Actually this is not by me. Back when I worked as an in house illustrator at Gooseberry Patch……… ok, now that the chuckling has quieted down, one of my co-workers gave me a copy of some tips for freelancing. Although they make a lot of sense they aren’t always easy to follow. Most of the artists I know are workaholics, not always a good thing. I wish I knew the source of this information so I could include it. Unfortunately, it’s was handed to me as a copy of text on a page. I have transcribed it and will hand it to you. Go in prosperity and every now and then take a break.
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 though 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!
8. Don’t believe all the ugly rumors about Eric Fortune. Most of them are NOT true…. Yeah, I thought this one was a little weird too. Oh well.
One of the best posts so far on this blog.
Thank you, Eric. I've almost forgotten how important these are.
thank you! #5 makes a lot of sense, i think i'll need to work on that one.
Ah, if I only were a workaholic.. I find myself way in the opposite trench: laziness.
There are a few of my New Year resolutions in that lot….
Well said, Eric. Thanks for the pick me up 😉
Thanks for this really important post!
Number 1 is indeed the most important rule of all, if you figure out how powerful it is, you don´t need to worry about the other points. They´ll come to you at a certain point of your life. I practice it myself for over 8 years now and life has changed much and without a doubt to the positive.
very nice post, and very helpful 🙂
it's exactly what i've needed right now.
Great post… #5 is a bit of advice I don't hear often but I will try to employ more myself. Thanks.
This is one of the most important posts I have seen on this blog. Tough advice to follow but so truthful. Thank you for all the reminders Eric.
Thanks, Eric! Very helpful reminder.
Eric, Good tidbits here. Pacing is the one that stands out to me the most.
I can't be on vacation without bringing “work” along, at least in my head and sketchbook. I don't think it's intrusive, I just feel like I enjoy having it with me. Dunno, maybe you could look at it as problematic, though I just see it as evidence that I'm still enjoying the job. Plus most people I know and socialize with anymore are artists of some sort so it's really hard to remove it completely.
I'm with Dave… I've given up on vacation. I end up feeling really unproductive after 3 days. Now, I just pad my deadlines and give myself an extra few weeks on a gig. That way, I can pick away at it without burning myself out, and still take a day off here and there when I need it.
“I go on vacation without my work.”
I read this as meaning “I don't take any jobs with me.” Sure, as an artist you'll always be “working” – you're a creative, and everything you see is inspiring, that's the way your creativity works, and so you want to capture it – regardless of whether it's a drawing, a photo, a story, etc. You do them for fun! And if they happen to prove useful for an assignment in a week, a year, ten years, then that's gravy!
Just what I needed Eric. Now I know why I fucked up for the last 4 months. Today I delivered and got approved the last cover in a series of 7. I am relaxed for the first time in 4 months. Reading this article just pointed out all my mental mistakes. I promise to follow the advices from now on. All except number 8. I will keep on rumor spreading about Eric Fortune.
I think I know where this advice originated… will post on Monday.
Also – Eric dances in the woods wearing women's clothing. This helps him relieve stress.
My name is Bill, I'm a workaholic. Look Eric I can borrow a few dresses, will you show me the forest dance?
I seriously believe that Eric's tranny dance in the woods has kept me from growing as an artist.
After this post, I can move on.
Sure Bill. It's called the “morning woods” dance…it's pretty addictive. Next post will be a music vid of Bill and myself doing said dance. Stay tuned;) JJP will be providing the music and goggles.
I think I'm also with Dave and Dan. I can't go too long without working. I get super restless. Weekends would be enough.
Very inspiring post, I will definitely put them to action, thanks
Thanks, this was really helpful.
Very nice, thanks for the information.
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