One of the things I have been working on with my career coach is finding ways to stay motivated. When I get excited about something (my sewing classes, ballet or fabric design class), it's easy for me to have laser focus and just keep pushing. My usual motto is: "If I don't care about my art, then who is going to care? If I just stopped painting, the world would go on and no one would care."
Ever since I have committed myself to "Panda and Me" paintings in 2014, I have been so excited to come home from my day job. Everyday I itch to paint Panda and all the stories that are flowing in from my head.
My coach encourages me to isolate the factors that keep me excited. So far these things have helped:
1) Promising myself to paint 1 big painting (18" x 24") or a couple of small paintings per month. This is not an ambitious goal at all. I wanted to start with baby steps and feel good about achieving something.
2) Keeping track of my painting and exercise time on a physical calendar. I wish I had done this sooner because its helpful to see how many hours I have spent per painting. Plus, seeing it all laid out gives me a visual sense of getting closer to my goal. In order for me to paint a couple of hours per night, I have to exercise when I come home from work. My body feels stiff sitting at my office desk all day.
3) Listening to art business podcats, engaging in online artist groups and reading art business blogs. In the past, I didn't bother to research how fine artists made a living because I assumed it was impossible (unless if you're famous), I assumed that the only way to go was being a commercial designer OR running a art licensing business. Ever since I opened up to the idea of successfully selling "Panda and Me" art, I started to find SO many resources to help artists do what they love. It's amazing that all the different podcasts (with people ranging from gallery owners, artists themselves, business coaches, etc), all say the same thing: Selling art is about connecting with your target market audience. Listening to these podcats multiple times is reinforcing these principles and changing my thinking.
4) At work I keep a "happy board" to remind me of all the reasons why I have a day job. I have a great job that pays well and enhances my art skills, but it will never be the equivalent of "Panda and Me"
5) Surrounding myself with artists on all different levels of success. Artists such as the Beatles would be at the highest level of success... Artists I follow on Facebook motivate me to do better... My peers from Punch Studio help me realize that I"m not alone... My family friend Benson (who is a current design student) is someone I can mentor and give advice to.. All of these people remind me that this is a journey .
6) Surround myself with art that moves me. Whether its music, a movie, a tv show or a book, I want to "consume" other people's art that inspires me. When I listen to Fun.'s music for example, I let myself just let go and feel everything. It reminds me that good art reaches all the way into our core and touches on emotions that we all humans experience. Dancing (especially a good partnered swing dance) puts me in the moment as well.
7) I tell myself "You don't know what's around the corner." With my art licensing business, I "knew" what path I needed to take in order to be successful. Hence when I closed it down, I really felt I was sabotaging my own future. However, if I work hard at "Panda and Me" or painting in general, who knows what cool opportunities that will land me?
8) There were moments in my life when I wondered "how am I going to do this?" Yet, things I thought that were "impossible" ended up working out... One example is when i changed from a computer science major to an art major in college. I kept wondering "how is this going to work out?" I never would've predicted that I would end up at Punch Studio and grow so much as an artist.
9) Learning to say "no" and stick with it! Although I am great at laser focusing, I jump from interest to interest. In the past, when I have tried to juggle my day job, my licensing business, dancing and personal painting, I ended up being mediocre in all fields. Recently I turned down a licensing gig because even though it would be easy money, I knew that would take me away from my painting commitments. Plus, I had closed my licensing business and ended my contract with my agent. Hence I needed to stick to my guns!
10) Accepting that not everybody in my "everyday" life will be as enthusiastic about my art adventures. I am very grateful for a small number of friends and family members who "get" that this is such a big part of my life. However, the rest of my friends and family often don't know how to "react" when I am enthusiastically telling them about my latest project. I get self conscious when I see their blank stares and quiet down. I worry that I am "bragging" in their eyes. Usually I check myself with "am I saying I'm so great"? Or am I saying "I'm so excited?" It's funny, because as an artist (and introvert), I'm always trying to connect to the "heart of the matter." I am always trying to get to the raw emotions when I talk to people in conversation. I have notice several conversations with my friends in which I ask them many questions about their lives but they don't return the gesture. I am trying to not take this personally.