Art learners with full-time non-artist work/school?
4mo
Siqi
Hi everyone! I'm Siqi. I rediscovered my love of art a few months ago. It has been a very meaningful experience learning as much as I can about art, not to mention a timely opportunity to keep myself busy indoors! I was one of those kids who drew all the time, but I thought the only kind of artist I could become was a starving artist. Now I have full-time non-art work that is quite cognitively demanding, so it is often challenging and exhausting to do more learning and practising after work. I'm not looking for magic words that will give me extra time or energy (if only it works that way!), but I am curious about who is in the same boat. Maybe a sense of community might help us all to get in a bit more practice even when our brains just want to snooze? :)
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MICHAEL VAN WOODWARD
Hi Siqi! I too am a very busy "real job with family" person who is struggling to find time to do art projects. At this point I'd probably say that I am an amateur illustrator who does project management for money. Currently I spend 30 min. to an hour on my lunch break doing art, at least 3-4 times per week. That may not seem like much but I am not an evening person and I have struggled immensely to do any personal projects after work, and the early morning is taken up with exercise and meditation. I could try to get up even earlier, but that would mean that I don't spend time with my partner in the evenings. I make up for it by trying to get the most out of every time I do art. I plan out at the start of the week what projects I want to be doing (is it a master study, is it a still life? At least 2 days developing one of my illustration projects, etc.). I also find that I need to take a real break from studying and projects every 4-6 weeks, otherwise I risk burning out from all the stress I place on myself. In short, I hear you on the struggles of developing your craft with limited amounts of time. I feel that it's worth it though, we're all in it together :)
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Chris Beaven
Hey Michael! You're 100% correct! Setting a minimum and keeping a daily practice is super powerful! I've been working every single day for the past 8 plus years with a minimum art time of 30 minutes a day. Many days I do more but there have been months when I've only done my minimum. I've logged all my work for the past 3117 days in a row here: chrisbeaven.com. You can see how much I've improved by just setting a minimum. The most important is consistency! Showing up every single day and building that habit! Here is one of many videos I've created that may help. https://www.createquest.net/establish-a-creative-ritual/
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Alex Fore
I was also one of those kids who grew up drawing all the time, but I grew in a small town and didn't realize what opportunities were actually out there for artists. I ended up going into graphic design and am now a web developer. I am currently trying to find time to start studying art more seriously, but consistency has proven difficult between spending time with family, work, and exercising. I've had some success with scheduling time, but lately the toddler changes his schedule almost on a weekly basis. I pretty much have to commit to waking up super early or staying up pretty late. I'm still struggling to find the answer, but hoping to get back on track soon.
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Siqi
2mo
Hi Alex! Thanks for sharing! I definitely relate to your experience growing up not knowing about the opportunities out there for artists. To be honest, I'm still not super clear on them now, but I'm giving myself time to explore. It's definitely hard to balance all the "adult responsibilities" and kudos to you for making time for art with a toddler in the house! I also appreciate hearing about your current career. Since I went into a 100% non-artsy field, I've always considered graphic design and web developing to be "artsy" careers, so that made it extra interesting to hear your perspective!
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Siqi
2mo
@Martijn Punt @Olga Bruser @Moonless_Sky @Uku Kivisild @Alberto Grubessi @Konstantinos Christofi @Yiming Wu @Gannon Beck (and anyone reading who may be interested) If anyone is interested in a small group chat to provide some support, motivation, and accountability, please let me know! :)
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Chris Beaven
I'm in! I have a ton of wisdom to share on the subject!
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Irshad Karim
I ended up opting for the non-art related career myself, many years ago, having majored in Interactive Multimedia, and getting hired after graduation as a game programmer at a studio that made educational software for toddlers. It was around the same time I got hired, or even a little before, that I firmly decided I wanted to pursue a career in art (which had been a hobby of mine for the previous decade). It's not that I don't enjoy programming - it's just that I figured I'd rather do game development for my own projects, for fun, and I'd be happier doing concept art and illustration for clients. I worked full-time - so 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I would definitely consider it to be cognitively taxing, but I did find that if I pushed myself, I had different pools of energy to draw from. After work, I sure as hell wouldn't want to push myself to do more programming at home, but while it felt difficult at first, I was able to coax myself into putting time into my art. Granted, it helped that I didn't have any other responsibilities - I lived with my parents, so while I helped them with chores in the weekends, I didn't have to cook dinner each night and had a fair bit of free time. I started making a habit of spending at least 3 hours each night on taking my art more seriously. First, I set a challenge for myself, where every night I'd do a photo study - a minimum of 3 hours had to be invested, and a minimum of 1 study. So if I happened to be satisfied with a study before that time was up, I would start another. If I got into the groove and wanted to go loner than 3 hours, I could, but of course I still had work the next day. I did this for 31 days straight, including weekends. Setting that end date helped, because I could see the finish line. It wasn't an arbitrary endeavor, so even if it was tough, I was able to push my limits knowing that it wouldn't be forever. I feel this had a pretty significant impact on me - it showed me I had it in me to pull from this separate well of energy, and that a lot of the time it could even help me unwind after work, even though I was trying to learn and train. After that, it was easier to invest that time in a wider array of exercises, in tackling illustrations that would be spread across several days and weeks, and to generally push beyond the limitations of a salary man. After about 15 months of this, I quit my job, took my savings and funded a 6 month trip to LA to study at Concept Design Academy. The rest is, as they say, history.
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Siqi
3mo
Wow! Thank you for sharing your story, Irshad! I've also been working through the Drawabox lessons (thank you so much for those!!!) so I feel like I'm talking to a celebrity! Thank you for sharing the suggestion to set an end date. That makes a lot of sense as I think about my experience getting through the 250 boxes challenge. It felt SO difficult (and dry, haha) when I started, but having a concrete goal of 250 boxes really helped me to get through it. As you said, I knew it wouldn't be forever. It was such a good experience finishing it and realizing that I completed it in 22 days; when I started I felt like I needed an eternity... I think that would be really helpful for me to apply outside of the drawabox challenges, and I look forward to trying that! I had no idea that you didn't always have an arts career! I really appreciate hearing about people's experiences where they decide to take the leap from a job that they don't actually hate to an arts-related career. Of course it's a scary idea to let go of stability and predictability, but that's why it's so helpful to hear about and see people who have emerged successful on the other side! Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for your amazing Drawabox lessons, Irshad!!! I never thought I would be drawing lobsters and shrimps and crabs but I can see the method behind the "madness"! :)
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Olga Bruser
Hi Siqi I work in the field and I feel the same way (kinda) I still need to work on my fundamentals and I have some personal projects I want to do but it's very time consuming after work I create art for slot games and it's very cool and looks more like casual gaming but I want to take a shot at a more realistic fantasy art. I just realized not too long ago, that I'm in this job for over 4 years, I improved a lot in cartoon and stylized art but not really at what I'd like to do so now I struggle with time management for personal work. I think there's no easy solution but to have specific time in a week you know you can sit down without any distraction and work for yourself. I know about myself that if I was more disciplined, I could have improved 3 times more faster... and now I need to analyze what things can I sacrifice in a day so I could have more time for my art. It's also hard to balance it with life and not to burn out. I don't get stressed as much as I used to so I'm able to enjoy other things without feeling guilty but I sure do have to work on scheduling and having a proper deadline. I know people usually rush to the result and want to able to produce art as fast as possible (I did... ) but we shouldn't skip steps and it's better to take the time to do things properly. Good luck to us all Just keep learning, creating and focus on the present. Enjoy the journey and you'll get there eventually, It takes a lot of patience and remember to have fun! if it isn't fun, what's the point right?
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Siqi
3mo
Hi Olga! Thank you for sharing, it is such a great reminder of our tendency to think that the grass is greener on the other side. It makes total sense that people with art jobs don't get to pursue their passion projects all the time while at work! It really is hard to not get impatient, but it has been helpful reminding myself to take time to look at previous work and notice the progress that's been made. Celebrating progress and having fun are certainly essential for the long term!
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Martijn Punt
Hi @Siqi, I love drawing and art and I also have a job unrelated to art, plus I have kids and general adult stuff I have to take care of on a daily basis. This leaves me with less time for art than I would like to have. One of the things that helped me the most to gain time is to always carry a sketchbook, I use this a lot when I'm waiting somewhere (for example when I bring my kids to sport practice), or during lunch at work. Most of my drawings are made in this way to be honest and I usually manage to draw each day. I also notice that it takes me about 5 minutes to get into the drawing zone. Sometimes I feel tired/reluctant to start, but I never regret it afterward. Don't stress/push yourself in the beginning, it doesn't have to be good, you don't have to show it to other people, you don't have to draw for hours. You will get into a habit of drawing over time and you will spend more time drawing as you progress, and now I get nervous when I don't draw for a couple of days. Another thing I did was to go weekly for a 3 hour drawing/painting class at an atelier, that's my time that's booked in advance and is non-negotiable. For me it was helpful to have this external thing to have a teacher motivate you, rather than it only being your own motivation that is driving you. Most importantly try to have fun!
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Siqi
3mo
Hi Martijn! That's a good point about a sketchbook. I just put one into my bag but I haven't used it yet. I think part of it is a fear of judgment from others, but of course, it's mostly my self-judgment! I'm glad to hear that you are able to squeeze some time in for art despite a career AND kids. That gives me hope! I have been thinking about local ateliers/classes as well, exactly for the reason you mentioned. Plus potentially just having more artist friends! Hopefully I'll be able to find one in my area!
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Uku Kivisild
Hi Siqi, I feel the same as a lot of people here and have found that trying to do too much has given me 'time anxiety' where I see every minute I am not doing something as being wasted. I got serious with my art practice in January and since then trying to fit it into my 55 hour work week (food industry) resulted in me spending all my free time drawing or thinking about drawing. I would recommend try to catch yourself early if you start worrying about every minute going by and just try to enjoy the learning process without too much thinking about whether you are doing enough. Also, I feel I am better at giving this advice than listening to it because it has been a struggle to deal with the stress but find what works for you. In terms of art goals, I also think since your practice time is limited, the best thing to do is establish what you most enjoy about art and other artists and what you want to do with it... You won't be able to learn everything because you'll likely become meh at all of it rather than really good at the one thing you actually enjoy. Again that is easier said than done, I still want to do everything perfectly but I am going to just accept I am not going to have time to draw perfect city scenery in perspective because my focus is faces and figures. I am not going to learn concept art because I just want to draw for fun not for a living..etc. Once you figure out a goal it will hopefully be easier to make big steps towards them without getting distracted by everything else around you, which will in turn save you probably years in the long run. Sorry to ramble, hope it makes sense and don't get time anxiety like me!
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Siqi
4mo
Hi Uku, fellow traveller! Thank you for sharing! 55 hours is really a lot and kudos to you for keeping up the art practice despite those long hours! You make a good point about enjoying the process rather than going for the outcome. That's always a balance in any endeavor and I'm sure it'd be a struggle even if we had all the time in the world to draw. I've also thought about art goals, and I felt the pressure to specialize so I can become good at one/a few specific things, as you suggested. However, I'm currently exploring a bunch of things and maybe in the future I'll settle on a few more specific things. I've also been thinking about whether I just want to focus on the process and draw for fun forever (in which case, it doesn't really matter if I don't become great at producing outcomes), or whether producing really good art is what matters to me. Only time and experience will tell!
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Alberto Grubessi
Hi Siqi, i'm very much in the same position as you. Right now i'm in my final year at university studing Management and i started drawing seriousy during my first year, indeed it is a struggle to work/study and draw and to balance everything is very difficult but there are some things that can help. First of all, try to find a time period where you are not as tired in my case for example i go to sleep around 10/11 pm and wake up at 6:30 am so that i can draw about 1-2 hours everyday, but before covid i used to wake up at 5:30 am so that i could go to classes comfortably. Also a big advice is DO NOT sit back on the couch, the moment you sit on the couch you lost because is so comfortable that you will need a strong will to stand up and go to draw. With time you will learn what is suitable with your lifestyle, so don't give up and continue to draw, when it becomes an habit it's easier
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Siqi
4mo
Hi Alberto! Kudos to you for keeping up the practice for years! I'm sure that has been a challenge! I have quite a similar schedule to the one you proposed. I enjoy having a few hours to draw before I start work, while my brain is fresh. I actually don't have a couch so that's not an issue for me, haha!
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Konstantinos Christofi
Hello Siqi!!! I am a doctor from Cyprus, studying in Greece in my first year of medical residency, second year of training after medical school overall. i started drawing as an amateur in my final year of medical school and it was indeed hard to find the time and energy, but the emotional reward was indeed something else. A few years later its the same story. Long working hours, lack of sleep, studying of other subjects can indeed take their toll. That being said I do love drawing very much so one way or another I am gradually building a system in order to be able to keep drawing and even improving over time. I am glad to see that there are other people in the same boat.
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Siqi
4mo
Hi Konstantinos! Thank you for sharing and introducing yourself! It's super cool to hear about your experience. I'm not in medicine, but I'm in a very similar field to yours so there's a lot I could relate to. Kudos to you for maintaining that art practice despite having a busy schedule! I know it's a challenge to find the time and energy for art learning but it can be very rewarding nad enjoyable indeed! Do you have any art goals you're aiming for? How do you envision art as a part of your life going forward? I don't know anyone with a professional job (especially one like medicine that demands a lot of time and energy) who also does art on the side, so I'm always curious how art fits into their lives.
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Yiming Wu
I'm now a graduate student... Yeah things gets busy but I guess I'm in a better position than when I have to go to work in a job. It's hard to find time to do art that requires a long duration to finish :/
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Siqi
4mo
Grad school is hard! I'm not sure about your experience, but my grad school was not great for work-life balance, which is a big reason why I didn't do much art for many years. So kudos to you for making time for art still! You bring up a good point about finding time for art that needs a long time to finish. I've been thinking about the same thing, and I'm wondering if I need to prioritize increasing my speed, or focus more on styles that don't take as much time (e.g., flat-colour illustrations instead of thoroughly rendered pieces). I'm not sure yet... and I suppose I'll only know if I try it!
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Gannon Beck
It's tough. It's especially tough to do art at the end of the day when you're tired. What I did was I started getting up early and doing art before work. To make sure I got out of bed, I scheduled time with a friend. It helps to have the extra incentive of knowing someone else is going to show up to get my butt in gear. We do it three times a week during the work week and once on the weekend in the evening. We meet online two hours before I start my day job. We've been doing it for almost two years and it works. We started with two of us, but we've since had two other artists that have been joining us regularly. Sometimes I get to work on my own projects in the evening, but if I'm not up for it, I know I have time set aside.
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Siqi
4mo
I agree, I've been doing exactly that - getting up early to get some art practice done before work (like right now!). Thankfully I've always been a morning person, so that hasn't been a struggle. I'm impressed though, that you've established a circle of artist friends to do this together with. How were you able to do that?
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Moonless_Sky
Hi Siqi! You nailed the daily struggle of a want-to-be-artist :D I'm in the same boat. Extra working hours make it very difficult to keep up art while still doing sports, cleaning, keeping track of the garden... Life sometimes is overwhelming xD I do not know your daily routine but I did one thing that brought me a lot of time: I got rid of my TV. In the beginning it was very awkward to not have one. But now I do not have a TV for 8 years and I don't miss him :D It's so tempting to just throw yourself on the sofa but this does not make happy. Also I started to keep an eye for the hours I use my Smartphone. I try to use it less than an hour per day. This is important, because our brain needs time to rest and recover from all the impulses and superimposing informations you get all day long. When you do this you will feel very bored which is an unpleasent feeling. But that's when creativity starts to hit you :) Getting bored it very necessary for our brain. So I take my time to get bored :D Meditation helps to boost creativitiy too and helps to refill your batteries after a long day (no joke, it's scientifically proven that meditation has a lot of positive effects on our health). With all these measures I can provide to not loose track of my needs. And since creating is a basic need a human has, it really helps to give this impulse the room necessary for it's growth :)
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Siqi
4mo
Hello there! (That's Orihime in your profile picture, yes?) Glad to meet a fellow passenger in the boat! It really does get to be a lot sometimes with all the life things, and keeping that body healthy! I actually never had a TV, so thankfully I don't need to make that transition! Less than an hour on the phone though... that's impressive. I think I spend 1-2h on my phone, but I suppose I'd better find out! My first reaction to the idea of cutting back on phone use is "but I want to relax and have fun!" since my work is so hard on my brain. I guess I should probably scale back a bit on the art skills practice and do more fun stuff. That's hard to put in practice for me because I feel like I'm so behind on skills already, but well... sustainability is the goal I guess, haha!
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