Art/Life: Monday – Friday

I am so close to releasing the video about planning a timeline for an art exhibition. Behind schedule but still on task, and planning to have that uploaded for this Friday, but in case there are further delays, SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel so you will not miss it when it finally does come out. In the meantime, I recorded a wee video diary over the week I began the research and script for the above mentioned video project:

You’ll see in the video the foreshadowing of future delays on that project. But I really was not thinking of this video as an explainer for my shocking lack of adherence to self-made deadlines. Rather when I recorded it I was thinking about providing a window into my workweek for all the people in my life who don’t have any idea what I do as a full time artist Monday to Friday since I am not producing reams and reams of art like a human printer, or clinking wine glasses at art openings every night.

This diary represents a limited window as my typical workweek does not usually end on Friday, and if I seem tired in the video clips, it is likely because I am; I recorded them at the end of my workday, usually between 10 and midnight. Although I do aim for balance, I don’t always achieve it.

Fellow artists with day jobs and/or young families (believe me I sympathize, I have been there) look wistful while saying “it must be nice to be able to make art all day,” and family simply cannot conceptualize that at middle age I am no longer able to handle being up to 2 am every morning and all weekend to finish writing proposals that I deferred so I could do things with them or for them “because I am just at home in the studio/office anyhow.”

If you are my family and you are reading this, know that I still love you and still love spending time with you, I just can’t be your ‘go to’ person with time during the day. We can visit in the evening or on the weekend, just like we would if I were in an office or shop somewhere Monday to Friday 9-5.

Aside from the assumption that studio time is free time, the idea that as an artist I spend all day making art is misleading as well: As a picture framer (my former day job) I spent all day making picture frames, so the idea that as an artist I would spend all day making art is logical. However I was hired to fulfill the service being sold while the business owner dealt with administration, vision, strategy, and bringing in customers. As an artist I am both the business owner and sole employee. I don’t hire someone to make the art while I concentrate on selling, promoting, marketing, administering etc. etc. etc. Potentially, I could produce a painting a day every day for all 260 working days of the year, if that were the entire scope of my job. However the majority of my week as a working artist is spent on activities that support the studio financially and lead to the opportunity to make artwork. So networking, marketing, developing projects and writing proposals, which may (or may not) result in the creation, exhibition, promotion or sale of artwork.

Hopefully this video gives part-time artists an idea of what to expect when transitioning to being full-time. You may not be making as much art as you think. In fact you may be making more art now, in the tiny pockets of time you currently have, as it is not split between art and administration. I also hope this video gives non artists, who have artist friends/family, an understanding of why you may not see them (me) more often.

Are you a full time working artist? What does your 9-5 look like, and what do you wish others knew about being a full time artist?

Author: DebbieleeMiszaniec

Canadian visual artist.