How to Create a Series of Artwork

If you've been reading my blog for a long time, then you know I'm all for including experimentation in my artistic practice. It's crucial to keeping my work fresh and identifying new threads to follow for future projects. But what if I want to make a series of art? Is it possible to be experimental as an artist and make a series? Despite the apparent contradiction, the answer is yes! It just takes some planning. If you're considering tackling a series, then this post is for you. I've broken this down into six steps that you can use time and time again. Let's begin!


Experiment

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The first big step to making a series of work coincidentally begins with experimentation. Think of experimentation sort of like dating. Generally, dating is viewed as a way to get to know people and see if you're compatible before committing to a long-term relationship. The same goes for the work you make. You absolutely should take time to try out different mediums, styles, and genres before starting a series. Only after looking around will you be able to determine what type of art lights you up. And, believe it or not, the work you make might be completely different from the work that inspires you. For more on that, you can check out this post. But my biggest tip for today's post is to let yourself experiment before committing to an entire series of pieces. It will be crucial for maintaining your motivation throughout the project.


Focus In

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Once you've spent time playing around and trying new things, it's time to pick a focus. When I move on to this step, I like to pull out all of the work I've made during my experimentation phase and look at it as a whole. This lets me find patterns and trends that are already emerging in my work. It also lets me think back to how I felt while making each piece. After all, if I'm going to spend weeks or months on one topic, I want it to be on something fun and energizing! So pull out your experimental pieces, have a cup of tea, and reflect on each piece. During your reflection, you can decide to return to the previous step and experiment some more or move forward with what you've got. Both options are totally fine. It's up to you to decide when you're ready.


Make a Plan

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If my biggest tip here is to experiment, my next biggest tip is to make a plan. I'm a Type A person. I love making plans and getting organized, but I know that's not everyone's idea of fun. And that's okay! You don't have to love planning to plan effectively. At this point, I like to determine two things: how many pieces I'll be making and when they need to be finished. With those two pieces of information, I'm able to create a work plan and move forward.


For example, let's say I have to make 8 pieces six months from today. If I know I need one month for photography and editing and another for thumbnailing, that brings me down to 4 months. That means I need to create at least 2 pieces per month. While these are all even numbers that I'm working with, this formula can easily be modified to fit your needs. So sit down and decide on some real numbers and come up with your plan of attack. This will keep you on track as the months come and go, ensuring you meet all of your deadlines. And, yes, you can have real deadlines even if you set them for yourself.


Make Work

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Now it's time for the fun part: make the work. This is my favorite part of this process, and I truly relish when I actually get to paint. But, as easy as it sounds, making the work can be hard. It's easy to get distracted or frustrated and walk away. To combat this, I highly recommend blocking off time in your schedule to work. Turn off your phone, put on a podcast (this is what I listen to), and spend a couple of focused hours in your studio. Your artwork is just as important as everything else you've got going on, so don't continuously move it to the back burner. However, if you find yourself procrastinating at this stage no matter what you do, check out my post on overcoming procrastination. Otherwise, refer to the schedule you just made and let yourself have fun.


Pro tip: make more pieces than you actually need. This allows you to pick the best of the best without the pressure for every piece to be perfect. For my Prism series, I made over 20 paintings but only kept 12 in the collection. It made the process much more enjoyable, and I got to choose which pieces I felt were worth sharing.


Distillation

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After you've met your quota, it's time to distill your work down to it's absolute best. And this shouldn't be a shameful experience! Everyone has good and bad days, and that extends to the art we make. Full disclosure: there are pieces I've made that went straight in the trash and others that needed further refinement before I was willing to share them. And both options are okay. The point of this step is to look at all of the work you made and decide which pieces best represent and fit your goals for this series. Again, I like to lay all of my work out in front of me and look at the pieces as a whole. This helps me see what pieces might not fit in with the rest or which ones need just a little more attention. You might even find some pieces that are the start of a new series! Just make sure that whatever remains works as a cohesive idea or theme.


Presentation

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The final step is to share your work with the world! This might be on social media, your website, an exhibition, an art fair, or a combination of these. Whatever it is, make sure you present with pride. It takes an incredible amount of dedication and focus to create a series of artwork. The sprint-focused world we live in loves trends, which is very different from the marathon mindset you need to make a series. So don't shy away from promoting and talking about your work. It deserves attention and recognition!


And after you've finished, check out my post on what to do after releasing a new collection here.

 

And that's it! I've used this process several times now, and it hasn't failed me yet. A series can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to feel scary throughout the whole process. By breaking it down into a few easy steps, you'll be showcasing your next series in no time!


*Quick note: I'm moving states in the month of April, so I won't be writing any blog posts next month. To stay up to date with what's going on with me, sign up for my Newsletter with the form at the bottom of this page. I'm going to send out a couple of moving updates this month, too. So until May, stay safe and be kind!


Thanks for reading and happy creating!