Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tips and Tricks from an Art Slave

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – Henry David Thoreau

You know the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” You marketed, you mailed, you contacted. Now you have all of these deadlines looming and you are overwhelmed. You get worried, you aren’t motivated, and ideas are not coming. So you work later and harder. Welcome to the world of an art slave.

This is not where you want to be as an artist. After all, one of the reasons we love being an artist is the freedom that we have. But, if you are not disciplined, an art career can be just like any other job: stressful, mindless, paycheck motivated!

Be an artist- not an art slave. Find a ritual that works for you. Stay connected to the river of ideas…your inner voice…your muse. Whatever you choose to call it, art is a spiritual process. If you aren’t cultivating a relationship to creativity, you probably won’t have one when you need it. Here are a few tips that work for many artists I know, including myself. The only problem is: you have to do them every day to make them work.



1. Get up happy. Say some affirmations. Get rid of the negative chatter in your head-that voice that says things like, “I’m not coming up with any good ideas. I’ll never make this deadline. I’ll never be good enough to do this job.” Instead, train that voice to say something positive. Reprogram yourself. “I am illustrating books that people love. I am happy with my art. My career is going great. I am a successful artist…” This might sound too simple, and you’ve probably heard it before from the self –help gurus. Have you ever actually tried it….consistently over a few months?

2. Exercise and stay healthy. This is not an option. When you feel healthy, you are more open and ideas come more quickly.

3. Sit quietly each day, do yoga, or meditate. Get calm and peaceful so that when the ideas come, you actually realize they are there. Worry, anger, fear, and other emotions actually block the ability to grasp those sparks of imagination.

4. Create a place and time to be at work. This is important if you are working at home. Your mind needs to understand, “I am now at work. I will now be creative.” So sharpen your pencils, put on music, sit before your drawing table and begin.

5. Don’t talk too much about your ideas; this depletes some of the magic. On a subconscious level, your wonderful idea has become a real thing in the world. It’s not real, and it won’t be, until you do it. So, instead of sharing your magnificent thoughts, go make the work happen.

6. Take time outs doing something you love. Go to a museum. Sit by a lake. Walk through the woods. You must replenish yourself. Fill the well. Don’t view this as goofing off…this time is very important.

7. Don’t be a workaholic. This is difficult, because you won’t know it, until it’s too late. Your friends and family will know it before you will. ONLY YOU CAN CONTROL THIS. Be the work police and set your own boundaries. Make a contract with yourself. “I do not wok on Tuesday and Sunday. I go on vacation without my work. I have lunch with a friend on Friday every week. I only work from 9am to 2pm.“ Put up a sign. Remind yourself that you are free to set your own schedule. Work as late or as little or as early as you want, but make sure you’re enjoying the pace.

Remember, somebody you know will be published before you or more often than you. They will be more successful. They will sell more books. They will get more speaking engagements. You think you will never make it. You won’t…unless you stop working so hard to catch up. Find your own pace. Find your own style. Do what works for you. Be patient. Change happens in incremental ways. When you consciously make these daily choices, you will see a big difference in your life over time…and you will be balanced enough to notice!


I transcribed this. Not sure where my friend got it. But feel free to add any of your own tips. I don't follow this everyday. But maybe I'd experience less burnout and enjoy the work more if I did. Having a good work ethic is great. But Balancing that is def important......I'm workin on it.

28 comments:

Maria Teicher said...

Thank you for posting this. It was a lovely, inspiring read.

cupcake studio said...

Such wise advice (even for us "non" art slaves :)

Thea Schultheiss said...

I really enjoyed reading that, very inspiring - thanks for sharing!

Steven Russell Black said...

Thats some really great stuff. Thanks for posting this Eric.

Sam Wolfe Connelly said...

word. this was a great post. thanks :]

Kendra Melton said...

Isn't it funny how we can overlook the most obvious, right in front of us solutions to our issues.

Thanks for posting this, I'll definitely share it with some of my other friends who could use a pep talk. :]

Take it easy and keep up the great work!

haley said...

just what I needed ..

Jinx in the Sky said...

Thanks for sharing these!

Heidi Alamanda said...

Eric, thanks for posting this. You have no idea how this somehow reassures me. I'm enjoying my pace, but sometimes when you are exposed to other sources, you may second guess yourself. Whether you've done enough, creative enough etc.
Thanks again, Eric and best of luck on your future projects:)

Gambear1er said...

Definitely hit home with this entry. Glad to hear that no one is alone in feeling like they are overwhelmed!! Thanks for sharing eric.

J.Wang said...

I should print this out in poster size and mount it on my wall, haha. Thanks for the great advice.

ruel pascual said...

Great timing on this post. Been burning both end of the candle with work and art. Gotta stop and smell the roses. Thanks for posting this.

erica lynn said...

your awesome brother... keep it up!

bill said...

Being in academia I appreciate #5 the most. Talking artwork to death kills the magic. Drink a lot of water, you will have to take breaks.

Beth said...

Going along with the "keep your own pace" idea, I'll add a comment I heard from one of the art directors at Illuxcon (paraphrased): Do what you love, and then find the market for it. Don't try to learn a style just because it's popular or because you think there's money in it.

I don't know how much flak I've gotten from my teachers in art school because I insist on doing lineart or more cartoony paintings instead of realism. But I know that style is what I need to do, because nothing gives me more of a thrill. When I can't stop grinning while working on a painting, I know I'm doing something right.

m.b said...

This is wonderful! Reading points like these will always make more sense and stick with you better when they come from an outside source - a great reminder for us all. Thank you!

Eric Braddock said...

Awesome post, Eric! I think you really hit some important issues and it's always nice knowing that there are others who suffer from the same things on a regular basis.

Alejandro Gonzalez said...

Great article. Definitely gonna follow these tips...thanks

Gerald de Dios said...

Thank you so much for the article!

Carly Mazur said...

What's even most important to remember is no one is perfect, and you will inevitably encounter some rough patches but you will get through them.
I have tattooed on my wrists a paint palette and paint brushes along with the words "create" and "passion" as an everyday, every moment reminder of what I do and why I do it. Of course no one has to go to the same extreme I did, but it never fails to put me at ease whenever I see them :)

MJC *-* said...

Thank you for these wonderful words.
It looks like the perfect post for me, because i'm always 'all over the place' with my thoughts.
Creative people pick up so many vibes, images, ideas from daily life that it's hard to focus. It's like your brain is a big building but all the doors are open... 24/7. Drives me nuts sometimes.
I try to focus on one thing, so i can accomplish more work!

Thanks a lot for that, have a nice day.

C.R. MacTernan said...

Eric-
This is a great post. I can really relate to all this, especially in the last year that has gone by. Very inspiring and comforting. Thanks dude! ;P Hope all is well with you by the way. Been a long time!

EricFortune said...

Glad everyone is enjoying this one. I'll have to re read it every now and then to try and keep me on track.

EricFortune said...

Another good point a friend brought up.

"Burnout can come from too much outflow, not enough inflow — thus take a walk and notice things.

And especially from working in the same visual space without variation — thus take a walk and notice things at a different distance from the visual space you’ve been working in.

Do it either every two hours or so, or do it when you feel your productivity dropping."

Brandon Kallmes said...

Reading this makes me feel like I'm not the only one who struggles. Thanks for sharing.

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Magma Orphan said...

" Find your own pace. Find your own style. Do what works for you. Be patient. Change happens in incremental ways. When you consciously make these daily choices, you will see a big difference in your life over time…and you will be balanced enough to notice! " Really honest prose on maintaining, remaining productive & optimistic about producing.