Creative Challenges – Season 2

Catherine Orer

Setting a Quarterly Focus – A 3-Step Plan

Catherine finds it best to schedule work around a 90-day cycle.  If you’d like a cheat sheet to guide you through the process, you can download one for free from Catherine’s website here.

1st: Set your area of focus for this quarter.

What are you aiming to change or achieve?

What are your desired outcomes? Choose no more than 3.

How will you measure success?

2nd: Create a plan – what is the strategy you will use to succeed?

Lay it out over 90 days in whatever way makes sense to you – mindmaps, Trello boards, etc.

Remember, things take longer than you expect!

A formula to determine how long it will take to do something you’ve never done before is: your estimated time + 20%, then double it!

3rd: Accountability – don’t expect willpower alone to get you to the results you want.

Get an accountability partner, join a business community group, join Catherine’s Lab, ask a friend or mentor to hold you accountable.

You will need this once resistance hits, and it will. Because if you’ve made an ambitious plan, you’ll be getting out of your comfort zone, so there will be resistance.



Jo Downs

Getting out there

Jo’s challenge is a call to action, to put time into talking about and sharing your work. As she puts it, “making is easy, getting out there is the hard part”.

There are 3 stages:

Research: Where do you want your work to be?

Make a list of galleries, locations, collections that you’d like to target.

Who do you need to talk to? What are they looking for? Where can you find them? (Jo found a listing of Architects and Interior Designers and started there.)

Prepare: Get your materials together.

Create and compile images of your work, update your CV and website.

Act:Confront the discomfort” and let people know about your work.

Make a phone call, or go into a gallery, from your list. Have a conversations with people. It’s the conversations that matter, as the people you talk to will be able to give you specific information about where your works fits into their agenda – not commercial enough, too commercial, etc. You won’t know until you have those conversations.

If you’re interested in what you’re doing, then they’ll be interested” – Jo Downs



Jeff Goins

Jeff offered two challenges…

Practice in public

This is THE THING that separated amateurs from pros – if you want to make a living as an artist, at some point you have to be willing to put your work out there in public for everybody to see.” – Jeff Goins

Practicing in public is how you find an audience and introduce them to your business as an artist.

In our conversation, Jeff references 2 specific examples of artists who have had their careers transformed by sharing their work, and work in progress, either on Flickr or Instagram.

Sell something for the first time

If you’ve never charged for your work, then start now. Put something out there to your audience, offering to make something, and that the price will be X.

It doesn’t matter how much you charge. The important thing is to charge something.

This is the first real step to starting to make a living off of your art. To charge something and to realise that your work has value and that there are people out there who value it.” – Jeff Goins




Alix Sloan

Set ‘Office Hours’ – Dedicate a percentage of your studio or making time towards your broader goals; be they financial, network, gallery-oriented, fame or otherwise. Alix calls these ‘office hours.’

Determine how much for how long. For example, if you work 20 hours a week, then set aside 5 of those hours to invest in working towards your goals. And commit to doing this for 4-8 weeks.

If you’re uncertain what your goals are, then Alix has created a free “Career Goals Worksheet” to take you through the process.

If you have a lot of work in the studio and low sales, then you need to put more time into ‘office hours’” – Alix Sloan



Pete Mosley

Build Confidence by being a little bit braver every day – Step out of your comfort zone and do something a little uncomfortable. Every day.

Choose something that will give you a little bit of pleasure from having experimented with it. I.e. strike up a conversation with a stranger, or speak with a small group of people. Set yourself a tiny challenge, every day.

“I’m a great believer of building confidence in tiny steps.” – Pete Mosley






Jason Borbet aka Borbay

Make a series with an audience in mind

Devise a body of work and outreach strategy before you actual start creating.

– Choose a subject area (Jason used the example of trout, although this could work with any subject in any medium).

– Determine who might be interested in that subject (ie. trout = fishermen/anglers)

– Research how to reach that specific audience (ie. fishing magazines)

– Make the series, then share the work (and work in progress) with those outlets that cater to your target audience

The aim is to focus your creativity. The constraint of a series can be inspiring and generate new ideas, not limit them.