Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 24/7 Creative Life

Artists. We harbor so many myths and fantasies about them. They are either starving unknowns, living in poverty and working at their art full-time (à la Van Gogh), or they are flamboyant geniuses achieving fame and fortune (think Picasso and Warhol).

If an artist needs a money to live until his or her art commands huge prices, then one often-preferred path is to become an art teacher. Although the romantic idea of doing one’s work in a classroom while sharing one’s creative thoughts with an eager audience of students is desirable, the reality is often very different. There just aren’t enough teaching jobs to go around.

So for most artists the middle road between starvation and fame looks more like this: Waking up and readying themselves for work, working a full-time day job, often eight hours a day, five days a week. Painting, performing or writing is saved for after work, weekends or vacations. Artists often get frustrated and dream of the day they will become “legit,” working at their art full-time instead of being a “slave to the system.”

An artist, musician and writer herself, Summer Pierre has tackled this problem head-on in her new book, The Artist in the Office – How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week. In her introduction she writes: “This little book isn’t about not working, it’s about acknowledging the work we do. It’s about waking up in the life we inhabit now instead of putting off life for later.”

She goes on to offer practical advice on “how to focus and get your creative work done while keeping a job as well as your sanity." Some of her tips include:

1. Lunchtime adventures
2. Creative commute.
3. Make work an object of creativity.
4. Job searching tips.
5. Ways to find time (limit television, internet, etc).
6. Take a class.

Lavishly illustrated with amusing drawings, The Artist in the Office will help anyone thrive at both their creative work and their day job.

The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre (Penguin Group, 2010).

No comments: