Progressing as an artist

Progressing as an artist

How do I quantify progressing as an artists if I cannot count sales or events.

There are several ways to evaluate growth and evolution as an artist, beyond sales and external validation. Here are some suggestions:

1. Self-Reflection and Journaling

  • Regular Reflection: Set aside time to reflect on your work and your feelings about it. How do you feel about your latest pieces compared to those from a year, five years, or ten years ago?
  • Artistic Journals: Maintain a journal and document your creative process, thoughts, and emotions. This can help you see patterns, changes, and growth over time.


2. Artistic Goals and Milestones

  • Set Goals: Define what progress means to you. It could be mastering a new technique, experimenting with different subjects or styles, or achieving a specific emotional or conceptual depth.
  • Track Milestones: Keep track of your achievements, big and small. This could be completing a series, participating in a new type of show, or receiving feedback that resonates with you.


3. Portfolio Review

  • Compare Bodies of Work: Periodically review your body of work. Look for themes, stylistic evolution, technical improvements, and changes in how you express your vision.
  • Curate a Retrospective: Create a retrospective collection showcasing the evolution of your work. This can help you see the broader arc of your artistic journey.


4. Feedback from Trusted Sources

  • Seek Constructive Critique: Engage with a mentor, art coach, or a group of trusted fellow artists who respect your medium and can provide constructive, honest feedback.
  • Diverse Perspectives: Consider feedback from different sources—collectors, art critics, and non-artist friends—to get a well-rounded view.


5. Public and Professional Recognition

  • Exhibitions and Awards: Participation in exhibitions, art fairs, and winning awards can be indicators of progress, though they should not be the sole measure.
  • Press and Publications: Being featured in art publications or receiving media coverage can also signal recognition of your work's impact.

6. Personal Fulfillment and Connection

  • Emotional Impact: Assess how your work makes you feel and how it resonates with others. Personal fulfillment and the ability to connect with your audience are significant markers of success.
  • Narrative Coherence: Consider if your work effectively communicates your personal narrative and experiences. Does it tell the story you want it to tell?


7. Impact on Others

  • Audience Engagement: Pay attention to how viewers engage with your work. Are they moved, inspired, or provoked? Do they see the depth and layers of your personal journey?
  • Collector Feedback: Gather feedback from collectors about why they were drawn to your work and how it impacts them.


8. Technological and Technical Mastery

  • Skill Development: Evaluate how your technical skills have improved over time. This includes both your mastery of photography techniques and your ability to leverage new technology.
  • Innovation and Experimentation: Look at how you've incorporated new tools, techniques, or styles into your work. Are you pushing the boundaries of your medium?



While there may never be a definitive answer to whether you are progressing as an artist, combining these approaches can give you a comprehensive picture of your artistic evolution. Ultimately, your progress is a deeply personal and subjective journey, reflecting both your growth as a person and as a creator. Embrace the journey, honor your personal narrative, and continue to find fulfillment in the process of creating and sharing your art.


When you ask the question again people respond are you insecure of your art. Art in general evolves as a person's life experiences influence their vision. An artist who is person of color  would see the world differently from a white person. A single mother has different experiences from a mother in a traditional household with a partner. My medium, photography, is influenced by technology. The never-ending learning process forces me to keep evolving my vision and possibilities. I ask friends on Facebook about it and the answer keeps coming, you can only be the one that can know.


So the question still lingers.


I see progress in my presentation by viewing old images of my art show booth. Still, some of my old photos from 10 years ago keep selling at the art shows. Images that were not popular 5 years ago are getting attention now. That factor alone tells me that I cannot go for what I sold at an event, website, etc.


The images I am producing now, versus 10 years ago are different because I have changed as a person. 15 years ago, I was happily married now I am happily single. What I was seeking in the past for imagery is not the same as today.


Should I base my progress on my peers? As a photographer, I do not find that appealing. I do not expect other artists to approval because most them in the art fair circuit do not respect photography as an art form. On top of that, I need to add the layer of race. I been told that it is not only your work that gets you into shows, it is your race.


I sit in front of my art display at an art fair and ask myself does my display communicates my life experience in my work. I started to wonder because I personally feel that I am in a better place than before. If my experiences allow me to get into a  higher end show it will be great, but that should not my goal. My goal is to communicate my life experience to a collector.


My future goal is to ignore statements such as  you do not deserve to be at that show and other denigrating comments. I can come to the conclusion that my work reflects a journey in my life. Creating better work is a reflection of where I am as person but then again those that think your work is worthless, is hurtful especially if you are in low point in your life. I know my photography has helped me to navigate through dark times and get me to better place.


Perhaps the question can never be answered.

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