Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
Home Artist Blog About Me Life in Alaska Purchase Site Index Speak
Home » Archives » July 2004 » Down time vs. Discipline

[Previous entry: "Still not painting / Is PhotoShop becoming a crutch?""] [Next entry: "Hairy Encounter / Hair-brained Idea?"]

07/20/2004: "Down time vs. Discipline"

Yesterday I made an entry about how I'm worried because I haven't been able to get back into my daily painting groove for the past couple of weeks since my show opened. Some of you commented or emailed that I shouldn't worry about it, that down time is an important part of the creative process. I'm still wondering though how it is for "working artists", that is, artists who support themselves entirely from their art or art related activities.

I mean, I feel like I'm striving for this ideal, to become more "professional"...and maybe I don't really understand what that means. I think of it as having set hours for work everyday, and that when you get out of the habit of painting (or whatever your medium is) that you should *force* yourself to start back up again as soon as possible.

The old me has always gone through phases of working like a maniac and then not working for long periods of time. It is one of the things I fight against the hardest because in my own mind, I don't think I'll ever get to the point of being able to make a living as an artist if I don't become more consistent in my productivity. I don't know if that is a misconception or not. Maybe all artists need periods of time where they aren't physically working on their craft, where they take care of other aspects of the business (sending out slides, making contacts, taking care of tax information, etc.)

Anyway, here are some books on the topic of learning how to become a working artist, that I've read over the course of the past year. Of the ones listed I think the ones I liked the most were the first and second in the list (although the second has a very adversarial tone against gallery owners and critics).

1. Taking the Leap: Building a Career As a Visual Artist

2. How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist, 5th ed. : Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

3. Art Marketing 101: A Handbook for the Fine Artist

4. The Artist's Guide to New Markets: Opportunities to Show and Sell Art Beyond Galleries

5. How to Make Money as an Artist

Replies: 4 Comments

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Steve said

Your definition of a "working artist" is too narrow. I can't live on the paintings I sell but I still work my ass off.

I think quitting your day job is an over-rated fantasy anyway.Imagine having to depend on selling paintings to pay for health insurance, rent, childcare, retirement, etc. I feel pressured to do work I can sell to put food on the table.

The luxury of a day job means security and peace of mind that allows you to be experimental and not have to bow to market pressures.

I say be thankful for the cool setup you have and the fact that you can still do whatever you want, creatively speaking.I'm currently out of work which sucks, believe me. I have all the time in the world to paint but I'd still switch places with you if I could.

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Elise said

Hey Steve,
I just used "working artist" in that way because I didn't know how else to call it, it was nothing personal.

And I do feel lucky to have a job. The idea of being a self-supporting artist more of a lifetime goal, something I strive for, maybe I'll get there in the next 30 years but don't worry, I'm not quitting my day job.

I'm sorry to hear you're out of work, I've been there. Hopefully things will turn around soon (vote Kerry in November)

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Steve said

Oh, I didn't mean to sound defensive or anything. And yes, I'm pulling for Kerry/Edwards. Too bad I live in Wyoming, a solidly red state. I suppose your vote is about as useless in Alaska as mine is?

on Thursday, July 22nd,">Elise said

afraid so.