Goal setting in art

From my first professional exhibition as a naïve 19-year-old, believing that I would sell a dozen works at my debut show; I started to set myself goals to achieve by certain milestones in my life in order to achieve my ambitions of becoming a fulltime artist.

I’m grateful that the three targets I had aimed to achieve by the age of 25 came to fruition in 2019; to be an artist in residence overseas, win a best in show award and to exhibit at The Mall Galleries.

In the summer of last year, I was one the three ‘Space and Time Artists in Residence’ at Guttenberg Arts in New Jersey, USA. 15 weeks in the US with 24/7 access to a studio space enabled me to make the most ambitious works of my career to date. I worked tirelessly during this time and relished the opportunity to make hyper detailed socio-politically relevant portraits that I had planned for years.

As a young boy visiting the Mall Galleries on school trips and frequenting exhibitions there since; I dreamed of my own artwork being on those prestigious walls someday (as cliché as that may sound).

Over the course of 2 years I applied for 7 open calls to exhibit my artwork at The Mall Galleries, each application was unsuccessful and I only made it past the first round of selection on 2 occasions. However, in October 2019 I was selected as a finalist of The Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary 2019, which would be on display at The Mall Galleries the following month. Although I did not win the bursary, I was a runner up and sold one of my 6 works on show, Newham General, before the exhibition had even opened to the public.

In December 2019, I was notified that my artwork, ‘Can I Touch Your Hair’ had been chosen as the ‘Best in Show’ from over 16,000 entries for The Embracing Our Differences Exhibition 2020 in Sarasota, Florida. I am fortunate enough to have won two other awards up until this point but they were in categories for students and under 30’s. My work being selected for a prize being held by an organisation whose core ethos of inclusion resonates so deeply with me felt almost like the vindication I had been searching for.

Although I believe that it is important to set clear micro goals which contribute to achieving long term macro goals; it is equally imperative not to place too much credence in validation from others,