Life as a full-time Artist Working from Home (part 1)

Balance is crucial for a diverse and healthy life as well as a healthy business. There are some key elements to your well-being to keep in mind.

  • Emotional health – thoughts, feelings, behaviors. A sense of well-being and concept of wholeness which can come from a balanced life and positive outlook despite troubles we face.
  • Intellectual health – keeping our minds engaged and stimulated.
  • Social health – fostering positive and mutually beneficial relationships (friends, family, fellow artists) and even starting casual conversation with random people out and about.
  • Physical health – hygiene, nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, regularly visiting medical, psychological, and dental specialists.
  • Occupational health – brand integrity, education/training, customer service, maintenance, product development, production quality, financial strength, and tool optimization.
  • Financial health – monthly bills, daily expenses, and business expenses.

Many of these elements overlap at times (much like how social health and occupational health can be satisfied by spending time with fellow artists during an art jam, or how the improvement in ergonomic accessories and furniture for your workspace to help your physical health and occupational health for the long haul.) Despite the fact we can “kill two birds with one stone” for many of these key points, it can be easy to prioritize one or two while overlooking other critical elements.

Keep up with General maintenance

Maintenance isn’t glamorous or fun but it’s necessary for personal and business health. Your hands, mind, and eyes are your tools so don’t forget to give yourself time to rest and recover evenings and on weekends. Vacation time is important for growth and recovery as well!

Improving the organization and cleanliness of your living establishment and art studio can help keep clear your mind of distractions and make for more efficient work. I can tell it’s time for me to reorganize the art room if I would rather work in an uncomfortable spot like a couch in the living room as opposed to the ergonomic yet messy art room!

If you have a website, part of your job is ensuring it’s up to date and working properly for customers when they want to learn something or purchase items through your shop. The same can be for social media updates to keep followers informed of commission status and upcoming events.

And oh gosh, inventory. For those of you who base their business on selling merchandise like I do, for the love of gourd and all that is pumpkin spice, keep track of your inventory. Establish a system early in the life of your business. I was stubborn and commission driven for the first few years (but also pumping out new merchandise every few months) so inventory took a back seat. Here I am now — in the 3rd year of my business — counting through buttons, pins, stickers, prints, shirts, etc. to enter into my Square inventory system. Thankfully it integrates with my shop here on WordPress so I’m up to date online and in person. This will make it way easier to deal with as I get new merchandise in the future; “Set it and forget it!”

Never neglect your physical health needs. Arrange for doctor appointments, therapy appointments, and dentist appointments. If you have medications, take your medications. Those kinds of appointments may seem obvious but for workaholics like myself, we need gentle reminders. An alert on your phone could help with keeping up with medications or if you need to make a special appointment with a doctor. I’m thankful that the dentist makes it easy for me: I make sure I set a future appointment at the dentist’s office so that I don’t have to set time aside later to make the appointment. The rest is up to me to schedule as I need check-ups and special treatments.

Maintenance is also important in a less-medical, less-urgent sense. Indulge yourself in the occasional “spa day” to help yourself feel good in your skin and present yourself in the way that you want to be seen. Get a hairstyle makeover or treat yourself to a pedicure. Even if your idea of a spa day is just a bubble bath and some relaxing music, do it! You deserve it! You deserve to feel good about yourself! And when you feel good about yourself, that helps you to represent your business with pride! A job starts feeling less like a privilege and more of a chore when you don’t treat yourself once in a while.

Sleep is crucial for our bodies to recover from long days of mentally and physically challenging work. Whether it’s because of stress or our inability to separate our from what we’re doing when the sun sets, it can be difficult to get the amount of sleep that our bodies need. Ideally we should work a consistent set of hours so that our minds and bodies are better prepared to stop work and get settled in for sleep. Additionally we should consider a certain amount of time for interacting online, promoting & answering messages on smart phones. The sun emits ultraviolet light and phones emit blue light which can trick our brains into being awake longer than we should be. Do yourself a favor and keep your phone away from yourself for the last 2-3hours before heading to bed. Your sleep is important. Messages can wait until the sun rises in the morning.

Limit distractions during your work hours

Leave your phone plugged in turn notifications off silence your phone only use what you need for working on commissions during the day so that you don’t find yourself plunging into an abyss of social media nonsense. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t interact with friends and followers; just be sure not to let it suck up all your work time! I also find that Instagram streaming helps me to socialize AND be productive. That way my phone is busy recording instead of distracting me!

Limit your weekly work hours

It’s so easy to work all the time when you make your passion the core of your job. But you will get to a point when you are overloaded and overeager to do your work ESPECIALLY when the rest of your needs are out of balance. Guess what. You’re making this full-time art job thing way harder than it needs to be. A big part of why things are out of balance is because you took your job’s core and made it your ONLY responsibility. That’s when things start falling apart. (This is how my inventory took a back seat for 2 years – oops!)

If you aren’t able to separate work from life in general, you will start to feel worn down. Working long hours every day of the week, I’ve forgotten what day it was, neglected socializing, self-care, and true downtime. You could even find yourself stuck in a whirlwind of all work and no play. When you start second-guessing your current career path, the career may be fine but the path needs to change.

As a freelance creative professional, you may be working a job that people may belittle but don’t let anyone convince you that you need to work relentlessly longer hours or more days of the week. You are operating a business as your own boss and you get to run your business the way you deem fit. If that means you can satisfy your customers and maintain a proper balance by working four days a week, by all means, go for it!

Never stop learning

Engage in self-teaching practices such as watching YouTube tutorial videos or buying books about art theory and anatomy. Always keep growing your mind beyond the confines of your business and diversify your mind. It’s lonely being a walking, talking furry-art nerd with very little else to contribute to conversation when engaging with people outside of the fandom. That’s why I try to keep up on current events, listen to some podcasts about different social topics, and learn about food, culture, history, and language. You may find subject matter that could inspire your next commission offering or a new design for merchandise! But most of all, your mind won’t be left stagnant as you succumb to a busy, repetitive artist life.

Be the person that you needed when you were a newbie

As you grow your business and improve your skills, never forget your humble beginnings. Talk to novice artists with respect and help to inspire them to be the best they can be. Always remind yourself how far you have come with the help of others. Remember how enchanting it was meeting or talking to creators that inspired you to be the person you are now. Think about how it would have helped to have more guidance upon entering into the fandom, growing as an artist, trying to establish a business, and foster your fan base. It’s so confusing and intimidating starting an art business. Art school and books on business are out there, sure! But hearing words of advice and encouragement from the mouths of those we look up to is priceless. It’s not a competition and as we artists grow and experience more, we can all afford to offer a helping hand — no matter how small — to the next generation.

Revisit the Advice Archives or subscribe to catch the continuation of this post in Part 2 and Part 3!

If you found this post informative, feel free to share on social media!
If you have experience or suggestions to share, I would appreciate your comments below!

Much LORF!

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