Art may be subjective and open to interpretation, but you will never know how others perceive your work if you do not have anything to show them. In other words, you have to make art to share art! But any creative will know that this is never an easy task to achieve, and sometimes when inspiration is avoiding you, procrastination fills the void.
But as an artist, it’s important you do not let yourself go down the rabbit hole of unproductivity, and keep your fingers and mind at work. To get some help, why not team up with an artist accountability partner?
As the name suggests, an artist accountability partner is someone who’s making sure you’re actually doing the work to make progress rather than just waiting for the perfect moment – waiting for the Muse is a risky thing to do! This accountability partner can be a fellow artist or collaborator who’s depending on your work to move forward with achieving their own career goals, or just someone in the field who understands the struggles and wants to help you avoid them. Your artist accountability partners can come as individuals or as a group!
Why You Need An Artist Accountability Partnership
Creating art can be lonely
Your aim may be to create a whole world of your own, but maybe you don't have to do it all on your own. Spending hours in a studio with just your thoughts can get tedious and will certainly start to affect your productivity. So having a good accountability partner you can talk through your process with, share your progress, or just keep you company can help you stay engaged in your work.
Artist's block is real
Every artist knows that sometimes inspiration and success just don’t strike, no matter how hard you try. There are already some ways and tools out there to help you overcome this block – changing formats, walking away for a while, or finding something new to inspire you. With the right person – a good accountability buddy – overcoming the block gets easier because you have someone who is determined to help break the dry spell and get you back to work.
Deadlines get you moving
If you’re a professional artist, there are already people depending on you to finish your work – your clients and fans! But as a creative person, it's hard to stick to time limits. An accountability partnership can help you avoid disappointing yourself and others by creating some deadlines and more importantly, making sure you’re meeting those deadlines.
You need honest, fresh perspectives
The more time you spend as an artist, the harder it is for you to assess your work objectively and give yourself some honest and helpful feedback. Having another pair of eyes that you trust will ultimately help you keep your work interesting, smooth out some lines, and even acknowledge when something just isn't working.
Where to find a good accountability partner for artists
Artists of all backgrounds are part of or aware of a network, community, or organization that fits their vibe – be it a painters' group, a network of craftspeople, or even gender or ethnicity-specific artist communities. Find one and interact with people to see if you can find an accountability partner there.
If you’re more comfortable communicating online, join artists' groups on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit for advice, encouragement, and support from other users. But don't fall too deep into the rabbit hole of art debates!
Join a studio/gallery
If you're looking for a professional to keep you accountable, sign a contract promising your work to a space by a certain deadline. This will not just give you a serious nudge but also serve as a measure of your own progress in the profession.
Start a blog
If you thrive under pressure, start a blog where you update followers on your projects and invite them to keep you accountable. The constant scrutiny and pressure to update will ensure you get work done, and also generate some much-welcome buzz and excitement for your next big piece!
Hire a professional art coach
Even experts can learn from each other! Having an artist buddy at the same level or perhaps a person with some more experience will help you learn new things, get some tips on success, and keep you on track.
Artist partner vs artist group
As we discussed, you can team up with one partner or a group for accountability. If you’re confused as to which option would work best for you, here are some points to keep in mind:
An artist accountability partner allows for more one-on-one meetings and more time for conversation and honest feedback. If it is someone you know well, you can trust them with your unreleased work and know that any feedback they provide comes from a good place.
But while they may be honest with feedback, sometimes they too can miss providing newer perspectives if they're too used to your style and thinking processes. Importantly, they could also be worried about upsetting you and hence their honest feedback may be more diplomatic than you'd like.
An artist accountability group, on the other hand, gives you the benefit of having more eyes and perspectives on your work. The members of your artist community can come from different demographics, so you already have the benefit of a diverse set of critics. And, it’s more likely you’ll get to hear constructive criticism from people who don't just want to please you.
But, you’ll have to be careful about how much of your work you share, if you do not know each member well. And you do need an overall balance of encouraging and brutally honest critics to help you get a well-rounded view of your work.
Tips for working with artist accountability partners
Set an agenda
Agree on proper deadlines for submitting progress. This also involves setting proper goals – so why not try SMART goals?
An example of this would be, instead of just promising your accountability buddy you'll practice painting this week, say you'll go through a specific course by spending three hours on it every day.
The agenda-setting also includes scheduling the time and frequency of your catchups with your partner, so you're both on the same page!
If your partner/group is also in the art field, try to schedule sessions to work together. Do some exercises together like surprise models or sketching prompts to keep the work fun and challenging.
After a group art session, swap your works so you can give feedback to each other. Even if they’re not artists, give them feedback on other areas such as how they’re keeping you accountable or sharing their opinions.
Iterate on the relationship
Be honest with your partner/group about what kind of motivation, accountability partnership, and feedback you're looking for, whether the process is helping you, and how you can continue to work together.
Though it can be supremely rewarding, creating art is a difficult, lonely process. An accountability partner might be the best way to make it fun – and also make sure you're getting work done!
If you're waiting for the Muse and wondering how to get started, here are some more articles you might like!
- Why Can't I Finish Anything, you ask? Here's why.
- How to Do Something You Don't Want to Do
- Why You Should Time Box (Plus Time Box Templates)
- Becoming Is Better Than Being