All things in balance? As if!
One of the hardest things for a self-employed artist to manage is work/life balance.
If you’re like me, art is life. When people ask me why I do what I do I have two standard answers. One is I wouldn’t know what else to do and the other is making art is like breathing. If I don’t do it, I die.
My husband has a “real” job. He gets up to the alarm, shaves and puts on work clothes, packs a lunch and drives 45 minutes on a good day to an office. he also gets a regular paycheck, benefits and paid vacation.
My office is off the living room. No commute. I could work in my pjs if I wanted to. (I don’t though) I never know how much I will earn month to month and no one pays for me to be sick, take a vacation or any of that other stuff.
Up until a few years ago I was earning a nice living doing what I do. Then the economy tanked, POD publishers are a dime a dozen and contracts that used to pay $5000 are now squeezing artists to accept harsher terms at $2000 or less. The amount of time and work for these jobs hasn’t decreased, and in many cases has increased as the clients demand miniscule revisions because almost everything is done digitally now. What used to be impossible in a final painting is now not only possible, but expected.
The upshoot of this is artists are having to take on more work to make the same money they used to. Which means longer hours. Which means less time for everything else.
I used to not work on the weekends. I reserved them for time with my family and personal projects. People used to respect this. Now there is email and Facebook messaging and twitter. If you (Gods forbid) unplug for the weekend, you chance coming back to work on Monday morning with an irate email or two in your inbox because it took you longer than a few hours to respond. It’s crazy!
So what is an artist to do? I’ve taken to scheduling blocks of time with projects I can work on during the week, and other projects I can do while my family is home so I can spend some quality time with them. The problem is I have so much to do, not all of it is getting done. I could give up eating and sleeping, but everyone knows that never ends well.
If anyone has found a workable solution, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment!
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