Ask the Art Prof: How Can a Visual Artist Balance their Life?

Final Crit

“How can an artist balance their life?”

There are so many aspects and responsibilities to being an artist, and balancing them is often times a logistical nightmare.  Know that finding that balance is a constant work in progress which you will always have to work at. I don’t know anyone in the field who isn’t constantly troubleshooting how to make things work for them.

The ultimate challenge for most artists is how to get is those periods of solitary, uninterrupted time to work. Life is full of distractions, and finding pockets of time to work is the most difficult. Then when you finally make it to the studio, there’s the pressure to actually accomplish something with that precious time.

Making the artwork is just one facet of being an artist.  Unless you’re independently wealthy or you’re an internationally renowned artist, there is a very long laundry list for artists. You essentially have to be your own accountant, publicist, agent, installer, webmaster, etc.  I’m always filling out applications year-round for artist grants, artist residencies, and jobs. Documenting my work with high quality images is always ongoing. Storage is a constant issue for many artists. Writing is important: writing cover letters, grant applications, and artist statements. Finances are a concern, in terms of doing taxes, purchasing materials and being able to rent studio space. Networking, both in person (attending events, artist lectures, openings) and online (social media) is absolutely critical to securing exhibitions, jobs, and other opportunities.  Maintaining a website and/or blog is also becoming increasingly necessary to survive now as an artist.

These tasks can be just as time consuming as making the work itself, and all of them are ongoing.  I have times where I’m so overloaded with these tasks that I don’t have time to get to the studio. You have to figure out what works for you. I try to isolate my studio work to when I’m physically in the studio. When I’m in the studio, I get rid of all potential distractions (I turn off my phone) and focus exclusively on making the work.  I keep the other tasks (marketing, promotion, documentation, etc.) to when I have down time at home, which is generally late at night after the dishes are done and the laundry is folded.

At times it can be very, very hard to find this balance.  I’ve certainly had my share of frustrating, unproductive sessions in the studio where I accomplished nothing with that precious time. Usually my strategy for figuring out what to do next is to ask myself “Where is the emergency?” What is the task that I’ve been neglecting? That’s usually the best way for me to figure out what needs to be addressed next. If you constantly ask yourself this question, it will lead the way.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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One thought on “Ask the Art Prof: How Can a Visual Artist Balance their Life?

  1. Am so grateful to have visited this site.i stay in kenya(africa).ok i have not attended any art school in my life but i can produce an art that captures both the mind heart of the viwers.i was moved deeply about how to come up with your own style as an artist.honestly i have tried out may styles and finaly i was able to come up with one i.e the rough texture one by use chacoal and my cutomers love each piece i make

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