Are you an artist who wants a solo exhibition of your art? Easy enough to say, but how do you actually take steps to make it happen?


Hi my name is Carrie and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you refine your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today we discuss the hows and whys of breaking down larger goals, like a solo exhibition, into achievable tasks.

Goals can feel scary. Tasks are to-dos. What we could make all of our goals to-dos, unassuming and not intimidating to-dos?

For my example I’m going to talk about a solo exhibition. It’s something many artists strive for in the art world, and something I want myself. But, where do we begin?

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, or that a project or goal feels too big, I start a mind-map, like this one.

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Mind-maps really help me organize my thoughts.

Because when I do have an idea or inspiration, they come from all directions without any sense of priority. Creating a mind-map allows me to have a brain dump of all the thoughts running through my mind. And as I map, I begin to organize the information. And I can start to see relationships between my different thoughts and show that on my map.

Since my big focus here is a solo exhibition I wrote it in the middle of my blank paper. Then I let my mind wander. What do I think about when I talk about executing a solo exhibition? I will likely need a proposal to send to a gallery. Oh, and I need to find a gallery who is a good fit for my project. Who is a contact there? What information can I find about applying for an exhibition through them?

It continues. What else do I need for an exhibition? I’ll need to update my artist CV. And of course, I need a body of art to show. What medium will I use? What is the larger message of this series of artworks? What will be my strategy to pitch this work?

As you can see, the map let’s you fall down multiple rabbit holes at the same time, so you don’t lose any of the ideas you have flowing forth.

Another thing happens too. As I list and write out all the facets that relate to having a solo show, my list of tasks emerge. As well as my priorities.

For example, why cold-call or email galleries if you don’t yet have a body of work?! All galleries expect a CV and even better a website. So, there is work to be done.

Each item on your map can also be filled with even smaller tasks. For a website you need to: (1) find a host, (2) choose a theme or design, (3) photograph your art, (4) create an artist biography… the list goes on.

Laying out all of these lists will also help you understand how long you need to give yourself to achieve your goal.

If you have no art, no website, and no CV, it’s going to take a year or more to achieve these things. THEN you still have to make connections and find a place to show your art!

I don’t say this to discourage you, but I want you to remember this is the long game. A goal like my example takes time, commitment, and sustained effort. Be realistic about a timeline to achieve your aims and you are more like to achieve them!

Once I have a master list of to-dos, I can see which items should be a priority and now I can schedule them in my life. Obviously, if there are any notable deadlines related tasks should be done first. Now it’s time for the Ivy-Lee Method.

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The Ivy-Lee Method is the sole reason I’m productive as I am.

It’s super simple and efficient. At the end of the day I look at my calendar and I write down 6-7 tasks to complete tomorrow. When I wake up the next day there is no mulling about wondering what I should work on. I have a numbered list in order of priority.

If I don’t finish all 7 tasks (and this happens a lot for me), when it’s time to make tomorrow’s list, those unfinished tasks make the top of the list. It’s simple, I don’t need special organizers or any other system. I wrote about how the Ivy-Lee Method has changed my life and I’ll link it below this video.

You are capable of achieving anything you hope for in your art.

The bigger question and challenge I have for you is: are you willing to take ACTION to aim for and reach those dreams?

If you want help breaking down your goals into achievable, actionable steps I’m answering all kinds of questions art related every Friday at 12:30 EST for the rest of November on our Facebook page Becoming Artist Strong. If you want feedback on your website or CV I can do that too!

Feel free to ask your question in the comments below and I’ll be sure to answer them in our latest Becoming Artist Strong. There is replay access to the video for those of you who can’t make it live, or catch today’s post at a later date, so go check it out and see what going on with your peers and how you might apply their questions and answers to your own artist life!

Now, it’s time to Be Creatively Courageous: Tell us one of your big goals. Saying it, or in this case typing it, can feel brave enough. So let’s start there. And if you are feeling really ambitious, take a photo of your mind-map and share it with me on social media. I’m @ArtistStrong most places and Becoming Artist Strong on Facebook.

All this month doors are open for my mastermind program called The Circle. If you want or miss the community experience of being part of an artist collaborative group, The Circle is 6 months of community and accountability. We work on building your voice, your portfolio as well as building promotional strategies for your art.

My free challenge in October, called Be Creatively Courageous, offered a small taste of the program. If you enjoyed the accountability and community you experienced from working all month long in the FB group image Be Creatively Courageous magnified.

The Circle includes video workshops on everything from finding your voice, organizing your art in an inventory, to understanding how to write about your art.I also offer monthly Q&As where you get feedback on your work, much like my November free Q&As on the Facebook page, and a whole lot more.

If you want to take advantage of the early bird pricing available this month visit I’ll be sure it’s linked below this video as well. Watching this video after The Circle has closed? Be sure to use that link to sign up for the waiting list, and you’ll be the first notified when it opens again.

Thank you for watching and see you next week!