Life as a full-time Artist Working from Home (part 3)

Catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this post!

Help your body last as long as your business

Don’t limit yourself with cheap or lazy choices regarding your furniture, tools, and supplies when it comes to your workspace. I’ve talked about how this can affect your health with repetitive motion injuries but this can also affect your state of mind. When working in your workspace, do your tools make you question your abilities as an artist? Are you are you uncomfortable in your workspace? Do you hate to look at your workspace and dread entering your studio to work? It could just be organization as mentioned in the earlier posts but if working always leads to pain, you may be due for a furniture and tool overhaul!

Exercise can help keep you energized, release endorphins, and counteract the various effects of sitting in place for extended periods of time. Stressed out? Make time to get those endorphins pumping. Can’t sleep? Wear down your body and mind with strenuous cardiovascular exercise. If you’re making the excuse that you don’t have time to work out but you’re also suffering from poor sleep habits, your body is proving to you that you could be using your time more wisely.

Are you anxious to keep working? Unwilling to take time to focus on your personal health? Time for a wake-up call for your own good. You’re a professional artist. You create artwork for money. You’re not a firefighter, a neurosurgeon, or an air traffic controller. No one is going to lose their lives because you take a few breaks in the day to stretch, have a meal, exercise, and go to sleep at a decent hour. You also aren’t going to win a prize for treating yourself like garbage just so people get their commissions a few hours faster. If you don’t stretch, you could hurt yourself and be out of commission for weeks or even months! (I’ve done that. I don’t recommend it.) If you don’t take care of yourself consistently, your work turns into a chore and you won’t function at your best. Days that I’ve worked without eating are riddled with distractions, discomfort, errors, and long pauses of inactivity. IT’S NOT GOOD PRODUCTIVITY. Get the energy you need and take breaks so that when you get back to work, you can tackle your work more efficiently!

Don’t downplay the significance of your job

You have worth. Your art has worth. Your artwork is the product of your job. Just because you enjoy creating doesn’t mean your business isn’t a real job. Just because you don’t save lives with a scalpel doesn’t mean you don’t have importance, value, or impact on peoples’ lives. And people that work in corporate positions get benefits and pay… even in creative industries… or else they wouldn’t be doing it. Price shouldn’t just cover supplies. It should go toward your daily needs; medical insurance, 401K/savings, vacation, sick days.

You may think “I’m not a corporation, I can’t afford these things!” But you deserve to pay yourself a living wage for your work. If you are living commission-to-commission to barely cover basic bills and food, you need to take on more work. And if you’re overworked, your rates need to go up. Remember that operating a business is a hell of an undertaking for a sole-proprietor. You are the CEO, CFO, Owner, Manager, Employee, Marketing Executive, R&D, Events planner, Advertising Executive, Packaging department worker, IT department professional, and communications director all in one.

A freelance artist’s work is never done. You will feel like you’re being torn every which way with all the things you need to do and want to do to grow your business; product launches, event planning, advertising campaigns, branding overhaul. With this in mind, talk about yourself with the respect you deserve. This doesn’t mean be arrogant. But you should get recognition for the energy and passion you put into a business that has so many moving parts. It’s like the “one-man band” but the art business edition!

When you talk about your job, always acknowledge that it’s a REAL job; not a hobby, not a “guilty pleasure.” You are a professional. Never claim to be an “aspiring artist” – It implies that you’re not committed or you have doubt in yourself. Never buy into the “starving artist” mentality – it is an outdated stereotype that continues to be thrown around by artists and non-artists alike. Calling any other job a “real job” or saying you’re an “aspiring artist” cheapens your experiences, belittles your abilities, and downplays your accomplishments. It’s when this phrase is expressed by artists, we hurt the reputation and significance of our industry from within. You have to take control of your prices, your advertising, your communications, your skills. Everything is in your control for communicating your self worth.

Once you’re a full-time artist and business owner, you can see it’s not just watching Netflix and doodling blissfully all day like you may have dreamed. For the best and fastest success (i.e. to get to a point where you are comfortable and your business is stable), you may work harder than you may have in any prior job. That’s why, when your efforts start to bring positive results, you deserve to be treated like the hardworking professional and business owner that you are!

Have fun separate from work too

“Full-time” doesn’t mean work 24/7 (despite what workaholic creatives may assume!) Our work may never be done but don’t forget that you are allowed to have fun and do non-art business things too. Just like any other job, people are expected to be in “job mode” from clock-in to clock-out. When employed in corporate, people get time off for vacations, events, appointments, other responsibilities in their lives, and so forth. Now that you are your own boss and you work where you live, it’s hard to delineate between work and freedom.

Take some time off to be with family, friends, and significant others. Travel to new and exciting places even if it’s just a new restaurant that opened down the street. Even if it’s a stay-cation. Read a book, play a game, do some interior decorating… Something that doesn’t involve WORK. You need to rebuild and refresh just like any other person in any other job.

Additionally, when I go to conventions, I’m there purely to sell in the dealers den. After the den is closed, that’s my time to take a vacation recover from the long stressful day of being my high-energy, joyful, social-anxiety ridden self. After a busy day, every dealer deserves a chill evening with friends, take a dip in the hotel pool, fursuit around the con, and eat a real dinner (perhaps one that contains a vegetable or two!) It’s far too draining for me to sell all day then work on commissions all night. I used to take commissions and torture myself with quick turnarounds at cons. But after enough customers said “Hope you enjoy the con!” to me as I whimpered inside at the thought of my at-con workload, I realized that selling all day and working again all night was not a way I should be enjoying the con… nor was it healthy. I do my best work at home and I find that the people that are willing to wait for my quality work aren’t disappointed. By taking my work home, everyone wins because they get a commission we’re both proud of (isn’t rushed) and I treat myself to fun con activities, meals, and sleep!

Don’t Go “Freelance Feral”

There are times where I have secluded myself in my art room for an extended period of time then when I get the opportunity to socialize with people that aren’t artists or furries, I’m not sure what to do with myself. It’s really bad when I’m stuck in “job mode” as I prepare for a con or try to rebound from downtime. When I’m freelance feral, my social anxiety is allowed to run rampant in social situations. As an introvert who is in the business of selling to fellow humans in public spaces, I know that I have to balance my reclusive productivity with occasional attempts to be an extrovert.

Streaming on Instagram or other social streaming outlets can give you the opportunity work while talking… like a human. I enjoy singing while I work but speaking real sentences with real human beings is essential since there are so many human beings to interact with outside of your cozy studio… and last time I checked, we don’t live in a musical.

If you listen to people with a better vocabulary and broader view of the world than you can help you expand your mind and not let yourself get dumbed down as you work alone from home. This is your job and you’re the only employee so you get to surround yourself with people (or voices) that you want to listen to. Audio books and podcasts are a great option. I have a number of podcasts that I enjoy listening to with topics ranging from relationships to fashion to current events. You can engage your mind and be productive at the same time. Listening to a selection of podcasts that aren’t art or furry related can help give you more to talk about and train your brain to think like a social creature! Think about topics that interest you and make the steps to learn more.

When you’re out and about, casual chats with your coffee shop barista or in line at the post office can help you feel a little less like a wild animal too. I’ve gotten familiar with the post office employees at the location I choose to ship orders from. I often chat about business, vacations, and other topics with the co-owner of the sushi restaurant that I get take-out from. This isn’t a substitute for friends but it’s a good way to practice being a social human!

In closing

I know I still have areas of improvement that I need to focus on to improve my well-being; especially exercise, general maintenance, and working on personal art. The first step is knowing there’s a problem with our routine and self-care. From here, it can only get better if we try to make the change!

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!

Do you enjoy Crazdude’s Art & Advice Blogs?

Please be sure to share your favorite blog post on social media!
Also consider checking out Crazdude’s referral links for a way to show your support in a way that benefits you as well!

2 Responses to “Life as a full-time Artist Working from Home (part 3)

  • Shottsy
    5 years ago

    This is super helpful! Thank you for posting this I am guilty of not taking care of myself and facing serious burnout. Would love to catch up sometime!

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.