Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Art, Video Games, and Procrastination

Today Monkey will talk a little bit on art and time and procrastination:

So if you've ever asked me "how busy are you," I'll usually go into some long-winded tirade on working 5 days a week, going to school 2 days a week, and then fitting in art, Monkey + Seal business stuff, planning a craft show, trying to write a novel, a zine/book on wedding invitations, get freelance illustration/graphic design/craft work, and spending time with Eve. Actually, I guess that is the tirade. Anyway, yes, I do a lot, and I naturally keep piling things up on my plate of things to do. Ask Eve and she'll tell you that I have problems just relaxing and not doing anything.

But, you don't care about any of that, you just want to know how to make more time for your art. Well, to be perfectly blunt about it all, you have to learn to prioritize your life. If you want to make it as a successful artist, you have to constantly be drawing. If you don't draw, then you need to be rehearsing your violin, or researching different materials to sculpt, or you need to be making soap as often as you can. Even I often say "oh, I don't have time," but really, you have a choice. If you really want something (like to hang out with a friend or to see a concert), you need to make time for it. Sometimes, this will lead to sleepless nights where you're exhausted at 6am but you still need to fix the colors in your print file that's due in three hours.

However, I find that the greatest amount of time is time spent procrastinating. From browsing blogs to playing facebook games (like that damn Vampire Wars and Bejeweled Blitz), I truthfully waste a lot of time. I also play Improbable Island (if you decide to play, sign up from that link I gave you and I'll get referral points...wait, what the hell am I doing?), which is another great time sink.

The point of the matter is that I probably spend at least an hour or two playing those dumb games per day. I also spend maybe 30 min to 1 hr reading every day. That adds up to up to three hours of my day that isn't taken up by work or art or anything productive. Now I'm not saying that you need to give up your facebook games, or stop reading, or anything like that. But it's all about management. Play less. Read for only 15 min a day. Cut back. This frees up a surpising amount of time. I used to play World of Warcraft, and as much as I love that damn addicting game, I would lose myself in it for hours at a time. Eventually, I just had to cancel my account as if I wanted to keep making art at a decent level I had to give it up. I'm now working on cutting back my online time to only an hour per day.

So games aren't the end of the world - if I didn't have a little bit of a stress-reliever, I'd go nutso. But it's all about moderation.

If you can't kick the habit (or even if you do), the trick then becomes to maximize the use of idle time. If you have a bus ride to and from work or school, if you have a seat, you can use that time to draw. Or, if you don't want to try and sketch on the shaky bus, stay up an extra 15 minutes to draw the night before and sleep on the bus ride. If you have a 15 minute break at work, are you just hanging out outside your store, or are you in your break room sketching out ideas for paintings? Seal talked about this earlier - make good use of your time.

One of our instructors at AAU managed to get his BFA in Illustration while raising a family and working. Having to take care of a child while taking four classes and working is crazy beyond anything I could ever do, but that shows the determination and excellent time management. As so many professional artists have told me: "draw all the time."

I thought this was sort of ridiculous at first, but as time has progressed, I've realized the truth behind that statement. Yes, you have to be sustainable, and you have to take care of yourself, but if you really want to make it as a commercially-viable professional artist, you have to take the time and prioritize your art.

Looking at yourself and your behavior objectively is never easy, nor is it fun. But you have to figure out what you really want in life, and what you are willing to do to get it. Do you want to be the biggest painter out there? Then paint. What do you want more in life? Getting epic purples in WoW or getting into a gallery? Time is fleeting, so it's up to you to choose wisely.

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