View Full Version : Keeping Your Spirits Up

09-23-2003, 04:34 PM
How do people keep their spirits up when:

You are working at home alone, nothing is selling (yet), you're not sure how well your art is going, you feel like you are struggling with almost everything, working every hour you can manage but it never seems like it's enough? How to find hope when it seems like "things" aren't going well? I have very high standards too, and get very frustrated with many things, spending many hours on details of one photo for one ad for example, falling farther and farther behind on some schedule I set for myself. How can I one just relax and get into the flow and enjoy work without the anxiety or discouragement? :( :confused: :crying:

Here are some of *my* answers:
- Talking to a trusted person that has faith in you.
- Taking a hike in the boonies can refresh the spirit.
- Playing with the dog. Arf!
- Making some progress on something that IS going well can boost the confidence again.
- Getting out into the world of people and commerce and talking with strangers, doing transactions, playing the game, being on the stage of life.

The common element is a change in the state of mind. If you try and change your state of mind through better circumstances, you are wagging the dog, and this can lead to greater frustration. You know: "if only I can make enough money then I will be happy and at peace.." etc. Yeah for about 10 minutes you're "happy" and then it's off to the races. We have goals for the future, and that's good, but real life happens in the Now. So if one can just find that "switch" in the head that says "yes" to life - creating what you want to feel - you've found the answer. :clap:

Enuf said

09-23-2003, 09:12 PM

My own (apparently) self contradictory two-pronged approach is:

1. Don't worry about spirits, high, low, or indifferent. I make a written plan for creating and marketing my work and then follow through on it for a specified period of time, whether I feel good about it or lousy.

That frees me from the roller coaster ride, at least somewhat. And it means I get the work done even when I'm in a bad mood about it, because now it's just a job and I can be detached from it all.

2. When I feel really down about my work it helps a lot to pull out old portfolios and slides from three or four or more years ago. It's work I'm no longer close to, may have even forgotten about, and I almost always find it reassuring and encouraging.

Good luck. It's hard to do this on your own.


09-24-2003, 04:38 AM
I have learned the hard way to let things go. I try to set myself time limits for things like preparing ads and just do it. Do it to a reasonable quality and then, and only then, start fiddling if I have time. Always keep in mind the limitations of the medium (ie. nothing will look perfect).

If I'm really down I get away from my work. I avoid the studio (or space at home, I used to have my work area at home) like the plague. Go out to galleries, exhibitions, movies, window shopping, visiting friends, sitting in the park with a book, etc. Usually it works out that I just needed time off and hadn't realised it! Part of working for ourselves is that our work is so all-encompassing in our lives that we forget to have days off like normal people get to. In fact, when I get away like this I usually get some ideas for new artwork too.

I think this discussion is most relevent for the Creative Strategies forum, so I'm going to redirect it there. I do think it's a nice topic to discuss right now in the business forums too though, since auctions seem to be down. So I'm going to leave the re-direct here for people to see. :)


09-24-2003, 12:00 PM
I think it's super to set goals for yourself, but I don't think they should be carved in stone. And if you're not selling and HAVE to be, that is pretty scary. If I were in that situation, I would be paralyzed, unable to "let go", relax and flow with the work. If I were in that situation, I personally would get a part-time job and plan to lower my output until I started selling consistently enough not be be anxious about the money.

And that would also take care of the isolation feeling and force you to walk away from art to clear your head a bit.

At least that's how I would feel...

09-24-2003, 04:50 PM
Originally posted by RobinZ
...If I were in that situation, I personally would get a part-time job and plan to lower my output until I started selling consistently enough not be be anxious about the money...

Believe me, that has occurred to me. I'm not dumb. But of course none of you know my situation or what I've done in the past or what I am trying to do.

I was a computer consultant for 13 years, then had a corporate job as a "creative" person (what a joke - there was no room for creativity allowed in their mentalities), quit it. Among dozens of other jobs and ventures I've tried. I also tried academia (studied philosophy for about 20 years - another long gory story) I don't think it's worth it to come home totally washed out, just wanting to crawl into bed, putting up with the ignorance, fear, stupidity and craziness of the workplace to get a paycheck. It's not worth it.

Why do you think I am trying to make a living selling on eBay, and doing art, and working for myself? You think there is a better way? If there is I'd like to hear it.

We all "have to" sell something. It might as well be something you want to do, even if it's seems like a big risk, and there are days when you have doubts or feel stresses. But keep it in perspective. You have your freedom. What's more valuable than that?

Sure, I could spend 8 hours a day looking for a decent job for the next year, or get a job as a clerk in an art store with a bunch of 20-something artist wannabe's half my age listening to blaring rock music all day, but in the meantime, I'd be not doing my art, not advancing in my eBay marketing, not doing what I want with my life, and helping make some AH richer doing something way beneath my skill level. Does that make sense? Makes more sense to make *some* money now, be learning as an artist and businessperson and building something worthwhile for myself. No time to lose.

Stoy Jones
09-24-2003, 10:05 PM
I can't say much about Ebay, since my work is more appropriate for ad agencies and publishers, but if I were to balance my whole reason for creating on selling, then I would have done what my mother would say, "give up, you are only one out of a million who are all doing the same thing that you are trying to do."

When my work gets rejected, it causes me to ponder those words and it also causes me to check the employment paper. Yes, I do work a blue-collar job and I'm not nuts about it. If I could force an ad agency to hire me, I would do it in a heartbeat. Create my own, perhaps I would if I had a brother (like Walt Disney who put his visions in the hands of his brother Roy who was savvy in the realm of banks and finance).

I don't have such trustworthy siblings who could help me to carry my work further. I don't give up. I have had jobs fall into my lap out of the blue and if I had made a vow not to create based on my last rejection, I would be first in line to kick myself.

I'm content to learn and work hard and pursue what I'm capable and pound that pavement. If my check is coming from elsewhere and if my work isn't selling, well, those days happen. I have had better.

Personally, I have to measure my success on whether I'm listening to myself and acting on that desire to create. If I don't and base my talent on someone elses interest or lack of interest in my work, I'd be denying myself my most basic need to create. Just my circumstances and personal view. Very interesting thread.


09-25-2003, 01:14 AM
Well, right after art school, I worked for a number of years as a crest designer, a low paying, but fun job, one where you could leave the work at work. I did it for 2 years full-time, but then asked for part-time, 2 or 3 days a week... & did that for about 13 years. I made some life-long artist friends there.

In the meantime, I was learning, painting & getting into galleries. I took a workshop here & there, not just to learn more, but also for networking. Networking is absolutely vital. Not just for finding out what opportunities are out there, but for your own sanity. We need people, & in our case, we need other artists. They're the only ones who truly understand what this life is like. They can be an inspiration.

I worked for a couple of years part-time at a gallery that I also exhibited in, again forging friendships with art-related people, as well as learning the customer service end. I've read all kinds of books on art marketing, & have taken seminars in that, as well... marketing for the fine artist.

Long walks help, going to galleries help, as well as art books & really good friends who support me. But in the end, you have to do the work alone. And I've found that the best way to really lift my spirits is to find out who I am, know myself well. Know what I need & when I need it.

It took a marriage breakup, a bout of anxiety attacks, two dedicated sessions with the Artist's Way, many galleries & exhibitions to get where I am, still painting, still on course. I don't know what I would do if I never sold... it's still a meager existence, but I'm living a happy life. I don't have any regrets so far, & I'm 46 now.

Wetcanvas can really help too. I've found some life-long friends here, & have learned a lot... as long as I'm learning, I know I'm on the right track. :)

I guess this long-winded post comes down to this: know yourself. Know what you can handle, be realistic, know what you can sacrifice. As someone mentioned, a plan can help. I enter shows/galleries knowing that the deadlines mean that I have to produce. You have to be able to get along with yourself, whether you have successful sales or not. As an artist, this has to be one of the most important things in order to survive.

09-25-2003, 01:56 AM
Hehehe... Eric, I just read some of your writings, & I realize that you already know yourself pretty well. ;)

Good luck on your journey. Be happy. :)

09-25-2003, 11:38 AM
Zeph, when I commented that I, PERSONALLY, would handle HAVING to make money by working part time, I wasn't assuming you were dumb. Sorry if you thought I was implying that.

Do whatever works for you.

PERSONALLY, like I said, I've found I CAN"T create when I am anxious, and working outside 4 hours a day would and 4 -6 hours painting would make me less anxious about money and more creative and productive.

I can't paint 12 hours a day as it is. If I try to work for real long stretches, I turn out crap. If I paint, step away and do anything else, then come back to it, I do much better. That's me. Do whatever works for you. Hope it's going better today. :)

09-25-2003, 07:03 PM
Zeph, you sound like a highly intelligent, full of thought person. My advice may sound so simple, but it has worked for me. First of all give yourself a break, there comes a point where being driven and hard on oneself does nothing but frustrate and depress us (been there done that).

I live by faith in the Almighty. (won't get into that) But I have found positive brings positive and negative brings negative. Try not to focus on all of the frustrations and things that aren't working like we would like them to, but rather, focus on daily accomplishments whether they be big or small.

It is hard to give advice to you when I don't really "know" you, but I hope this helps, it all comes from a place of caring.

Good Luck!

09-26-2003, 02:18 PM
Well, thanks all for your kind replies. RobinZ, I know you didn't mean it personally. I apologize for my stupid comment. I was just having one of those mornings - you know, the ego smashing around, making a racket in the head.

Anyway, I had a good day, then an OK day. It's all thought-generated. But I still haven't gotten any bids on my art :(

Yes, getting a part time job seems logical, but I jut can't seem to bring myself to do it. I used to make $75 an hour as a consultant, and $24 as a web designer at a software company (and tried to split my time between the computer business and creative projects like art - didn't work too well because I couldn't do justice to either), and I talked to a clerk yesterday in the art store where I buy supplies. He makes $7.50 an hour! That's 1/10th. I don't think I could bring myself to do that. It just seems like such a waste of time. Sure, I could meet people, but there has to be a better way to meet people. Unfortunately, I live in a "cultural desert" (San Diego), even though it's a largish and growing city. I feel pretty isolated here. I don't want to run around to openings unless I'm really doing something I'm proud of.

The thing I'm trying to work out now is what kind of art to do for eBay. Back when I was trying to do real art, after abandoning academic philosophy and fidning a passion and Zen-like creative burst in the art realm, I had in mind the New York gallery scene, making a contribution to the advance of art, the art-historical perspective, the art world, that kind of thing. I studied with a well-known artist, and her famous husband (who is having a huge retrospective here now) who said my work was "terrific". But I never made it out of my home town, and never could find time to develop my art far enough and had to give up on that dream in the struggle for survival here. So now, about 13 years later, after trying to find a happy niche in the computer world and not finding it, overcoming a major bout with depression, and being told I'm an "artist" (by temperament and skills I guess) by people I met in the work world... I'm just trying to make some money, seeing if I can do what I see some fine artists do: do a style for the galleries (potentially - haven't been able to start on it yet) and a simpler, faster style to sell on eBay. But when I start to paint, I find the old interests coming in and wanting to make really fine art - putting my whole soul into it. I was told my art was very spiritual. So I'm trying to find a style I can paint in and be happy doing that sells. The very difficult abstractions I used to do are not appropriate for this market and were very intense in terms of time and energy. They also had a lot of subtle content and required some background education to appreciate: not just pretty pictures. Also I don't feel I ever learned to paint as well I need to: I'm good with color and am an excellent and inventive drawer, but need to practice a "realistic" painting style to see what it can add to my art. Just seems so boring, so old-fashioned.

I figure if I just keep trying I'll get into it eventually. A friend suggested I always have two canvases and when I get ideas for the high-level stuff, put it on that canvas.

Action leads to new territory, discovery.

There must be some way that I can put my education to use. But I figure of I can knock out some craft-like artwork, like what I sell for decent prices on eBay, and have fun doing it and the ads, then what difference does it make if I don't write that philosophy book or make that contribution to culture in the art realm? You live, enjoy, then you die. All the rest is just made up BS (the false self) so that we can try and feel superior because of some percieved lack. Or can be. Some of high-culture is worthwhile. But being a nobody is a perfectly happy condition. Which reminds me - I was thinking of taking a hike in the mountains today.

Trying to make a living on eBay can be n 16-hour a day job, especially when first starting, so there isn't much time - you really have to commit, not be plagued by doubts.

OK, enough whining and wheezing for now, time to get my day started. Sorry for any poorly-constructed sentences this morning.