I’m not a goal guru, so I hope I don’t start sounding like one, but I do believe that once an artist knows their core values, their focus sharpens. From there, they can do almost anything.
As I’ve said before, defining what it is you really want is half the battle. It might sound odd, but many artists don’t know what they want or only know in a very general sense. True clarity will put you on a mission, like a religious freak, where your art is your god, which, in my opinion, should be.
So, why write a mission statement, and why write two? Nobody told me or taught me any of this. It’s just something I’ve done, and I’m only passing it along to you. Take it or leave it, as it might be overkill. But it’s helped me. It might help you, as it only seems the logical step to take for anyone before making a plan, business or otherwise.
No one needs to see your mission statement(s). They are for you. One is more of a personal one to yourself, and the other is for you as a business. They can be separate, and they might meld into one, but try writing the first one for and to yourself. Then, write another one for your business as an artist. Personally, I think it’s good to do these as separate exercises because they might turn out differently!
A well-crafted mission statement serves as a framework or a launching point to build from and guide you forward. It can focus your energy and attention and spark new ideas. It’s a kind of foundation for your identity or the way you’d like to portray yourself as an artist. Companies call this a brand, but I think it should be applied to your authentic self. Brands are for coffee drinks and vacuum cleaners.
I’m no authority on writing mission statements. You can Google yourself silly on how to write a good one and get many examples and lots of advice. The gist? I see about four key elements to it. Other sources might give you five or six, even nine or ten. I’ve squished them down to this: Purpose (The What), Core Values (The How), Audience (The Who), and Specificity/Distinction (what makes your art different or unique or sets it apart from others).
Yes, it’s all shit you have to think about carefully.
Here’s a quick example (this is an overlap of a personal one and a business one):
Purpose: Create art.
Core Values: Authenticity, Originality, Candid expression.
Audience: Me/my satisfaction, and people who enjoy and connect to my voice.
Distinction: Well-crafted, honestly naive, and singular with a whimsical twist.
You can word something like the above into a short paragraph, and viola! You’ll have yourself a mission statement. Or, you can choose not to write it out. That’s up to you. I suggest that artists practice their writing skills as much as possible, especially when writing about their work. Honestly, you’ll really need this skill whether you like it or not. So, you might as well craft together the mission statement for practice. Here’s a quickie for an example:
Through my authentic self, my purpose is to create well-crafted original art that fuels my soul and for those who enjoy and connect with whimsical, candid themes in an abstract, expressionist, naive style.
It’s important to practice being clear and concise. You’ll be asked about a million times to submit Artist’s Statements in under 300 words, 150 words, 500 words, etc. You’ll have to have a bunch of different versions, altering them for many different scenarios. But the above is just an example of a short mission statement—not an Artist’s statement. We’re saving that exercise for another time.
Next up, we’re going to start thinking about our goals. Sound scary? It should. Goals are often wrapped up in fear. (See how fun this is getting?)