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10 Ways for Artists to Use Mind Mapping

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 3/24/2011 10:08:10 AM

This article  is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream".  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


Mind Mapping is a great tool for brain storming and enhancing your thought process and focus.  Mind mapping, as a modern tool, is thought to be created by British psychology author Tony Buzan. The definition of Mind Map, as stated in Wikipedia, is:


A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.



Starting with a central idea that you would like to map, you add main related ideas all around it, connected with lines and keywords. Then you continue that way for each of the sub-ideas. What you end up getting is an explosion of the main idea in the middle of the map.


Our brains are built in a three-dimensional structure of billions of cells connected to each other by electric signals. Such a complex structure is definitely not working in a linear way, and forcing it into working in such way is one of the basic mistakes many of us are doing, for example, when trying to list our thoughts in linear outlines. Instead, the Mind Mapping technique is an excellent way to overcome this unnatural enforcement of brain activity - When you work on your mind map, you don’t have to put everything in an order. Whatever comes into your head, you write it in the appropriate place on the map, seeing the entire picture in one glance.


Mind mapping is used in many places – starting from business applications, like planning a new product, arranging meetings, brain-storming a document or a book, or preparing for the corporate annual picnic, and continues with personal maps, such as planning a wedding, a trip or even planning your entire life goals and future.


So why not use it to help you be a better artist? And we, as artists, with our visual way of thinking and putting our ideas down visually, have even a better chance to utilize this tool successfully. So here is a list of 10 ways you, as an artist, can use mind mapping (not in any specific order):


1.      Find your niche – for those who wonder how to find your niche, this is one way you can do it. In the heart of the mind map write “my art theme”. Start to expand on that. When you are done with your map, you should see where your focus is mainly at. If you don’t see such a focus popping out immediately, it’s a sign that you might not have one area you can call “your niche” and need to focus more on an area you like.

2.      Develop your niche – once you found your niche, you want to explore ways to develop it. In the middle of your mind map write “My Niche is ____”. Then explode your map with everything related to that niche. That can include the items you have worked on and planning to work on in the future, networks you belong to that relate to that niche, people of influence you know, online blogs and forums that relates to the niche, etc. Make sure to point out where you already tried your hand, and where there is more place for new opportunity. When you finish this map, you probably will have some good ideas on how to develop your niche farther. Don’t stop here. Continue mapping as you go, renewing the map every once in a while. You will see how you did and what is new and more to come.

3.      Plan your art festival season – there are so many things to do in order to be ready for the season. Plan ahead by mapping it all. The shows you want to apply to, deadlines, requirements, where are they and the crowd they attract. Then map what you need for each of the shows. Your setup, tent, hanging system. How much artwork you need to have and pricing it. How you will pack it and get it to and from the show. Marketing material and selling procedures. Even the food and sunscreen you will need. The more you map, the more prepared you will be!


4.      Come up with ideas for your next art series/show – it might be the wrong way for many artists, but it might fit some of you. You want to come up with idea for your next art show or next series of paintings. Why not use mind mapping to brain-storm and come up with ideas? If you love painting flowers, maybe expand on that. Which type of flowers? Season the flowers are grown? Medium you might want to try or new size of canvas…


5.      Write your business plan – plenty has been written about business plans and how important they are for every type of business. This can be your opportunity to develop your plan in a way that is better for your right-side/left-side brain usage.


6.      Come up with ideas for your art blog – when starting a blog, you always think “what should I write about?”. Whether you've just started or need a jump-start for your blogging, why not mind map some ideas? Each branch of the map can be an idea for a whole new post or series of posts.

7.      Find your sources of income – similar to the niche finding and developing, you can list all the areas that brought you, or might bring you in the future, some income. I created my own “My Art Income Mind Map” recently and published it in my blog. What I realized from this mind map was that although I would love to focus on just painting and selling my art, I am actually enjoying doing other things that are art related. Also, that there are areas I developed but haven’t yet launched too forcefully, therefore the level of income in the future could be much better than what I have done so far.


8.      Plan your monthwriting coach Cynthia Morris wrote recently how she mind maps her plate at the beginning of each month. This way she knows how many projects she already planned for any given month and whether she has more time on her hand to accept new projects or not. There is no reason this cannot apply to any of us as artists. We know how productive we are, how fast we can produce our artwork, and usually we should know whether we have a special project in a specific month, such as an art festival, a class we teach, or a planned update of our website.

9.      Find where you need help in your business and what you can do on your own – We can easily mind map the things we just hate doing (like accounting for me…) and those we love, or don’t mind at all doing. Then, for all of those we hate, we can visually see who is available to help us do them. After all, we cannot forget about these tasks just because we don’t like them. They have to be done.


10.  Map your website and web presence – Getting confused with all the options, websites, social media mega-sites, and just everything related to that? Why not mind map it to death? Or I should say, mind map it to life? That will give you some encouragement that you do have a grasp over things, even if they are overwhelming sometimes…


And one extra idea – make your mind map a work of art! You have to check out Mind Map Art ( This website is “Showcasing the World’s Finest Mind Maps & Mind Map Artists”, created by Mind Map Artists Paul Foreman and Adam Sicinski. AMAZING! I am sure if you create a beautiful artistic mind map, they will love to see it.


These are just few ideas. There could be thousands of other ways to use mind mapping in your business as an artist. Have you used mind mapping before? Can you give us more ideas on how to use it?






PS there are many tools to create Mind Maps. The basic tool you need is a big sheet of paper and a pen or a pencil. If you want to be a bit fancier, or would like to share your Mind Maps online, you can use one of many software packages out there. One free software is FreeMind. It is an Open Source application, and is developed by a group of developers around the world. Another interesting one is mindmiester. It has a collaboration feature, which is very useful for teams. The free subscription is limited to 3 mind maps though.




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Loading comments...

Jo Allebach
Wow! What a concept. Those mind maps are amazing. I usually carry 3 x 5 cards with me to write down ideas that come in my head and this could give me a way to expand on those ideas in a productive way.
As always your post is superb. Thanks

mimi torchia boothby watercolors
Moshe, you're a riot! Leave it to you to talk about Mind maps and then find Mind Map art. The arty Mind Maps were really cool, by the way. Thanks for your continuing contributions to this forum.

Bonnie Samuel
This is terrific, Moshe! I work best with visuals and my Capricorn side has to have a plan, so this combination is ideal. I will put it to work right away. Thanks.

Marian Fortunati
Interesting way of seeing things, Moshe... We used to use mind maps to help children develop ideas for creative writing. hmmmmm

Virginia Giordano
I've never heard of mind maps so this is my intro. I'll be aware of this technique now. I suspect my artist's mind already moves in these directions at times. I just haven't been aware of it.

Carol McIntyre
I have only used mind maps for writing projects and now I best give them a try in other areas of my life. Everyone MUST go the MindMapArt site and you will be inspired, though I doubt I would ever create such wonderful artsy mind maps.

Could on mind map for a painting?

Thank you Moshe - marvelous info.

Bettye Rivers
Moshe's article, "10 Ways for Artists to Use Mind Mapping", is ingenous. It really simplifies the entire matter of getting organized. One can do this and never loose train of thought. I can't wait to check out the MindMapArt site and to put this into practice. Maybe I can even get organized using this method. Thank you Moshe Mikanovsky.

Barb Stachow
When I read this the first thing I thought of was using mind mapping to organize thoughts as artist we use alot of such as our "pictionary" you know, all those little pictures that we use to represent subject matters in our paintings, now I see it could also be an organizational map to keep us on track and use our time effectively. But I still like my first idea!

Donna Robillard
This is a great way to keep everything organized where you don't feel like you are going in a thousand different directions.

Moshe Mikanovsky
There are really so many ways you can use mind mapping. I just brough 10 ideas, but I am sure each one of us can come up with 10 and more different ideas. If we all sat down and created a mind map of our ideas for how to use a mind map, I am sure it would have been HUGE!


Jason Mehl
Thanks for the mind mapping link.

Phyllis O'Shields
love mind maps !! this is the best site I have ever seen, taking me a while to go through it... Phyllis O'Shields


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