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How to Organize Your Projects

This is the fifth article in a series on organizing your creative space. Find the first four articles by clicking on links at the bottom of the page.

If you are like most artists you probably have multiple projects going at once. The flea-market find waiting to be altered, the piece with the looming deadline for an art exhibit, and the abandoned canvas in the corner of your studio waiting for inspiration to strike. You might also have ongoing projects like a scrapbook, participate in an on-going art challenge (think Project Life or Paint Party Fridays) and hopefully your art journal.

Many of us also have other creative projects like websites, blogs, or a novel in progress. If you take classes and/or attend art retreats you also have projects and class handouts to organize. The amount of stuff can be overwhelming.

Here are a couple of strategies to keeping your projects organized:

Time management is essential. Once a month set art appointments for the following month. Put the appointments on your calendar just like you would a staff meeting at work. Keep the appointments.

Review your progress at the end of each week and set goals for the next week. Adjust as needed.

Create an inspiration board for your wall where you keep your weekly art goals, supply lists, and deadlines.

Create a bin, file, or box for each current project. Label accordingly. Everything related to the project goes in the box, file, or bin. Reference material, color swatches, articles, and ephemera all go in your project file. If you use a box you can keep the supplies you are using in the box. Keeping everything in one place also helps speed your clean-up at the end of each art session.

Keep your current project files all in the same place in your studio, just like you do your supplies.

Create an electronic file for each project and document with photos and notes on supplies and techniques used.

Take notes for all classes you attend. A year after the class you might not be able to recall exactly how your teacher told you to do something. By taking notes, you can look up the instructions.

Store class hand-outs and class notes in files. Not of fan of files and file cabinets cluttering up your studio space? Store class hand-outs and notes in a three-ring binder instead. Label the notebooks for easy reference.

Keep notes and ideas in your sketchbook or as part of your art journal.

Take notes when you are working on project. Note your process. Did something work really well? What did you struggle with? Going back and reviewing these notes is invaluable. Taking a few minutes to document your work will help you see your progress as an artist and can be a great place to find inspiration when you are stuck.

Take a photo of each finished project. Save the photo digitally on the computer and add your add notes on what products and techniques were used.

Taking photos of work in progress is also a great way to capture your process and document growth.

If you use an online photo sharing program you can add your notes to the caption or comment sections. Facebook allows you to create private photo albums that can only be viewed by "friends" you've selected or you can set it so it can only be viewed by you.

Work as if you are going to be putting together a portfolio, even if that feels like a far away goal. Someday you might need to quickly put together a presentation of your body of work for a juried show, gallery, or collector.

Having a file with photos, notes, and products used will make creating a class, applying for a design team, writing an article for publication, or creating a blog post a snap.

Lastly, when a project is complete, empty the bin, box or file that is in your studio. Type or scan notes and save them electronically. Put everything away. This makes room for your next fantastic project.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Maribeth Lysen. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Maribeth Lysen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.

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