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Are you a “Real Artist” If You Have A Day Job?

How do you define being a “successful artist”?

Many artists definition of success rest solely on being able to support themselves entirely from their artistic endeavours without having to do any other work to make ends meet.

However, is this a realistic view of success?

The majority of artists will, in reality, have other work too as part of the rich pattern of their everyday life…

This, contrary to what some people say is NO BAD THING!

The truth is, successful artists often have lots of strings to their bow

Just because you have another job doesnt mean you are not a “real ” or successful artist. In fact, working in other areas separate from your art can have distinct advantages…

  • Having a defined and confined time for you creative work can focus your art and make you achieve more in the shorter space of time that you have to work in. Faced with unlimited time it’s easy to take your eye off the ball and lose focus.
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  • Our economy is changing {see my recent post – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised} In this new and shifting economic landscape, having multiple income streams is a very important survival strategy which will enable you to surf the vagueries of the art market.

  • If you are combining raising a family with your art, you may not be able to spend 100% of your time creating but may be able to find a balance which works for you.

  • Your “day job” may provide inspiration which feeds into your art and helps to fire your creativity.

We really need to change and widen the definition of SUCCESS in the art world…

The down side…

As in all things there can be a down side…

The common problem with other strands of work, comes when the “day job” takes over and hurts your creative energy leaving you too tired to do anything else.

Many years ago, when I worked in advertising agencies, my job was pretty creative but I was expected to start at 8am and leave at 8pm or later – After a sweaty commute on a crowded tube I had barely enough energy left to eat, let alone create. Life was pared down to a bleak cycle of getup-commute-work-commute-eat-sleep. In that situation it is really easy to make yourself ill by trying to draw out more energy than is “in the bank”

Like everything, it is important to find the balance between work and art which is sustainable and right for you. This can take a long time to get right.

If you are struggling with this balance at the moment, keep taking small steps to getting yourself into the right situation and position. Don’t give up. Creating may be difficult at the moment but if you keep fighting for it you will get there in the end…

Artists on Twitter say…

I wanted to find out how artists combine the spheres of work and creativity so I threw the question open to my friends on Twitter. The replies that I received were positive proof of the fact that it is possible and also very normal to be a “real artist” and juggle other commitments and income streams too.

Many many thanks to everyone who replied. I hope you find their thoughts enlightening and reassuring.

My question…

Artists. Do you have a “day job” too? Please tell me what u do. Do you love or loathe it? Does it help or hinder yr art? For a post..

And the answers from artists around the world…

 

For 3 days a week I work as a research consultant on education/technology projects – the geekiness offsets/informs my art 🙂

@iamcreative

http://letcreativitybegin.co.uk

 

I’m studying an MA in Art, and find it difficult to find work alongside this. I’m freelancing for a website and doing bar work.

@MelanieK__

 

I have a day job as mgr at an accessories boutique. I love it but it eats up a lot of time. I do all the creative stuff there

Himself & I share studio space in our petite apt. It gets messy….

@mizelissa

http://msalzmanart.wordpress.com/

 

I do, I work in Human Resoures, don’t love it, it helps financially but hinders taking time away from creativity

@pulpsushi
http://www.pulpsushi.com

 

I used to be a software engineer manager. It consumed my life and made me sick after too many long hours. Almost no art made.

@violentbloom

www.trollop.com

 

Programming || depends on the day – a zen-ish like is the average || ++ discipline, supplies$, – steals time to work

@babaheath

http://www.windyhilldesign.org/theheathergarden/

 

Hey. Got a day job. LOATHE it. Totally. Work in accounting. Go figure.

@thefadderly
http://fadderly.blogspot.com/

 

Other job: web designer. Sort of a neutral effect on my art; doesn’t take away creativity, but doesn’t contribute either.

@smlacy

http://smlacyart.com/

 

Hi Helen, working as a pt teaching assistant + artist gives security of regular £s + people to talk to 🙂

@JaneCarlisleArt

http://www.braemoor.co.uk/ajc/

 

My day job is tattooing. It helps. And yes, I love it!

@justteejay
http://www.whitetigertattoo.com

 

Policy Writing pays the bills and buys my art/photography supplies!

@AkrotiriArt

http://www.redbubble.com/people/akrotiri

 

Art is my day job, and I fully expect to be paid accordingly for this. Still waiting for the world to realise this!!!

@Blackbird1976

http://www.helendblackbird.co.uk

 

Web strategy/editing. Like it. Hinders only b/c it takes most of my day. I steal time to write. Early am, train, late night…

@petercrowell

http://www.lifeismaking.com/

 

It helps…. IF I make the choice to let it be a steppingstone rather than a stumbling block.

@zahndrew

www.zahndrew.com

 

My ‘day job’ is tattooing, I love it and I think they help each other.

@BiueStarr

http://www.blue-starr.com

 

I work for the FAA as an electronics technician. I love it but it does hurt my art and energies because it’s often like 2 jobs

@parachutepromis

http://www.parachutepromise.com

 

I’m an art teacher for a secondary school.. I love it. I feel like it encourages my own creativity! I do get tired, though…

@ArtistThink

http://www.artistthink.com

 

I hope you find these artists inspirational. They are absolutely REAL ARTISTS finding their own balance.

Do you work alongside your art? Please share the work you do with us in the comments below…

 

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Not Waving But Drowning : 9 Great tips To Fight Overwhelm And Stop You Going BONKERS

Do you sometimes feel like you are drowning in a humungous wave of information overload?

I write a lot first thing in a morning and a bad morning used to look like this…

Start writing a post. Search for an image for the post. Check email. Check to do list. Realise I haven’t done any of it. Write another to do list Feed the cats to stop them mewing at me so I can concentrate. Update twitter. A bit more writing. Feed the kids so they stop shouting at me. Check Facebook. Check email. Delete junk emails. Reply to emails. Write a bit more. Break up a fight between the kids. Check email. And all this before 7am.

I’m already stressed and the day hasn’t even started! Phew.

With so much multi-tasking and things which we feel we really need to keep on top of it’s no wonder that we can start to feel as though we are drowning in information and communication overload.

However, I have developed some strategies which have helped me keep (a tiny bit) more sane in the face of this onslaught.

Important things I have learnt.

 

I have learnt that…

Multi-tasking just doesn’t work.

It can impact on your creative thought processes and turn your brain into a big wobbly jelly mush. Concentrate on one thing at a time and you will achieve more.

The internet MAY be changing the way we think.

There is a school of thought that the fact that we are constantly plugged into The Matrix MAY be actually rewiring our brains to make us less able to focus. Read more here. It may be wise to just be aware of this and give your brain a little time off for R&R now and again.

So… My brain saving strategies.

 

Have a “Disconnect Day” once a week.

I think this is the most important thing you can do. I try and “step away from the computer” every Sunday. Although I’m not always successful {I fully admit I am an addict}, I find that consciously distancing myself from the web leaves me fresher and more able to enjoy it when I go back.

Don’t check email first thing and set specific times to check.

The random gratification we get from email {ooh, has anyone sent me anything exciting since I last checked 3 minutes ago} actually means that it is mentally addictive.

This is due to what psychologists call ‘operant conditioning’ Read more. Because email is random and we don’t know if any mail will appear when we hit the “get mail” button, we behave like lab rats, frantically clicking in the hope that some juicy morsel in the shape of a video of a kitten in a duck hat doing a dance will be delivered onto our plate.

Speaking as a recovering addict, do one big thing and try and close your email programme. Set yourself specific times to check. I check around 10.30, 1.00 and 4.00. Try and stick to them. This will save you a TON of time and stress. However, as any addict knows it’s extremely easy to fall of the wagon…

Don’t try to read everything

There is so much information flying at us that if we try and process all of it our brains will melt into a pool of quivering jelly. Well maybe that’s a slight over exaggeration but seriously the skill of SELECTION is becoming more and more crucial in the modern world. Ruthlessly weed out those things that are a time waste {marketing emails being the main culprits} and send them straight into the trash folder. Being ruthless gives you more time to spend on the really important things.

Don’t do too many types of social media.

It’s easy to spread yourself too thinly and then beat yourself up about the fact that you havent updated something for a week. Concentrate on maybe a maximum of 3 channels of communication and enjoy them. If you arent enjoying them, STOP.

Mindmap your way to sanity.

As a massive list {and lists of lists} maker I know that keeping your lists organised can actually become a huge task in itself worthy of it’s own list. {warning – this way lies insanity} I have been trying a new method which Cynthia Morris expounded on her blog.

Basically, instead of getting lost in the tiny minutia of the list, look at the bigger picture and mindmap your projects. This method gives you a much greater overview of your commitments and stops you going round in ever decreasing circles until you disappear up your own backside {speaking from experience here}

And some indispensable tools.


Tweetdeck

Update Twitter, Facebook and various other social media sites from one place. Most importantly, see all your Twitter feeds in one interface and be able to schedule tweets into the future. You can spend 20 minutes in the morning preparing Tweets and then leave Tweedeck to sort it all out.

Tadalist & Netvibes

I KNOW I said I was trying to step away from the lists, but these two tools are pretty handy. They enable you to store to-do lists online.

http://tadalist.com/ is a simple list maker.

http://www.netvibes.com allows you to create a wide variety of lists as well as handling various other things including RSS feeds. V handy.

{Just don’t use tadalist to organise your netvibes lists as I was doing at one point!}

Evernote

Evernote is my SAVOUR on the Internet. It’s a tagable and sortable repository of all the bits and bobs you find on the Internet and need to keep a note of. You can clip information directly from a web page and file it in categories and tags. You can even search scanned text! No more piles of printouts cluttering your desk and brain. File it all in Evernote

And finally THE MOST IMPORTANT THING…

 

Take the pressure off yourself…

The main thing that taking a disconnect day every week has taught me is that  THE WORLD WILL NOT END IF YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE INTERNET for a little while.

It’s a relief to discover that when you don’t keep up, when you don’t Tweet or Facebook or email NOTHING BAD HAPPENS. The world will not implode if you take a day off.

It’s actually YOU putting the pressure on yourself.

Relax and give ourself a break. That way, you are much stronger to shrug off overwhelm and enjoy yourself online.

Please share your tips for survival in the comments…

And if you are wondering where the title of this post comes from, here is a video of the wonderful poem of the same name by Stevie Smith.

Photo credit by Akuppa

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