December 18, 2014 | Alyson Stanfield

Celebrate Your Year: 2014 Personal Review

You’re surely already thinking about and planning for the New Year.
But before you get too far into everything you want to do, take a moment to look back on what you accomplished in 2014. Time to celebrate!

©Victoria Eubanks, Red Sticks & Stones. Encaustic, 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.
©Victoria Eubanks, Red Sticks & Stones. Encaustic, 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

Prepare for your review by 1) setting aside time on your calendar for this process and 2) gathering any data you might need.
This might mean that your first step is updating your bookkeeping.
You also want to have your calendar handy so you can go through it month-by-month.

Expanding Your Profile

What did you do to enhance your professional reputation?
How many people did you add to your mailing list?
How many social media followers did you gain on the various platforms you use?
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
What new marketing material did you develop and use?
Where did you exhibit or retail your art?
What was your most popular blog post?
What social media updates were most popular?
What articles were written about your work?
What articles did you write about your art?
What made the biggest difference in your marketing?
What will you do differently next year?

©Wayne Moran, Hennepin Avenue Bridge Minneapolis. Photograph. Used with permission.
©Wayne Moran, Hennepin Avenue Bridge Minneapolis. Photograph. Used with permission.

Growing Your Business

When did you ask for help or hire someone?
How did you strategize and track your growth?
What resources did you discover?
What technological skills did you learn or improve?
What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
What grants did you apply for?
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
What organizations were you involved with?
What business seminars/workshops/lectures/classes did you participate in?
Where did you save a wad of money?
What are you most excited about?
What will you do differently next year?

Challenging Your Creativity

What artistic medium or skill did you attempt or master?
What creative project was uncomfortable but helped you grow as an artist?
What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
What art seminars/workshops/lectures/classes did you participate in or teach?
How did you improve your studio habits?
What creative challenge do you think you’ll benefit most from?
What will you do differently next year?

©Nancy Laliberte, Coffee and Donuts. Acrylic on panel, 8 x 8 inches. Used with permission.
©Nancy Laliberte, Coffee and Donuts. Acrylic on panel, 8 x 8 inches. Used with permission.

Personal Happiness

What worthy cause did you support?
Whom did you mentor or help out?
What books or seminars helped you with self-growth?
How did you enhance your office or studio environment?
How did you simplify your life?
What did you decide to release?
What did you do that made the biggest difference in your happiness and confidence?
What will you do differently next year?

Finally . . . What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2014? I’d love it if you shared this in a comment below so we can celebrate with you.


38 comments add a comment
  • Looking back I’ve had a great year, lots of things that I’ve done/have happened could easily stand on their own but I’ll resist the urge to list them all. The one I’m most proud of would probably be… finally getting a book published of my work. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to complete for nearly 3 years so drawing a line under the production feels like a huge step forward. In reality, as we know, the production of the book is not the end of the story but a whole new chapter and something else to promote.

  • This year my biggest accomplishment was getting into the ACC Baltimore show as a representative of SNAG. This is a life goal of mine and it’s a huge show with top tier craft, so I am super proud of this. I also did a post of accomplishments on my blog

  • In April I became a Fellow of the Explorers Club. My application was partly based on my work as an artist supporting conservation in Mongolia. I’ll be going to the Annual Dinner in March which will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Membership in the Club will potentially put me in contact with affluent potential buyers and collectors of my paintings of Mongolia subjects, a specialization that has been challenging to find a market for, but is my passion as an artist.

  • I was thrilled to have one of my paintings included in the book Acrylic Works and then I had two paintings included in Incite 2! This was a concrete affirmation that I’m on my way!

  • I’ve had a great year in terms of my artistic growth – oh I don’t even know where to begin, but finally meeting my mentor Melinda Cootsona in person, and painting with her a few days in California was amazing!
    Next year, I need to focus more on sales, and I will work on getting gallery representations and connecting with art consultants. I wish you are in Australia, Alyson.

    • Lucy: It’s been a pleasure watching you grow. And I’m not a consultant, so I can’t help you even if I were in Australia. Just apply your marketing knowledge to the process. You can do this. :)

  • Alyson! Good evening. (I now have morning).
    There are only two weeks and closes the last day of 2014. It was an easy and busy year. I am going to a big to-do list. Something managed to do something was not on – teeth. But I touched it new, and I will quietly continue to enter into the work shop. From afar, it seemed that everything is easier and closer.
    In 2014 he took part in the competition of international design in Italy. Participated in the international exhibition “Symbols of Life” in Germany. Held a one-day exhibition in Brussels (Belgium). To contest the important exhibition in China. Held a solo exhibition at the National Art Museum of Kyrgyzstan. With colleagues from the Lions Club is preparing an international arts festival “Stars of the Silk Road” in Bishkek in 2015. Significantly expanded the list. Entered into negotiations with galleries in Berlin, Rome and Barcelona. Completed several large projects for the interior. For the first time, presented a complete collection of jewelery and objects dedicated to 400 Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty.
    In Italy the competition A’Design Award of my works are awarded with platinum and two gold prize. Carl Faberge Memorial Foundation said my highest award Fund – Order of Carl Faberge diamond.
    This is the result of lung and busy year.
    I walked along your recommendations! Thank U!

  • After 2 shows in Rhode Island I gave away a lot of my New England Art to the Art Connetion in Rhode Island for gifting to Non Profit groups. Once moved to Denver in Aug I was able to rent a studio and produce a small body of Western Work. I updated my web page and made new beautiful business cards and postcards. That done, I wish to start approaching Galleries, print up some Greeting Cards to try to use for promotional purposes.

    • Bev: How interesting that you gave your paintings away before moving. I wish they had bought them, but I know how nice it is to release inventory that is no longer serving you. Welcome to Colorado! :)

  • I took your advice and created an income plan and checked it each week. I have sold more than I thought in two income streams – in times of the year I did not expect. That plan and the weekly reviews really helped me stay on task when the work was overwhelming. Thank you Alyson!

  • This may not sound like much, but this year the best thing that happened to my art career was simply sticking with it! I had an exhausting pregnancy, and a new baby born in July, plus a teenager who is having some struggles. Motherhood is taking all of my time and energy but I’ve worked too hard to get where I am to just let it go. I managed to create 20 new paintings for 2 different shows, plus exhibited some (not much) older work in 2 more shows and got some of my prints and card sets into a local shop. My marketing has gone to the wayside but I’m looking forward to a new year and a new routine in the new studio that we are building!

  • Alyson, thank you for another insightful post. Your list of things to ponder regarding 2014 is helpful and fun to think about. Although the past year was full of new adventures in my art career, my favorite moment was the launch of my picture book, ‘The Angry Artist’ Many creatives have enjoyed it greatly; and that has been a bright spot for me!

  • This may sound like a small thing but I had an out of town visitor – a collector of pottery – find me using a web search. They asked to visit my studio as my website indicates that is is open by appointment. I was able to accommodate their request and they came by, admired my work and made a purchase. Since there are many pottery studios in the area, I was pleased to know that I came up in a search of the area at or near the top as they were only in town for a short time and I was the first studio they requested to visit. I also noticed this year, that my Etsy shop was being found more often by searches outside of Etsy than in previous years. My efforts in maintaining a visible on-line presence are paying off, although as always there is much room for improvement.

  • Well 2014 has been a great year for me personally and professionally. I have also had a few ups and downs in the job i was in because i hated it.
    I have seen a growth spurt in my art business since July the job ended in June thank god! i had a rest did nothing socialised and recharged my batteries. From mid July until now I have gained five followers on my tv channel from 0. I discovered the you tube community and have become involved in that which has helped me gain the followers and spread the word about my business and channel. My videos are monetised and from September i have earned money from them.
    New Skills I learned in 2014
    The physiology behind marketing and how to write effective emails which will get opened.
    Set up my website so it passes the 8 second test (and it does!) Someone downloaded the info from my squeeze page, they are my first. I am building customer relations successfully with them and they are now signed up to my email list.
    I collaborated with another brand unrelated to art and gained another person to my email list.
    I put on two solo exhibitions this year
    Learned how to find my target audience
    60 more people subscribed to twitter
    From March i gained followers from all over the world for my blogs
    Things are coming together and i am starting to see results for all the hard work i put in at all hours of the night and day.
    Goals for 2015
    I have two exhibitions secured for 2015, one at the end of January and the other beginning of June.
    By the end of December 2015 I will
    Have sold all original artwork to my target audience
    More people subscribed to all social media sites and tv channel
    Be in a position to quit the day job and be a full time artist yay!

  • Last year I was awarded a 1% commission by the State of New Hampshire to create work for a public building. I created six 40 x 90 inch pulp paintings of the state tree (the white birch) as it transitioned through the times of day and seasons of the year. To celebrate this milestone in my career, I hosted an Open Studio event-and 200 people came! The amount of publicity and research I did before the event is what made it such a success. The smartest publicity move I made was to reach out to all the people who had collected my work over the years and ask them if they would mail the postcards I had printed for the event with a message to their friends who had admired my work. Not only did this act encourage these people to attend, but they brought their friends with them. I sold several prints and originals as a result. I followed up with thank you cards, with a reproduction of an original on the front, to everyone who purchased something at the event. Postcards of the installed commission have been ordered to send to all attendees (I had a guest book for them to sign).

  • 2014 was amazing! After almost one year of working as an emerging artist, I exhibited in seven juried shows, won three awards, participated in Boulder’s Fall Open Studios artists tour, landed my first gallery spot, completed nearly 50 new paintings, and had over 30 sales! I want to sincerely THANK YOU for all of your amazing online content, endless encouragement, and inspiration. Cheers to the adventure of 2015!

  • Single best thing that happened to my Art Biz in 2014? Great question. I think my solo show of my “Our Ladies of Perpetual Housework.”
    Thanks for the great list of reflection questions, I’m going to do those now!

  • I just had to post again and say thanks for these great questions! I kept writing “nothing, I didn’t do anything in that category this year,” and then I’d go “Wait! Yes I did!” I accomplished a lot more than I thought I did last year, thanks for all those thought provoking questions to help me realize that! And make better plans for next year.
    We’re going to use these questions at our artist’s group meeting next week.

  • Pat Wafer

    What a wonderful idea and how well thought out and organized! I found this blog entry on Making a Mark. I often make a list of what I want to accomplish in a coming year but never give a thought to evaluating the previous year which it would be well to do first! I intend to set aside some time this week to concentrate on your questions. And I will share this discovery with a couple artist friends. Thanks so much, Alyson and Happy 2015!

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