4 TIPS FOR WORK-ART BALANCE
For as long as I could remember, it was a great day if I spent a good portion of it with my pencil and paper. So, naturally, one day I thought, “Hey, what if I turn this into a business? I’ll have so much more time to create art, right?” Wrong! I soon found out that running a business is…running a business. Yes, my business was about art, but that didn’t mean that the endless laundry list of business tasks wasn’t still there.
Instead of creating art, I was working on SEO, writing blog posts, collaborating with companies, doing paperwork, the list goes on and on. How had I ended up running a business about art without having time to create art? More importantly, what fun was it to strip all the art out of my life in exchange for SEO and paperwork? No thank you! Things needed to change.
I’m happy to say that I eventually found a way to bring art creation back into my life, while still checking the boring business stuff off the list. I achieved what I like to call “work-art balance.”
Here are some strategies I used to find my own work-art balance that you can use to find your own.
TREAT YOUR ART LIKE WORK
For most of my life, art has been a passion of mine. When I turned my art into a business, I didn’t want to put it in the same category as all my tedious business tasks.
I was wrong. In fact, it was really helpful to see my art as “work,” living in the same category as all of my other business tasks. Prior to this categorization, my art was easy to dismiss. There was always something more urgent to do relating to my business. Once I put my art into the same category as my business, it leveled the playing field. Suddenly, my art was an important task that I needed to get done every day.
One of the reasons I was hesitant to see my art as work is that I didn’t want to destroy my enjoyment of it by seeing it as a job. This concern was valid. That said, I had already decided to start a business around my art, which shattered this distinction anyways.
Like it or not, my art was now my job and deserved to be a high priority in my work life. It also deserved to be just as enjoyable as it was before. There was no reason why I needed to enjoy my art less just because it became my job.
Understanding this concept was key to seeing art creation as an important part of my workday.
I also get the added benefit of saying that I’m going to work, which really means that I’m going to sit on the couch and watch my favorite show as I draw on Procreate.
SCHEDULE TIME FOR YOUR ART
Once I started appropriately viewing art as my job, it was time to add it to my schedule. I scheduled all my other work commitments and finally saw art as one of those work commitments. I needed to schedule time for it as well.
We all know that scheduling can be an overly complicated mathematical equation that’s unique for every individual. I’d like to say that I found a special way to make extra time appear in my day, but I didn’t. Just like everyone else, I needed to solve my own mathematical equation, shift some numbers around, and evaluate the outcome. After some trial and error and missteps, I landed on a schedule that lets me create art almost every day.
It’s not perfect, and I miss more days than I would like, but having it on my schedule has increased my consistency and output. It also has ensured that my art is kept as a high priority in my life that can’t be pushed aside.
While it might feel daunting at first, commit to scheduling your art creation time in the same way you would your other work commitments. It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s ok! Simply committing to scheduling your art creation, even if you can’t always stick to it, can go a long way to making art creation a regular part of your workday that doesn’t get overshadowed by other tasks.
HAVE ART MARATHONS
Given my last tip, it’s clear that I’m a fan of scheduling making art into my daily workflow. That said, something else I’ve become a fan of is art marathons. These are days where the only work-related thing I do is create art. I announce it to my family, so they don’t fill my day with laundry and yard work; I queue up a movie marathon or TV series I’ve been meaning to watch; I make sure we have enough snacks and tea. I make a big deal of it! This keeps it fun, as well as productive.
I can’t even tell you how much I love these art marathons. A full day of art sounds dreamy. A full day of art that also doubles as a productive workday? Now that’s bliss.
If you’re someone who struggles to task switch throughout the day, art marathons can be especially helpful. Instead of having to put away your art at the very moment when you’re in a good groove, the whole day is open for your creativity and production. If I’m enjoying my art, I don’t have to stop in 20 minutes to write a social media post or handle the endless amount of other tasks on my to-do list. Just create art.
I also find that art marathons ease the pressure of finding time to create art regularly, while bringing the passion back into it at the same time. If I happen to miss one of my daily art sessions, I know that I have an art marathon ahead to make up for it.
I find myself looking forward to these art marathon days. I daydream about what I’m going to create and how fun it will be. When creating art starts to feel more like a work necessity than a passion, an art marathon day spent reconnecting with my love for art can go a long way.
MAKE TIME FOR ART YOU ENJOY
Once I started my art business, I felt like I needed to maximize my efficiency and productivity so that my art would cater to the upward trajectory of my business. Creativity squasher? Pretty much. Very quickly, I realized that I needed to create art I enjoyed. Ironically enough, this is the art that I feature most often on my website.
If you do commissions or assignments, you can’t always create the art you want to create. That said, I strongly advocate for finding time to make art you enjoy. The art that lights you up and makes you forget what time it is. The art that made you fall in love with creating art in the first place. This might be 5 minutes once a week, or an entire marathon day. Wherever you can fit it in, do it.
From my own experience, scheduling time to do whatever the heck I want artistically keeps me grounded in the reason for starting my business in the first place. I love art! I started my business because I love art! I don’t want the business I started because I love art to ultimately squash my love of art!
Whenever you feel like you’re losing sight of why you love art in the first place, spend some time reconnecting with it. In fact, write “create art I enjoy” on your to-do list for the day. Don’t think about all the Pinterest pins you can make with it or how much you could sell it for. Heck, throw it in the trash when you’re done! Create art you enjoy just for the sake of it.
Remember that art is what you do for work now. When striving for work-art balance, don’t merge the two. Let the art you create for your business be on the “work” side of the “work-art” equation, and don’t forget about the “art” side. The side where you come alive creating art that isn’t serving a deadline, client, social media algorithm, or website design. The side where you create art for the sake of creating art. That’s where the beauty of work-art balance truly lives. Happy creating!
Diana Fitts is the artist and writer behind Adventures with Art, a place where she shares her expertise and love for Procreate, Canva, painting, drawing, crochet, and so much more. Diana also has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.