Monday, December 3

Crunch Time: How Do You Prioritize?

There comes a time in every artist's life when they are put under pressure to complete a piece or entire series of work by a certain date. I am, of course, speaking of deadlines. They turn up all throughout your artistic life: with school, galleries, art tours, commissions, holidays, special occasions, articles, blogs, and even with books, if you are so inclined to write one.

I don't believe anyone has a life that is structured solely around the act of artistic creation, even the most successful and dedicated professional artist must make time to apply for shows, photograph work, advertise themselves, and generally organize the business side of the art life. In fact, if you read the novel Art & Fear as I suggested you should, you would have come across the sobering knowledge that one established painter shared with us. That is, that after meticulously documenting how he spent his time, he found that in a month he only spent a total of 6 or 7 days actually painting. The rest of the time was dedicated towards the business end of being an artist, which includes tasks such as the ones I listed above.

I assume I am correct and that no one artist spends 100% of their time working on the physical production of art. In school I have come to the conclusion that other students, like myself, find it difficult to work on written projects, even when they are directly related to our work as artists (such as business proposals and independent research projects). Anything that we cannot do in the studio, that does not help us create finished pieces, makes us feel like we are not working, like we are doing absolutely nothing important with our time.

If other artists feel like us, and I'm sure that some other artists also feel that way, then the question is, how do they prioritize? At school the majority of students leave written projects to the near last moment, some don't even make the deadlines - and this would be a detrimental habit if the written work was related to grants or audits. So, do a lot of us break these habits as we mature into the art world? When money and exposure is on the line do we learn to pick up the slack?

After all, I think the business proposal was an extremely relevant project to my own future as an artist, yet still I underestimated the time I would need and was left working until 5 in the morning on the day it was due. Despite the fact that I put 30 solid hours into the project, if it were a real business proposal for a bank, investor, or grants council, I certainly would have failed to gain funding. So when the time comes will I be able to tear myself away from the studio and convince myself that the writing I have to do is for the greater good of my artistic wellbeing?

Can you pull yourself away from the studio when it matters? How can you convince yourself to put down the tools, wash your hands and go open up Microsoft Word?

No comments: