6 Ways to End the Year Creatively

By Carolyn Edlund

During the quietest time of the year for your art business, you can make the most of your time even if you’re not meeting customers and selling your work.


artist studio shot


1. Take Inventory. Do you even remember what you have? Make sure you have a complete inventory of your art or craft, and that you know where it all is. Which pieces are being stored? Others in an exhibition? Do any galleries have possession of your work? What was sold, and what is available? Consider Artwork Archive to keep your inventory with ease. And because they store your inventory online, it won’t get lost like paper records or computer files can.

2. Clean Out Your Studio. This can be therapeutic. My studio had a tendency to collect all kinds of stuff, and it just felt good to clear it all out once in a while. If you tend to be a pack rat, or even feel like you might be on the next episode of Extreme Hoarders, vow to use the coming weeks to recycle, give away or discard anything that you don’t need and haven’t used.

3. Evaluate the Past Year. Here’s where you need to get real about your small business. What is working and what is not? If a show you have tried for several years isn’t cutting it, move on. If you consigned your work and got nothing for it, end that relationship. The truth is that today artists need to be very savvy about where they put their time, money and efforts. It can be stressful making changes, but push through the tendency to remain complacent and search for the best ways to sell your work going forward.

4. Do some SMART Planning. Here’s where you start for the new year. What is your goal, specifically and  measurably? Do you want to sell $50,000 worth of art? Increase sales by 20%? Create thirty-five new paintings? Open ten wholesale accounts? Do three trade shows? Unless you know where you’re headed, you will lose direction and motivation. Break down your yearly goals into quarterly and monthly milestones. You can even back it all up to what you need to do today to start making your goals happen.

5. Get Your Records Together. January 15 is the deadline for fourth quarter estimated tax payments. Make sure you will pay enough tax to avoid penalties later on. Pull your records together for mileage, supplies, labor, and everything else, so you are ready to see your accountant (or roll up your own sleeves) and do your taxes early if you have a refund coming. You can use that windfall to move your art business forward.

6. Relax. Everyone needs their batteries recharged, and this may be the perfect time to do it. Take a trip and put yourself into a new environment that will inspire you. If you need to stay near home, just getting out into nature can clear your mind and help you with more creative ideas. Take time for yourself to recover and renew your attitude and your motivation.



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  1. really good solid advice…already been working on #3!! but i definitely need to do #2!!!

  2. Hi Carolyn,

    This year has been a good year, and thank God for so many outstanding artists and customers right here in our own country. It takes a lot of folks to help raise an artist like myself, who is not steeped in art education but a lot of hands on from other artists really helps.

    Most of of my analytical reviews of my last year, planning for the new year , studio organization, and tax documentation is in order, and the last bit of, must say most important, advice is to recharge the battery and relax. Taking care of oneself is so important if beautiful art is going to be the result of painting all year. Helping others too, helps to keep connected to the special people everywhere, and to let them know how special they all are.
    Blessings to you and I hope the paintings you create this year are stunning, vibrant, special and life sharing, happy new year.

    Jim Springett-artist

    • Very true, Jim! Thanks for pointing out what is really important here, which are personal relationships and taking care of ourselves first.

      Happy New Year and many successes in 2013!

  3. I have been cleaning my studio but what I was most surprised at is the number of paintings I had forgotten about through poor record keeping. Inventory is #1 on my list for the year to come

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