One of the common questions artists ask in the production of their art is whether to make a one-off work or to produce a series type of work. There are actually pros and cons in both the methods and it depends largely on what you are planning to promote. Generally, there is no right or wrong to this but it will surely help the galleries who are selling you and your art if you work in a series instead of one-offs.
The most important point here is to identify what you are trying to convey. If you are planning to convey a message which is strong and one which is contemporary, then working on a series of work might be reasonable. And this is more common if your next show is going to be a solo. Naturally, if your next show is going to be a group exhibition, then a one-off artwork might be ideal.
The problem with making one-off artwork is that it makes your messages harder to understand. The viewer and art appreciator would need to understand what you are trying to convey if they are always random without some sort of storyline or such.
On the other hand, working on a series of artwork will deliver a stronger message and one which the viewer could understand and fathom easier. By creating a more cohesive series of work based on the same theme or philosophy, you will be able to create a persona for yourself. On top of that, it also tells others about the type of person you are and what your trail of thoughts is like.
Creating a series of art work does not mean that you will be working on the same subject matter forever. You can always take a break from the current series and work on others before revisiting it in a later time. If you are working on ‘women in politics’ series and having done that for 3 years, you can take a break and work on the ‘children in education’ series for the next year or so before heading back to ‘women in politics II’ after that. It could adopt a different medium and perhaps a different angle to the message you want to convey. That way, you could well be known as the ‘women in politics’ guy.
This does not mean that working on one-off artwork is all that bad. If that is what you like to do you will need to ensure that you do not fall into the trap of working along a common theme on all your artworks? Like it or not, it might end up becoming a series of one-off artwork from you. One-off artwork is interesting because it shows that you are able to address different types of issue and demonstrating them through your techniques and methods. If you think that you want the freedom to ‘paint whatever you want’ then this could be the right approach for you but it might just mean that you have no direction in your art and efforts.