Working full time and managing an art career

Does anyone find themselves in this position: making art alone isn't enough to pay the bills, so you have a 9-to-5 job to fill the void. Sound familiar?

It is a great way to keep the mortgage payment wolf away from your door, but there’s always a trade-off: how many times at the end of the day have you found it really hard to find energy and motivation to get into the studio?

This involves a bit of mental gear-shifting to transition from one world to another, and for this I feel fortunate I’m a commuter. Time behind the wheel allows me to shift to art-making mode easier.

In an upcoming article, I will cover the basics of art marketing. In this one, I’ll discuss ways and means of managing your precious time, and how to maximize limited time in the studio.

Suggestion number 1: work small: typically, smaller paintings tend to be something that can be accomplished in one or two studio studio sessions. So to maximize the feeling that you're keeping forward momentum going, do a bunch of small canvases or panels, even several at once. This is a good way to keep inspiration going and to maintain a fresh outlook on art-making.

In my experience, bigger pieces can bog you down especially when you average two hours a night in the studio per weekday. Try and think practically for the amount of time you have and what you'd like to accomplish within that time frame.

Suggestion number 2: schedule your time in the studio on a calendar. This legitimizes time spent there and priorities been prioritizes it as being an important part of your day. Sometimes it's harder to back out of something that you have written down in a day planner that looks official. Think of it like a little written contract with yourself.

Suggestion #3: make a little written contract with yourself, set goals as far as what you think you can realistically accomplish. For example, if you think you can finish one or even two small paintings in a week, then write that down in your calendar as something to reach for. Don't be too hard on yourself. If you can't make that goal, life happens and we've all been there, struggling away with time.

Suggestion number 4: make a prioritized list of art-related tasks you would like to accomplish, outside of art-making. This involves social media marketing, email campaigns, or any other form of marketing you may choose to do to promote your art. Other tasks to consider scheduling are: canvas and panel preparation , completing existing commissions, shipping paintings, or other administrative work. These kind of activities that you practice are good organizational exercises, and as you move into a full-time art practice, you will need to be very organized and very selective with what you devote your time to. I hope that these suggestions are helpful, they are ones I am currently trying to follow, with varying degrees of success. And hey, if all you manage to do today is get into your studio and stare at your canvas for 15 minutes without making a mark on it, that's OK too. The fact that you showed up is the first step accomplished.

May your creative journey be long and winding.

James

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