Make the Art You Always Wanted

Sergio Photo in studio

It is the first day of 2014 but I do not like to make New Years’s resolutions. Yet, while my wife is helping my eight year old daughter clean her room and make it look the way she always wanted it, I started thinking about the new year.  I hate quick resolutions because they do not have a long term effect for me.  They may work for some people but not me.  Instead, I am a long term planner.  This is how it works for me: Dream it, Plan it, Execute it, Evaluate it, End it or Repeat it differently.

Dream it

What is that one artwork, project, organization, technique, idea you always wanted to do? Dream it first. Imagine what it would be like or what it would do. Imagine how cool it would be if you could make it or start that one idea.  Since I started college, I wanted to start a fine art gallery. When I was a Junior in college I actually had a dream about it in my sleep. I wrote about it in a journal.  I day-dreamed what it would be like for me to have one.   Dreaming is free!

Plan it

Without planing, things fall flat. A good dream/idea might take off quickly but sooner or later it will face challenges. You cannot plan for every situation just as you have to be willing to adjust your plan on the go. However, if you want to make the art you always wanted, plan how you are going to do it.  What do you need to do to get started and what do you need to complete it (funding, space, materials, people, energy, time, etc)?  In order for me to start a gallery, I knew I could not do it by myself, so I called three friends, shared the dream and we started planning.

Execute it

Unfortunately, you can plan all your life and never execute anything. That is the reality for many creative people. They wait and wait and wait and a wait for the perfect conditions.  In my experience, there are never perfect conditions. You have to do with what you have. Starting something new is a leap of faith. As artists we know this from the heart because we know that at the end of the line there is an unknown result.  Once you have done something many times, there is comfort. However when you are shifting in new directions, there is always doubt.  But doubt is good. It keeps us on the edge. In my opinion, the worst enemy of creativity is familiarity. If you have a dream and a plan, execute it!!

Evaluate it

Yea, not everything happens the way you dreamed it or you planned it. There are set backs in life of many sorts. When you do something, step back and think about what just happened.  Every year, I look back at the gallery and think about what has been accomplished and what has been left undone.  Did we grow, shrink or stay the same?  Evaluate with the correct set of tools.  It is about your goals and not what others expected. If everything is evaluated by how much money it made, many great things would never be classified as successful.  What makes sense for me, does not always make sense for others.

End it or Repeat it differently

I love this one. Nothing we create lasts forever. Even the best idea over a long period of time, gets old. I love to see artists who challenge themselves with new ways of doing the thing they know well.  It is not too difficult to master something. The hard thing is to un-master yourself to see other possibilities.  When you understand something well, you just keep doing it over and over on the safe side.  Ten years ago, I started the National Self Portrait Exhibition. I will end it this year with a 10th Annual celebration.  Even though it is one of our most popular and most attended exhibitions, I always saw it as a ten year project. It ends this year at its best moment. Some good things have to end in order for me to see new ideas. My gallery has changed so many times and in so many ways.  What started as 33 Collective Gallery evolved into 33 Contemporary Gallery with a whole new way of doing things. 33 Contemporary Gallery is as much about artist relationships as it is about art objects. That is one core value that has never changed. Everything else is up for grabs.

So there you have it. Just a thought for the new year. This may be good for some people and irrelevant to others. Whatever you have been dreaming about in your art career, maybe it’s time to get it going.  Move it forward.  The truth is that if you are not happy with the results of what you have been doing, do not expect better results doing the same thing. Also, if you are very happy with the results you had, think again before you keep on doing the same old thing.

Happy New Year and Make the Art You Always Wanted.



  1. Love it. Perfect to kick-off the new year. I have been talking to people about “visualization” and how that made a difference for me last year. This was an excellent piece that touched upon that and classic project management etc.

    Happy 2014, Sergio. To you and your family, only the best!

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