Lately, as life would have it, I’ve been dealing with more obstacles to the creative process rather than to the creative process itself. Studio time has become more scarce. Much more scarce. I needed to get a day job a few weeks ago. It severely cuts into my art making. After a non-productive bout of feeling bitter about my situation, I got on with it to see what I could do to ensure that my art making doesn’t fall by the wayside as it has in the past because of day jobs.

Let me backtrack a bit to before I got this new job. I knew that I hadn’t been the best at juggling art and a job. Instead of diving headlong into the first opportunity that came my way, I considered what got in the way before. Here’s a list:

  1. I liked my day job too much and got wrapped up in it. It’s not hard to do when whitewater kayaking is the day job.
  2. Time-suck distances. There have been a few jobs that were great, but they were over an hour’s commute from my home. That meant that I was either never home, or home just long enough to eat and sleep.
  3. Occupational loathing. I had a job that I disliked so much that it sucked all of the life and energy from me. There was no way I was going to be productive in my studio in my spare time.
  4. Self-employment. Although it works for some, I had a very difficult time promoting myself in an endeavor that I thought would make money so I could concentrate on just making art in the studio. Making a living became too stressful and I felt like I couldn’t gamble with my time by painting when I had bills to pay. I became a crazy workaholic doing a job I didn’t want to be doing.
  5. Work that is too closely related to making art. When I was doing design work I had to be thinking about color and composition, but  not in ways that I wanted to be thinking. Burn out. Getting in the studio to work with color and composition just didn’t happen.

I knew that when I started to look for a job I couldn’t get one that I liked too much, that was too far away, that I despised, that I started myself or that had anything to do with art making. I also knew that I couldn’t work too many hours, but I needed to make a salary that would pay the bills.

It lead to a decision that I thought I would never make again: I’m working in a law office as a legal assistant. This was what I did as a graduated student in San Francisco. I didn’t enjoy the work, but I was able to pay my rent in a very expensive city by working part time.

Here are the benefits:

  1. I have a lunch break that allows me time to work on my computer (I’m on my lunch break as I write this). I’ve also been able to plow through mundane database projects that I had been procrastinating doing since being in the studio is far more appealing than data entry. There is no studio here to distract me.
  2. When I leave work, I LEAVE work. It doesn’t loom over me. That leaves space in my life to dedicate to art.
  3. I don’t need to put all of my free time to finding jobs or clients. The work just shows up at my desk and I do it.
  4. This is not something that I aspire to be doing with my time. It is a huge motivating factor to get in my studio AND promote it.
  5. I don’t have to worry if what I am making will ‘sell.’ I can separate my instinct for survival from my art. This frees me to make work that is true to itself rather than something that may please someone. I’ve found that it rarely does please anyone when that is the goal.

Now, four days a week I have to put on heels instead of my fuzzy slippers. I hope to escape the day job one of these days. But for now, having it has relieved a lot of stress. Working in my studio is actually fun again.

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