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  • Writer's picturesarahhawley

Finding a Balance

It can be a challenge juggling work and play or in my case, a day job and your true passion. As a creative individual, it can be tough to find a balance between earning a living, by working a day job and managing an art practice.

There are very few artists or creatives who are fortunate enough to find themselves in a very successful art career – like Picasso. These artists can focus most of their time and effort on their art practice. With this level of success, an artist can afford to pay others to oversee the business side of their art career (such as a publicist, manager, accountant, lawyers, etc.) allowing themselves to concentrate mostly on their art. These artists have to work very hard to get to this point in their career, but when they do reach this level of success, they can enjoy perks such as this.

The majority of other creative people are left to struggle with finding a balance. Some are entrepreneurs who need to divide their time between running the business side of their art practice and the creative side - making the artwork. Others usually work a day job to pay the bills and have an art practice on the side. The most common example is an artist who works as an art teacher (there are many artists I know, who teach classes in an art program at a college or university and have an art career that they attend to in their spare time, outside of their teaching schedule).

This is me. No, I am not currently teaching, but I have recently started a new job and I am finding it difficult to strike a balance between working during a regular work week, (all day, everyday - Monday to Friday) and focusing on my art practice in both art and photography, during my spare time. Perhaps I haven’t been working at this job long enough to be able to find a rhythm or to develop a routine where I am able to separate my time into a regular schedule that dedicates blocks of time to my art practice and my job.

At the moment, I feel like I have no energy and I am completely drained when I come home from work. I feel absolutely exhausted and all I want to do is rest and relax when I arrive home. My mind is full of ideas and I want to make art and take photos, but my body is just too tired to be able to do this after working a full day.

Many other creatives have found themselves in the same position, and not just artists or photographers but also writers, content creators, videographers, master craftsmen or any kind of freelance creative. To overcome this hurdle, I have put together a list of suggestions that I will try. I am sharing them with you in the hopes that they may help you too.

1. First, come up with a plan. Be open to trying out several different options to see what works the best for your situation. Without a plan, you will never get back to your art practice because you will always think that you can put it off until tomorrow. Remember, procrastination can be a creative killer.

2. Put together a few different schedules and try each of them out over a few weeks to see which routine will be the most beneficial. Remember when making your weekly schedules that you need to make time for rest and relaxation. Don’t try to dedicate every free moment outside of work to your art practice. This is a recipe for disaster that will only lead to one thing…BURNOUT! Not only will it lead to burnout, but you won’t find your art practice as enjoyable, and it will feel like a chore. It may even cause you to abandon your art practice altogether because you no longer love doing it.

3. Remember to make the most of your weekends. If you work Monday to Friday like most people, that means that your weekends are free to fill them as you wish. You have 2 consecutive days (sometimes more, if it’s a long weekend). This is where you can focus a good chunk of time on your art practice. This could be spent doing research, reading, writing, or sketching out ideas, planning projects, applying for art grants, contacting galleries, entering juried art shows, going to art galleries and attending exhibition openings or going on a day trip that will be beneficial your art practice. You don’t need to focus on just making art all the time. On the other hand, don’t get distracted either, think about what you are doing and why – How will this benefit your art practice?

4. Join an art critique group or a weekly art class such as drawing sessions once a week. Many art galleries and museums offer a wide range of sessions like these. This will help you to schedule time to focus on your art practice each week. It may also have a positive impact on your art practice in other ways, including meeting new people with a similar interest in art, a new source of inspiration, learning new techniques or methods of working, and obtaining critical feedback on your artwork that will enable you to grow as an artist.

5. Start a website and/or a blog. This blog, for example, requires that I contribute to it regularly (at least once a month). I post a written portion with a selection of images, and I give myself an entire month to plan and prepare. In my blog, I discuss a range of topics related to my practice in art and photography, plus I photograph and edit the images that will accompany the write up.

For the website, I make sure the content is current, including the Events & Exhibitions page, so that people who are interested in my work will know what events are coming up and where they can go to see my artwork or me. Also, the images featured in my online portfolio need to be up to date as well. Having a current body of work on your website is a good indication to others that you make work regularly, otherwise, if you are not updating your site, it will appear as if you are no longer making art and you may get overlooked with possible opportunities. Having a website/blog is an option that needs regular maintenance, and it drives you to continue to keep working on it.

As I have previously stated, I will be testing out these options over the next little while, to see if one or several of these suggestions will help me to achieve a balance between working for a living and continuing my art practice. If you are someone who is also struggling to find a balance between your job and your passion, I wish you all the best and hope that you find this list of options helpful.

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Feb 07, 2022

Great blog Sarah. I struggle all the time to find that balance. One way that has worked for me is l schedule a day, or set aside 4-5 hours and l tell my family they are not allowed to bother me l am in the studio! I shut off my phone, put on the classical music and create. Shutting off the phone is key. No distractions. 😋🎨🖼

Feb 07, 2022
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Yes! Those are all good ideas too. There are so many distractions, shutting off your phone is a good one. Thanks Beth for sharing these tips!

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