Despite our deepest desires, most artists have to live with a full-time job. The financial necessities of life mean that we often need to balance our creative efforts with job commitments, which can end up costing us in terms of creative inspiration, output, and time spent on our projects.
But despite the obstacles and difficulties, artists can overcome these challenges and possibly even produce their best work while under work obligations! Even if it seems impossible sometimes, remembering to focus on a few guiding principles will help you, your art, and your inevitable rise to massive commercial success!
Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Sometimes, it’s really easy to get caught up in the idea of finishing something. You might have a painting that you’ve been working on for months or an album that you’ve been recording for over a year. It’s hard when you want to complete something so badly, but it just seems unattainably massive. And when work comes into play and takes up 40 hours of your week, your creative goals seem nearly impossible.
But there is a solution! Remember this phrase: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Now hopefully, there’s nobody out there trying to eat an entire elephant, but the principle remains. Taking small but consistent steps over the course of a long time is the best way to reach your creative potential. Your steps can be as small and simple as “Make an outline for a drawing,” “Color correct three photos,” or “Record bass for one song.” Small, simple, and attainable tasks will build upon each other over time and turn into massive progress toward your creative goals.
A massively beneficial step you can take in your creative process is beginning to work with checklists. Studies show that checklists help people remember all their tasks, inspire people to continue, and break down projects into small pieces, aiding in dispersing the feelings of unconfidence.
And best of all, when you break things down into a series of small tasks, you know exactly what to do each when you sit down to work on your project. You don’t need to spend too much time wondering what to do; you can simply do it. Just persevere through the discouragement and take those small steps to success.
Find a Like-Minded Community
The hardest thing for an artist to do is work entirely isolated from other people. Even if you tend to do your best work on your own, having a community of people to get inspiration and companionship from is one of the best things you can do for yourself as an artist. Even the most “lone-wolf” people can benefit from having people around them to show their work to and get encouragement, critiques, and advice from. Having a supportive community can change an artist’s entire world and give them connections and friendships they would never have had otherwise.
When it comes to finding an artistic community, the biggest step is to put yourself out there. In a physical sense, that can mean going to art galleries, shows, exhibitions, and other places where creativity is put on display. You will often find yourself surrounded by existing communities full of people who are interested in and passionate about the same things that you are. Making sure to consistently spend time around those artists is a surefire way to start getting involved in a community that will help you grow and develop your own artwork. And best of all, the odds are good that most of the people in those communities are just like you, working through the challenges that come with being a full-time worker and a part-time artist.
Sometimes finding a community that is geographically and physically close to you can be a real challenge. It may be because of your location in the world or that you’re an introvert, or even a worldwide pandemic. But that too can be overcome, thanks to the modern miracle of social media. There are countless groups for every form of art under the sun on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and countless other online platforms.
Some professional artists are even starting to develop communities around themselves through avenues like Patreon, Discord, and YouTube channels. Those are fantastic ways to get connected with people who you might have never met under any other circumstances but are passionate and excited about the exact same things as you.
Share Your Work Online
This step is something that can seriously help your drive to get creative work done. By consistently sharing the work that you do, you accomplish lots of different things that will help you to continue your growth and development as an artist.
A huge thing that will help you is that you will have more eyes on your art. By making an Instagram or Facebook account for the things that you create, you’re creating a place that centralizes all of your creative work and showcases it. This can help with networking with other creatives, displaying your portfolio, and letting people know that you are an artist who is passionate about their work.
It is important to be intentional about what you post. Make sure that you’re keeping your content and posts fresh and open to all people. It’s often good to make the account for your art separate from your personal account, because separating the art from the artist can enable you to reach more people. Always make sure that your heart is behind everything you post, but don’t be afraid to post something that might put you outside your comfort zone!
Another inspiring thing to remember is that giving yourself a goal of posting consistently also helps you to stay creatively active! By sharing even a small piece of your work on a weekly basis, it gives you a reason to keep on working on your art. It can also be incredibly encouraging to see your page fill up after a while and see your number of posts grow as time goes on. It’s exciting and inspiring to see how your art changes and develops over time and documenting that change can be really beautiful.
Surround Yourself With Inspiration
One of the most important things to being an artist on the side is staying inspired. This can be difficult when your work life comes up around you and takes 40 or more hours of your week. But there are many ways to fight through the discouragement and take bold steps into your future as an artist.
One thing you can do is immerse yourself in forms and genres of art that you don’t necessarily go to every day. Check out some art that you’ve never seen before, or listen to a genre of music that’s always seemed a little “out there” to you. Even if you don’t end up loving what you see or hear, you can almost always find something that will inspire you creatively! Sometimes the most important steps you can take as an artist are the ones that involve putting yourself far outside of your creative comfort zone.
Another huge step towards consistent inspiration is through surrounding yourself with art. At Canvas Cultures, that’s one of our main goals! If you’re a filmmaker or a huge movie buff, we have a huge collection of pieces of art from all of your favorite films, inspiring you to greatness through the achievements of your favorite directors. If inspirational typography is what tends to drive you to do your best, we have a huge selection of impeccably designed canvases made by incredible artists just like you.
And on the off chance that there’s a specific design that you want that we don’t have, you can create a custom canvas. One of the most encouraging things you can do for yourself is put your favorite piece of art up on a wall and take a little bit of time every day to relish in its creative inspiration.
Being a self-made artist with a day job is never simple. It’s easy to look out into the world, see what other people have, and want it for yourself. But most often, the best thing you can do for yourself is to not inspire yourself through jealousy, but rather, through positivity. Fight for what you really think is beautiful, and put in the hard work to create the things that you want to see.
As time goes on and your skills and notoriety increase, you will surely start to see the fruits of all of your creative efforts. Just remember to set goals that benefit you, surround yourself with people who will encourage and inspire you, and surround yourself with art and media that will push you to the edges of your creative bubble.