creative tasks

With your SMART goals established, the next step is to schedule for success. The key to achieving your goals lies in effective time management. Prioritize your goals, focus on the most critical tasks, and develop the habit of sticking to your schedule.

There are 168 hours in a week. How will you use them to create art and achieve your art business goals?

Overcome Resistance to Achieve Your Goals

Even with the best-laid plans, you may still encounter resistance to achieving your artistic goals. This resistance can manifest in many ways, such as procrastination, lack of motivation, or self-doubt.

Nevertheless, identifying and overcoming these obstacles is vital to your path to success.

Identify Roadblocks

The first step to overcoming resistance is identifying the roadblocks holding you back. Roadblocks could be things like:

  • a lack of resources

  • the fear of failure

  • self-doubt

  • perfectionism

You can develop strategies to overcome these barriers and achieve your artistic destiny by recognizing them.

Plan a Reward

Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals can also help to overcome resistance. Whether big or small, writing down these rewards motivates you to complete tasks and keep moving forward.

Your reward should fit your goal. For example, reward yourself with a piece of chocolate at the end of a long painting session or a well-deserved vacation after a successful art exhibition.

Plan your rewards and look forward to them.

Remember the Benefits

Sometimes, the reward alone is not enough to keep you going, so write down the benefits of achieving each goal, too. By focusing on positive outcomes, such as improving your skills, expanding your reach, or achieving financial stability, you can stay motivated and committed to your artistic dreams.

If you aim to paint 40 hours per week for the next 12 weeks, your reward might be to go out to dinner at a specific restaurant and splurge on a new pair of shoes for yourself. The benefits may include developing a consistent art routine, creating 24 new pieces of artwork to sell, and producing enough social media content to post on a regular basis for three months.

Stay Inspired and Cultivate Creativity

Artists collaborating on a colorful mural project

Maintaining inspiration and fostering creativity is critical to achieving your artistic goals. Finding inspiration in everyday life, collaborating with other creatives, and overcoming creative blocks can help you consistently create your own art and pursue your artistic destiny.

Finding inspiration daily can keep you motivated and your creative juices flowing. It's as simple as observing the world around you, sketching people and places, or exploring diverse cultural and historical artwork.

Collaborating with other creatives is also a great way to stay inspired and learn new skills. By sharing ideas and working together on projects, you can grow as an artist and create more diverse and compelling art.

Finally, overcoming creative blocks is crucial to maintaining a steady creative workflow. Whether through brainstorms, mind maps, or simply taking a break, find what works for you and keep those creative juices flowing.

Celebrate Milestones and Reflect on Achievements

Artisan chocolates—a fun reward for achieving an art goal. Photo by Jessica Johnston on Unsplash

While progressing towards your artistic goals, keeping track of your milestones will help you to appreciate your accomplishments and motivate you to accomplish more art goals. Review your progress monthly for a confidence boost.

Take some time to reflect on your artistic journey. You can learn valuable lessons and gain insights to guide your future creative endeavors by reviewing your successes and failures over a year.

Showcase your growth in your art portfolio. By displaying your best artwork, you can demonstrate your improvement and diversity in styles and mediums, impressing potential clients or galleries.

Set Goals to Create a Thriving Art Business in 2024

A goal planner for strategic business planning. Photo by Alexa Williams on Unsplash

The beginning of a new year is the best time to pursue a prosperous art business through strategic planning, including setting goals—both long-term and short-term goals.

Strategic planning is the first step toward financial stability. It starts with crafting a comprehensive business plan, pricing your artwork for profit, and understanding the art market.

Next, develop a marketing strategy to reach your target audience. Your plan might involve building an engaging online presence, growing your social media following, and converting followers into patrons.

Diversifying your income streams is also crucial for financial stability. Examples include selling prints, collecting royalties from licensing, or teaching art workshops. By diversifying your income streams, you can ensure a steady flow of income and protect your art business from potential downturns.

Finally, invest in professional development. While ongoing, intentional learning is a great idea for every creative person, it's necessary for any aspiring professional artist. You can stay competitive and keep your art business thriving by continuously learning new skills, cultivating fresh ideas, and adapting to changes in the art industry.

Transform Your Passion into Profession This Year

Setting SMART goals for your art business can transform your artistic passion into a sustainable career. Whether you’re just starting or are already well-established, remember to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Stay inspired, overcome resistance, and celebrate your achievements.

The Mastery Program can help you pursue your artistic goals and launch your art career. Our proven process can turn anyone into a professional artist in just one year. Join the Mastery Program today and make 2024 the year you realize your artistic dream.

Here’s to creating a thriving art business in 2024!

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