Artist under pressure

Artist under pressure


I could say that I was always considered myself pretty organized person so during my time at the Academy I really didn’t have this relaxed ’’I can’t do it’’ moments and I was more in the mood ’’Let see what next needs to be done’’. I was most of the time motivated and even though they do not really teach you nor prepare you for after Academy serious business life of an artist and designer I got it really fast, that being professional artist and designer without well-organized workflow is going to be very difficult. I did have challenges of course and it wasn`t always easy going. The past couple of years since I became a professor in the art area and working with really young future artists and designers I noticed that more than ever I hear the sentence’’I can not finish so many tasks’’ or even worse ’’I do not have inspiration nor enough time’’. My face hearing the last sentence is usually the face of shock and then like a real mom I start the lecture. 🙂

But it made me think about it and the fact that tempo and pressure  of living from art and design in digital era can be pretty challenging, so I can not even imagine what could happen to these youngsters when they actually step into their professional area and actually start feeling the pressure of deadlines or making it in the ’’cruel’’ art world. So I thought about the experiment of making some helpful steps to make artist workflow that could be kind of adjustable to our future artists and young talents.

So day just begins full of enthusiasm of course. You’re excited about a new piece of art or creative work and eager to put your ideas into action. Firing up your computer, preparing papers and materials, drinking a coffee (in my case tea)the well-known stream of e-mails and messages pours into your inbox and phone, burying the ones you didn’t get round to replying to yesterday. You are looking at the list and schedule and getting a burst of anxiety but still thinking the day just begin. It will be fine, so I will do the urgent ones. Time passes by and the phone rings. Somebody, of course, wants something from you. Something to do with work from last week.Your search for your notes. You can’t find them.’’I will call you right back ?’’ or ‚‚I will send you a message ASAP.‚‚ Suddenly small heart attack since you accidentally found the paper with the task called ’’I should have finished this while ago.‚‚By now, you’ve only got half an hour before your first meeting and you’ve promised to ring that person back, and messages are still in the line. Your artwork and designs stare at you wondering where exactly are you. The e-mail inbox in the meantime singing around with new messages, and even though you put your phone on silent you can still hear it. Creative work where the hell did that go? And you are thinking ’’I need a life coach’’. Is this a familiar scene for you?

We all know that concentration and inspiration is essential for creative work but how to keep it on the path?

Being organized! Somebody at this moment is thinking ’’No way!’’ Creative work is about freedom, rule-breaking, and inspiration not about this harsh corporate words called structure, discipline and having a strict plan. But is it really like that? If we examine the life of any great artist you will find a great amount of evidence of hard work and discipline. So let the right workflow hit the pressure.

Prioritise ‘important but not urgent’ work

I admit this can be hard to do every day, but it is the only way to ensure you are making progress towards your own goals and dreams, instead of reacting to what other people throw at you. Over time, the more you are dealing with important things before they become urgent, the fewer ‘urgent’ tasks you will have to deal with. The most obvious way to do this is to work on your own personal projects first every day, even if it’s only for half an hour or even 15 minutes. Whatever comes along later, you will at least have the satisfaction and pleasure of making some progress towards your own dreams.

Pick your most creative time of  the day

I read recently some artist column that 8 am to 10 am are his “golden hours” for acting creatively and getting things done.Mine personally is early in the morning when actually everybody else is sleeping. It is your own time and take it on your own terms but also determine stimulus to trigger your creative state. Maybe you have a favorite place where you like to work, or morning ritual, or special pen and notebook whatever works for you. For me it is a cup of tea and smoothie, sometimes exercise but not every time. 🙂

Avoid never ending task

We start the day full of motivation and energy, but by the end of it, we’ve taken on so many new tasks that the to-do list is longer than at the begining of the day. For me, as for everybody I guess the best way to motivate yourself for daily works is to of course enjoy the work. Well, I thought about it and I realize that what gives me energy even better is being on top of my work. When you limit your daily ’’tasks to do’’ you are feeling more engaged to finish them being aware that you actually can do it. Me personally when  I’m faced with an open-ended list of tasks, I can feel a sense of fear and too much responsibility combined with being hopeless and my energy drops. I can even find myself paralyzed when I am faced with some really exciting pieces of work that inspire me if I don’t think there’s time to do them all. So give yourself time to breathe, to keep a clear head and stay focused on your goals. Make a buffer between demands and your response to them.

’’Eat the ugly frog’’

Discipline yourself to handle must-do and so-called unwanted tasks and hard issues begining of each day. Simply “eat the ugliest frog first“. Is there an ugly frog when we talk about creative workflow? Aham, there is. “Ugly frog to be eaten“ for me is the one that either I was avoiding to finish for a client for some period of time, or some part of the work that requires administration, making appointment etc.Trust me everyone has at least one ugly frog per day.

Action steps

Define the parts of the project’s outcome and deadline. I know you hate the word action or step but it is the reallity. Each creative project requires defining the outcome but also steps needed for outcome to be reached. Sometimes it is about time, but mostly it is about actions steps that lead you towards the outcome.

In the end, I know I have chosen to be a designer because I wanted to have freedom and time. One of the best ways to save time is definitely experience. The more experience you have, the more comfortable you are working, and you have developed your own best methods. With experience, you know how to better avoid mistakes and disasters. So always stay hard at what you do ,well organised and you will definitely have feeling of freedom with respectable amount of time.

Experience definitely gives you the opportunity to gain your terms on time.

Creative time at Sagrada Famlia