Herding Fish

coaching for artists and makers

How coaching supports artists

29 September 2022

Coaching is a process that supports artists who want to focus on exploring and developing their work with intention. As a coach, I help individuals get really clear about the work they make and why they do it. Life is full of urgent things that endlessly demand your attention. Getting clear about your priorities will stop you from geting pulled all over the place and make time for the work that matters.

I’m delighted to see coaching becoming more present in the arts. Many artist support programmes now include or encourage an element of one-to-one support. This is often labelled as coaching and/or mentoring, without clearly defining which. A coach works with their clients by helping them identify and achieve their own personal goals. A mentor has specific expertise relevant to their clients’ needs and supports them by giving access to that experience.

Coaching supports artists by providing a focused thinking space to explore creative ideas and personal motivations. A coaching session could be used to devise a project plan or map out structures. Artists often resist ambitions and goals, but these are central to coaching. In this context a goal can be anything that stops you going round in circles and sets you up to complete something. You start by declaring what you want to get done – then work back and figure out how to get there.

My work as a coach is person-centred. Who and how my clients are as individuals is central to how they are as artists. Their available energy and focus set the tone for whatever season of practice they are in. I provide a space for self-observation, curiosity and focus. From there clients untangle themselves and connect with the possibilities of their work. Together we set goals, and a block of sessions creates accountability.

Introductory Calls

Coaching usually starts with a short Introductory Call (or Chemistry Call). I offer free 30-minute slots for this as way for both of us to find out if the artist’s expectations match what I offer. In that call, I ask about the main reason for wanting coaching at this point, and what the artist hopes to get from the process.  All coaches offer these calls and it’s worth speaking to a few people to get a taste for variations in approach so you feel confident in whoever you chose to work with.