Responding to open calls and submitting art for shows is actually a pretty big task. All of the steps from finishing a piece to framing and submitting can be daunting. I have about 12 paintings that I’m ready to send out into the world. This is going to be a complex project, but it will be manageable if I stick to a plan. In my past career, I worked a lot with managing complicated projects, so I am hoping to use that knowledge as an artist.
For this project, I decided to use the 1-4-1 method. This means that the project is broken down for a completion date within a month’s time. I started by thinking about and recording my overarching goal:
“To improve my CV and get my art into the world,
I will apply to ten opportunities this month”.
This is what the first “1” in the 1-4-1 method stands for--one big goal. It might seem like it’s a huge goal to submit to ten opportunities. However, I have a lot of work to send out, so ten submissions seems pretty reasonable. I made my goal measurable by listing out the exact number of submissions within a specific timeframe.
The “4” in the 1-4-1 Method stands for 4 action steps. I listed the four main steps that I will need to accomplish each week in order to achieve my goal. In this case the steps are as follows:
Apply to Opportunities
Prepare Pieces to Show
Over the month, I will focus on just one of these action steps at a time. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into the project. By categorizing parts of the project, I focus better on making sure each step is completed with quality. Many times in the past, I tried to do all of these steps at the same time. That was pretty stressful! In this case, each week focuses on a different action step. At the end of four weeks, the project is completed.
The last part of the 1-4-1 Method is listing one task per day that relates to achieving the action step. For instance, on week one, I performed the five daily tasks needed to complete the photography of the artwork, These steps were as follows:
Monday: Photograph all new work and work that needs a new photo
Tuesday: Upload photos to Lightroom
Wednesday: Edit and Resize Photos
Thursday: Save photos to drive with naming conventions
Friday: Add links to photos in master inventory sheet.
Breaking down this step into tasks spread over multiple days frees up time for studio work. Completing the entire photography step takes hours of tedious computer work. For me, it works better if I break it up. Each of the action steps follows in a similar manner, with very specific tasks spread throughout each week.
You can use this method of completing a project for any big goal, as long as it can be broken down into concrete steps. This process can also be recycled each month to become part of a regular work flow. For this project, I will know if I’m successful by looking back at my goal. Did I submit to ten opportunities within a month? The cool thing is that it won’t matter if the work is accepted or not. I’ll know the success of completing a big goal.