This is a guest post by Barney Davey
Time and motion studies have been around for decades. They are a staple of productivity gains in the Industrial Age of the 20th Century. The idea is to find the most efficient, effective way to do any job.
Time and motion experts study every step in a given process and look for ways to make that process more efficient. If, for example, an assembly-line worker is using three motions to complete a task that could more efficiently be completed in two, an efficiency expert would help the worker streamline his/her activity to eliminate wasted motion. While the efficiency gain for each action might be small, if that action is repeated hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of times, the cumulative effect of improved efficiency is tremendous.
How do time and motion studies relate to making art?
If you have read “Starving” to Successful, The Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting into Galleries, or taken one of Jason Horejs’ workshops, you know he stresses ramping up your production to make more art. It is a simple equation. In order to sell more art, you have to fill the pipeline and maintain production to support it. Galleries that promote your work expect you to be able to meet the demand they make for it. Your collectors and other distribution sources want to see new work all the time, too.
Total time spent creating a piece of art does not determine its value.
Art is never finished, only abandoned. ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
“How long did it take to paint (or sculpt, or make) that?” is one of the most common questions an artist will hear. Some artists and some collectors mistakenly relate the value of a piece to the time it took to make it. This is just flat out wrong. It totally discounts the years of study, training, experience and expertise that allows a skilled artist to create quickly.
Your work has intrinsic value that you cannot commoditize based on the hours it took you to create it.
You should never be embarrassed if you can make your work quickly and sell it at high prices. Rather than a stigma, it is a blessing. Understandably, you may not advertise the time spent creating the piece, but you shouldn’t undervalue your work because you created high-quality work in an efficient manner either.
I once was on an artist marketing workshop panel with Jack White. He is a successful, well-known master painter, and bestselling author of many excellent how-to art marketing books and novels. As an accomplished artist, he taught his wife, Mikki Senkarik, how to paint. Together, they have sold millions of dollars of originals and fine art prints.
One of the things Jack mentioned to the panel was how he taught Mikki to arrange her colors on her palette so the ones used most often were closer to the canvas. Now that may not seem like much. However, when you consider moving your hand from the palette to canvas potentially thousands of times in the course of making a painting, it will add up to saved time. Imagine how much more time you could save if you stop to think about how your workflow is arranged and how it can be improved.
Small improvements can earn big gains
Years ago, when I sold advertising for Decor magazine, I worked with an advertiser who sold saw blades to picture framers. A big portion of his revenue came from sharpening saw blades. Sharpening a saw blade takes many steps:
- Wash and dry
- Face grind
- Side grind
- Top grind
- Clean, inspect, dip
By bringing in a time and motion expert, this advertiser was able to rearrange his shop and workflow for much greater efficiency. The bottom line was he was able to do the same work with less effort and cut his turnaround time by around 50%. You can imagine how this improvement helped the finances and productivity of his small, entrepreneurial service business.
If you stop to evaluate what steps you take to make your art, you can find ways to make more art with less effort. This will translate to making you more money for the time you spend creating your art.
- Is it time to rearrange your studio to allow you to access your frequently-used tools and to clear your workspace of clutter?
- Can you outsource some of your simpler tasks that are taking up valuable creative time? For example, if you are priming or varnishing your canvases, could you bring in an apprentice or intern to take over?
- Create your own assembly line. Instead of preparing one canvas, painting the painting, varnishing it and then preparing it for framing, consider preparing multiple canvases at once, painting in succession and then framing all at once. Some artists will even paint multiple similar paintings at once, allowing them to mix paint one time and apply it to multiple canvases, creating a huge savings in time. Sculptors, photographers and mixed-media artists can also benefit by grouping like activities together.
Not every artist’s process allows for these kinds of changes, but any artist can find ways to increase efficiency and productivity without decreasing quality.
The work begins with a detailed analysis of what you are doing now, and how effective it is for you. Begin thinking of ways to improve your efficiency.
Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination – Michael Hyatt
One of the ways you get more work in the pipeline is to learn when to let it go, or abandon it as DaVinci says. If perfectionism is causing you to stall in getting more work done, you should investigate if there are underlying issues at hand. You might be afraid of success, or afraid to fail. You might have other issues keeping you from enjoying the success you and your art deserve. Some people call this “head trash.” If you can recognize extreme perfectionism in your artistic practice, you can begin working to overcome it.
Join Me for My Upcoming Online Workshop
This coming Thursday, October 10th, I will be giving a powerful, new workshop, “Guerrilla Marketing for Artists” where I will share with you ways that you can not only improve your efficiency to create new work, but also creative and affordable ways to then get your work out in front of interested buyers. I invite you to learn more about the workshop and join me in this live, online workshop sponsored by Xanadu Gallery.
Learn More and Register by Clicking Here.