Saturday, October 15, 2011

Studio "jobs"

As I mentioned in several recent posts, I have been thinking a lot lately about managing my time and balancing the various obligations that come from what you might call my different "jobs" or roles.

I am an artist
I am a mother
I am a teacher
and I have to be a self-marketer and a publicist for my own work. (Isn't this the part about being an artist that all artists hate?)

I probably have a few smaller roles, too, like homeowner, wife, board member and some that are harder to define.

I spend a lot of time thinking about balancing the first three. The role of teacher stays tightly defined because I go to a different place to do that one, away from the distractions of all the others. The role of mother comes with a noisy, energetic reminder of my responsibilities.

a messy responsibility

However, the role of the self-marketer and publicist compete for my attention with the role of artist. I have to track, inventory, price, pack and transport my work. I also have to apply for shows and promote myself and my work, but if given the choice, I don't think I would ever voluntarily pick any of those tasks over the option of making new work.

building in progress

In the summer, my "studio" time obviously includes throwing or building time, underglazing and surface decorating time, firing time, glazing time, cleaning time and clay recycling time. I don't relish cleaning and recycling clay, but they have to get done. If I don't do them, it isn't long before I am forced to do them because of a lack of clay or a lack of surface area.

my studio before the summer "building season" (aka winter storage)

However, in planning my art work time, I also have to account for the time I spend on the odds and ends that are required to be a professional artist: photographing work, naming and pricing work (why does this always take more time than I want it to?), filling out and submitting applications (I remember how important this is now that I've missed a deadline for a show I'm usually in), filing time and paperwork (if I could see my desk, I might not have missed the deadline), planning, packing work, and keeping track of work and supply inventory.

Often, because they are not priority jobs, I get around to most of these "office" type jobs shortly before deadlines force me to do them. I name and price works just before I take them to a show or clean my desk when I realize a deadline is approaching. I don't expect that this is much different for anyone else who has a similar second job or hobby.

Unfortunately, the solution is pretty obvious even if it isn't much fun to implement. I just need to set aside time to do these things (ha ha, I "just" need to set aside time). I could write a list of things to do. I could designate 3pm on Thursdays for getting the work done. I could set a goal for the week or the month. I could give myself a reward or hold back a luxury (like chocolate) until I finish whatever task it is. All of these are probably fine strategies but all of them require me to find time to do the work I don't like to do and then to actually DO the work I don't like to do.

This month I managed to force myself to make business cards (of course, making business cards is kind of fun), and I started naming my pieces (not quite as fun), but I haven't started pricing them (not fun at all). I also haven't gotten around to setting out the pieces I will have in this winter's show (because I'm scared).

Really, it makes me physically uncomfortable when I think about tasks I haven't done (and should do) or when I think about whether or not I am prepared for this winter's show. I know the solution is to just walk out to the studio, take out the stuff and see whether I am ready. But if I'm not...

I always find an excuse not to head out there.

So this week's goal: Face my fears. (Go out to the studio. Ignore the excuses. Find the work that will be in this winter's show. and Feel better).


  1. I would like to talk to you more about "breaking into the art world". How do you find out about shows etc. For instance, I would like to find some Christmas events to go and see what the artists are up to.
    How do you market yourself? Can you give some tips/advise/pitfalls to avoid?

  2. I'll work on a post for this.
    The quick answer on the shows is that I don't know much about Christmas /Holiday fairs in this area (I knew them in WI/IA because I was paying attention then/there).
    I just took work to Allied Arts and Oak Hollow for holiday shows. Tomorrow I will bring work to Gallery One in Ellensburg. The simple answer is you go tell them who you are and ask to show your work. The more complex answer is that you need to come prepared to do this. I'll spend some more time talking about this and post soon. (or talk to you in person sooner.)

  3. Rachel, have you considered making a ceramic horn,,,, that bell shaped form looks like it would really boast out the sound.


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