Embracing the Journey: Refocusing on Process and Systems in the Art World

Some of my friends – “regulars” – out enjoying some early-morning sunshine

As a passionate runner, I find myself outdoors, navigating the trails of Phoenix 3-4 times a week, covering 3-5 miles each time. There’s something invigorating about the fresh air and the rhythm of my heart pounding in sync with each stride. I relish these moments, not just for the exercise but for the camaraderie shared with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Every year, as the New Year rings in, I witness a familiar scene during my runs – an influx of new faces, all fueled by their resolve to get fit. It’s a January phenomenon, where the mild Phoenix winter welcomes these bursts of newfound enthusiasm. However, as the weeks pass, the crowd dwindles, and the regulars, my familiar companions, remain. This annual cycle has led me to a realization about goal setting and achievement, particularly in the art world. It’s not just in fitness but in many aspects of life, including art, where the focus on immediate results often overshadows the commitment to consistent strategies and processes

As we welcome the New Year, a time traditionally for setting goals and aspirations, I find myself pondering a different approach that could be transformative for artists. As an art gallery owner, I’ve observed the intense focus artists often place on specific achievements – be it a successful exhibition, a certain number of sales, or gaining gallery representation. However, this year, I propose a shift in perspective: emphasizing the importance of the process and systems set up to achieve these goals, rather than the outcomes themselves.

The Importance of Process in Artistic Growth

In the art world, it’s easy to get caught up in the end results. However, the true essence of growth, both as an artist and a professional, lies in the process – the daily routines, the methods of exploration in one’s art, and the strategies employed in marketing and outreach. It’s these systems and processes that build the foundation for sustainable success.

Setting Up Systems for Success

This New Year, I encourage artists to focus on establishing and refining their systems. This might mean developing a more structured studio practice, creating a consistent routine for updating an online portfolio, or setting up a regular schedule for social media engagement. The key is to create processes that support your artistic and professional growth.

The Art of Marketing and Promotion

In the context of marketing and promotion, it’s not just about the number of exhibitions you participate in or the galleries you approach, but about the strategies and systems you develop to present your work effectively. How you research potential galleries, network, and build relationships are all part of a larger system that contributes to your overall artistic journey.

A Call to Reflect on Your Artistic Systems

As we step into this New Year, I invite artists to reflect on the systems and processes that underpin their artistic endeavors. How have these systems supported your growth and what changes could further enhance your creative and professional journey?

I am eager to hear your experiences. How have you developed and refined your processes in art creation and promotion? What impact has this focus on systems rather than outcomes had on your work and career? Share your stories and insights. Let’s inspire each other to value and refine the journey, not just the destination.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. One of the most effective means I find to get people to engage with my art is posting daily or weekly shots of the progress on a piece of art. The other is story. Why this subject? Thoughts behind the exploration of an idea or series of ideas.

  2. Jason
    This is just right for the new year. I let myself get off the track last year, but have already begun to “right the train,” and your words told me I’m headed back in the direction I wanted to go. And did successfully for the past 6 years (excepting the last several months). I’ve begun by clearing and reorganizing my little studio and it feels like a homecoming. Thank you and happy new year!

  3. It is interesting you should post this, because a week ago I resolved to change my working habits based on process rather than outcome. Previously, I would work in my studio six or seven days a week in the wintertime, but often the marketing and administrative to-do list (which is all work I enjoy) would take over and fill up entire days. Sometimes a busy week would go by with no art creation happening. Since my three commercial galleries continue to take as much work as I can produce, I felt I was doing too much busy-work and not focusing on the most important part of my art practice, even though my goal was to paint four paintings a month.
    So I decided on a simple strategy from now on: paint every week day, even if I can only fit in an hour on a busy day. Once I start painting, the creative momentum takes over, and I often paint more than I planned. The administrative and marketing tasks fill in the rest of my days. Often I work an evening or a weekend day writing my blog posts, making short videos, and doing administrative work. I feel much happier now and hope to produce lots of great new paintings by the spring.
    I also continue to post on Facebook every week day morning (work in progress, paintings in situ, links to painting and travel stories on my blog, finished works, etc.) and that has been a very successful strategy for me to help sell my art. A few times a week I also post on Instagram but have never sold any art through that platform, even though the numbers of followers is similar to FB.
    I have been emailing a monthly newsletter to my subscribers for decades and that has proved very worthwhile for keeping in touch with fans and collectors and generating sales.
    I use Todoist.com, ever since you suggested it to us in the ABA course, to keep track of recurring and new tasks and this has been a game changer for me to schedule and prioritize my workload.

  4. I totally agree with you, Jason. Putting great systems in place helps tremendously, and then having the discipline to actually use them! I’ve put a couple of systems in place that work for me. One is a tracking inventory and storage system. And the other is the creation of a checklist of things to do after I finish a painting. These two systems feed a lot of other things in the art “machine.” When I discipline myself to keep at least these two systems running as they should, they feed a lot of other items like creating the product on my website, posting to social media, and creating a newsletter. My area of growth is having the discipline to keep up with my systems so they can work for me. And having the discipline to have a consistent studio practice. Thanks for this post. It will help me get back on track and stay there.

  5. This was a great post for me. I definitely need to put a system in place to post my paintings on social media. I have done this with my jewelry for the past couple of years but neglect it with my art. This article reminds me of how important a system is.

  6. Great Subject. We moved 2 years ago (where does time go?) I have been getting re established into a whole new community of artists, art events / shows and organizations.

    As things are settling out routines are becoming familiar again. The studio time and painting is/are one of my big areas of need. Moving, remodeling ect. I have been settling into the 2 other bedrooms in the house; the what would be the kids room has become my office and painting area. The larger 2nd room has evolved into gallery type space. It is receiving a Murphy bed Monday morning to “allow” for guests. At the same time – Monday they are to get measurements to enclose the north patio that is just off that room with the goal of painting in north light. More rearranging ahead.

    Re assessment of email platforms led me to Substack.com. You must own your email list, not have it as part of social media followers which could be gone with the flip of a switch. I LOVE this platform; while it began as a writers blog – it has evolved into much much more. Since I have published 2 books that contain my artwork, I am hoping they can “swim with the bigger fish” in the world of books. Owning my email lists are a must. I am hoping for a lot of growth in this area in the months and years ahead. Also, it is free for both user and writer (unlike other email services) and offering ways to monitize it with giving people something of value for subscribing. It is an interesting platform and contains subjects from every realm; news, travel, culture and way more. Check it out.

    I am moving from Weebly.com to Shopify. I am hoping to be able to drive print sales via print on demand in the year to come. It seems to me that Shopify is built for e-commerce. Yes, you must do the work – keep it updated ect. But they are built for this. It will also be used for sales of my original pieces as well.

    Much on the horizon! I wish all of you much success in the year to come!

    Debra Vance, Artist

  7. Yes this is a reminder to me that my focus right now needs to be on taking the time to set up and put in place processes and systems as I just moved from suburban New Jersey to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I can start completely new here. Thank you

  8. This is a great post. I am still establishing myself as an artist and still have a full time job outside of art, so weekends are key and time is very precious. Last year at the beginning of the year I wrote out an action plan and a list of goals. This year I am building on what I accomplished last year which will include more systems and a more strategic approach to event participation so that I have more time to create but still build my sales and broaden my audience.

    Your posts are very helpful.


  9. I’ve had systems in place since my beginnings as a professional artist and most years it gets modified to some degree. My 2024 version:

    Start of the new year – replenish backup and gallery inventory, fit in small commissions and special orders, take orders for larger commissions.

    2 – do larger commissions I got orders for

    3 – replenish whatever backup and gallery inventory needed

    4 – do commissions

    5 – experiment with prototypes for possible new products, try a few out at my best selling gallery.

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