Developing Your Art: Finding Time for Everything!
The vast majority of artists are "part timers."
I put "part timers" in quotes to indicate that it doesn't necessarily suggests that artists aren't applying themselves to their art, or taking it seriously... but that we tend to have "day jobs" in order to pay for our lives because very few can actually making a "survival wage" (or equivalent) from their art.
Making an actual living from art might be our dream, but it tends to be an elusive one: In the course of my 40-odd years of working and also being in the art business as a art gallery owner, my estimate would be that just somewhere between 3-5% of all artists do not need to have a "regular" job aside from working on their art.
A large and quite complex design... this took about a full day to finish...
A Question of Time... and Money
Unless you happen to be independently wealthy — or retired, with a good pension — odds are you can't just drop everything one day and declare "From now on, I'm an artist!" and somehow make it through the several years it typically takes to create and bring your work before enough people that you actually are able to eat and pay your bills.
Of course, some artists are fortunate to have supportive spouses/partners with good jobs, and they make a joint decision for the artistic person to "have a go" at pursuing their dreams.
Now I'll be the first to admit that for many artists it's not "about the money," it's about the drive and desire to create. But that doesn't preclude the fact that most of us like to occasionally eat and sleep somewhere other than a deserted squat. Besides, we typically have to buy art supplies.
So even when we claim to not care about the money, the pesky reality remains that we still have to somehow interface with the financial aspect of our lives.
Detail of a couple of smaller stones...
"Finding" Time vs. "Making" Time
One of the laments I often have had, and that I often hear from others in creative fields is that they just "can't find the time" to work on their art.
I know I spend about 40-45 hours on "going to work" every week, and then I spend about another 20-25 hours a week running a couple of eBay based businesses and doing free-lance editing and proofreading jobs, because a full-time retail sales job doesn't actually support our life.
Which brings up something quite a few artists and creatives face: "at the end of the day, I'm just too EXHAUSTED to do anything creative, so I zone out on the Internet or in front of the TV, instead."
And that's where — a few years ago — I came to the realization that I can't "find" time for art anywhere, so I have to *"make" time for it!
A matched set of Chakra Stones
"Making Time" isn't Supernatural Magic!
Now "making time" isn't some strange woo-woo and New Agey concept, it's simply a matter of arranging your day and setting priorities. Specifically, if you are claiming you "want to" be an artist, then BE an artist!
Sometimes the simple designs are the most beautiful... here only green and white
In other words, realize and accept that you may "have to" do other things, but you can still make art Number One in your world.
For me, it started with a little self-analysis and self-awareness, and recognizing that I am at my "sharpest" and most creative in the morning, before the "weight" of the day's events have infiltrated my brain.
So — about seven years ago — a developed a habit of getting up around 6:30 (especially in the summer when the days are long!), grabbing some coffee and spending the first couple of hours or three of each morning on creativity. Thankfully, I now work "outside" from 11:00am to 6:00pm, so I can do that. Then I work on the "eBay stuff" at night, when my brain is tired, because it's actually pretty mindless and not very creative.
I don't actually "have" any more time than I ever did, but I am giving the creative process the best of myself, rather than the most tired of myself at the end of a long day.
Is it "perfect?" Absolutely not! But it has helped my go from being a somewhat tired dabbler back in 2007, to changing how I approached my day in about 2013, to now having 5+ years of building my creative endeavors to where they are much more established, and occasionally I even have a few $1200-$1500 months, in terms of art sales... and that was never the case, before.
Patience, Patience, Patience....
Art and creativity — like pretty much anything — requires a lot of time, effort and patience to develop fully.
A large design in the colors of the Heart Chakra, made as a gift for HH The Dalai Lama
Experience tells me that most would-be artists abandon their dreams not as a result of discovering that they don't have talent, or they don't like what they are doing, or others don't like their work... they abandon those dreams because "it's not happening fast enough."
I guess I have applied a rather "left brain" to a very "right brain" activity, in the sense that I approached being an artist much the same way one would approach becoming an expert at anything, in any field: Many experts agree that it takes about five years, full time or 10,000 hours to become "expert" at something. That translates into five years when you're doing something full-time; more like 10-15 years when it's only part time.
Now, I'm not applying this to creative talent, which tends to be rather intangible... I'm applying these principles to the entire process of getting from simply deciding that you want to turn your art "into something" to becoming an established artist with a fighting chance of actually making a living from your art.
I'm personally about seven years into the process, and figure I probably have another five years to go before I will gradually start dropping other projects in favor of artistic time.
Of course, your process will be entirely your own... this post merely lays out one possible path to take.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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