Do you ever feel like once art becomes your job, or you start trying to make it your job, it stops being fun? That's what I'm going to be discussing in this post.
Everyone wants to have a job they love. The problem is, how can you have a job you love when, once something, no matter what it is, becomes your job, you don't love it anymore.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I want to stop painting or drawing. Nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfillment than finishing a piece. I just find it hard to enjoy the actual process.
How Can We Make Art Fun Again
I would really like to get in the habit of, while I'm working on a painting or drawing, of just being in that moment and really enjoying the process, saving the judgement and evaluations until after I'm done with that session.
I mentioned this before, but I think art has the power to lift our spirits. I've also talked about other ways I think we can enjoy art more, such as not judging ourselves and eliminating distractions. A lot of times I like to listen to something, music, an audiobook, a podcast, when I'm painting and drawing. However, I really encourage you to refrain from checking your phone when painting or drawing.
I remember as a child, I would sometimes make six or seven paintings in one day, one after another. I don't see myself doing that now because I spend more time on each individual piece, but the point was that I just painted for the joy of painting and I didn't worry about how each piece might come out.
Speaking of the joy of painting, one of my favorite things to do as a kid was episodes of Bob Ross and try to recreate whatever he was painting with my crayons.
Why Does Having Art As A Job Suck The Joy Out Of It?
When art is a hobby, you don't have to worry about whether something's good or not. Nothing's at stake. You're not losing potential money or clients.
At the same time, I don't think we should worry, while we're in the process of making something, whether or not it will make us money. Chances are that three out of every four pieces you make won't sell anyway. Paint what you're interested in. If we choose projects because we think they'll make us a buck, that will show in our work.
I don't think anyone has ever admired someone who's sole, or even main, motivation for doing what they do, is money.
I can feel shallow talking about wanting to make money off my art, but we all need money to survive and function in this world and there's nothing wrong with wanting to get it from something you're passionate about and would do anyway.
A problem that can come with having art as a job, is it becomes a "have to", instead of a "get to". Things you have to do are never as much fun as things you get to do. So maybe a key to enjoying art after it becomes your job, is to switch your mindset from, "I have to paint" to "I get to paint".
Other Artists' Thoughts
I asked other artists for their thoughts on this topic and here are some of them.
"I think the main thing is to make sure your doing at least some artwork purely for yourself.
For example, if you're working a 9-5 artistic job, creating commissioned pet portraits or teaching art
it can be all too easy to slip into ONLY creating art within the boundaries of that job description.
I think you need to set time aside to make the art that you WANT to make, even if it's only for an hour a week!!
Keep the love alive by feeding your own visions! not for your boss, not for a client, not for your audience. Take risks and keep playing!"
"I totally agree with Cass, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" comes to mind.
It is so important to set time aside for your own personal projects and experiments.
You don't want art to become a daily grind, it also needs to be a creative outlet.
If the only pieces you create are for business (commissions, pieces to sell etc)
you'll be limited on what personal pieces you make where you can really practice and experiment...
things that are vital for artistic growth and development."
"The mindset is very essential. If you think of art as work and something you have to get done
and that's the only way you think of it, it's very easy to forget about the reason you're doing it in the first place.
It's good to take your art seriously when it's your job, but constantly remind yourself of why you love it
and focus on enjoying the process instead of the pressure. Find the things that motivate you to create--
looking at other art and artists, going for walks, doing random sketches, whatever it might be.
And every once and a while create something for yourself without worrying what everyone else thinks.
Even in your business, don't feel pressured to create things just because everyone seems to want it.
You can do that to a degree, but know your limits and don't make it ruin art for you"
The Art Lark
"This topic has been heavy on my mind lately. I have a full time day job,
and I recently started diving very heavily into art and have been doing
it every single day instead of once in a while. I was very excited in the beginning -
right off the bat I started offering commissions for pet portraits.
I started promoting myself and have gotten quite a few people wanting paintings,
which is what I wanted, but now I'm not so sure. I discovered colored pencils recently
and have reaallly enjoyed them and want to master them, but I have all of these commissions
to do plus 40 hours per week at my day job. I haven't been spending as much of my free time
on the commissions as I should, I've been exploring colored pencils and I've started other paintings.
which has made me feel guilty. I dont like that. I dont like having those kinds of feelings associated
with something i am passionate about. I invested in acrylic pouring supplies in hopes of being able to
knock out paintings quickly... but I'm really not sure how to work myself up to full time artist,
although I think that is what I want? I'm almost considering not offering commissions anymore because
it just feels like I have two jobs now (I suppose I dread my day job infinitely more).
I guess I am confused about where to go with this, how to make art my life and not eventually start to hate it.
Seems like if it's not my full time job then I barely have the time for it."
My Final Thoughts
I can definitely relate to the thing about looking at other art and artists. I really like to watch biographical documentaries on on artists. That seems to always make me want to get to the easel and start painting.
I also think experimenting is extremely important. I even think you have to be willing to get worse if you really want to get better as an artist. If you only ever do what you know looks good, you'll never find out what could look great. There are things I've tried that I won't try again because they looked bad.
Also challenging myself, asking myself, can I do this, can I capture this, what happens if I do this, etc, is fun for me. That's what I did with my current piece. That's not easy angle, you know.
I would like to explore colored pencils and pastels more, but I'm not confident with these mediums. I know if I try a serious project with these, such as a portrait, I'm likely to not be happy with it, and that's scary.
Don't judge a piece too early, though. When it came to the piece I'm currently working on,
I didn't like the way it was coming out at first, but that was because it needed to have the darker shades added to it to make it come out. I think adding the black background, which I made with a compressed charcoal stick, by the way, really added oomph. What I'm saying is, I really like this piece now and it's all because I gave it time.
Ultimately, if art is your job, you'll have to do it regularly, whether you feel like it or not. You have to show up for work, just like any job and even if you're passionate about something, there will be times you just don't feel like doing it.
In conclusion, experiment, paint what you're interested in, and stay motivated by looking at other artists' work.
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Painter of portraits and wildlife