Saturday, 25 April 2009

Link shoutout - Artemisia

In lieu of proper posts, I'm going to start doing some shoutouts to great resources on anything remotely related to art, illustration, productivity, business and what not.

Today's shout out goes to Artemisia -a blog that covers fantasy art from the female perspective. Apart from the fact the artists in question are all very talented (if you don't know Melissa Findley or Louisa Gallie's artwork, check them out!), their posts are interesting and intelligent - without coming off as bra-burning feminists. They list stock resources, give their opinions on cover art, and feature female arts in the fantasy art field. It's only new, but hopefully they keep pumping out the articles (in between the artworks!)

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Stop Giving Yourself A Guilt Trip! (EMG Zine February)

Thou shalt paint whenever one is not:

a) At the day job

b) Making the house liveable by cleaning, cooking, ironing or fumigating

c) Laid off sick with 2 broken arms or completely incapacitated

The consequences of ignoring these commandments shall be eternal guilt...

Um... When did I agree to this?

Most artists have gotten themselves in the situation where they feel they *should* be painting if they have free time. (I'm not talking about blowing off your responsibilities, I'm talking about feeling under pressure to create stuff just because you are an artist and you have spare time.)

You try and be a superhero, putting unrealistic and often unhealthy expectations on yourself. And if you don't meet these expectations you get miserable. Or if you're like me, you start to feel a big, fat case of the guilts. After the guilts start, martyrdom sets in and you paint because you *should*, not because it's fun or rewarding, but because you've made these silly rules that you can't have any semblance of a life.

I'm guilty of it. In fact, I worked myself into the ground trying to have two careers, and somewhere along the way forgot to have fun. I got so caught up in having to paint because I was an artist and it's what I should be doing, that all painting felt like 'work.' Commission work, personal work, portfolio work -- it felt like I was churning through it, but the heart wasn't in it in the way it should be. Oh don't get me wrong, I gave 150% on each piece; it was more the way I felt inside as I painted. It got into a nasty cycle of working, coming home, doing necessary chores, painting because I had free time (not because I had a drive to paint), and all the while thinking I’d rather be doing something else. And heaven forbid I did something else; I'd be thinking about the fact I should be painting when I wasn't. While I had guilted myself into painting and was producing stuff, I wasn't enjoying the process.

It's kind of like being allowed dessert. You really want a chocolate sundae covered in gooey hot chocolate fudge sauce. And then being sensible or being bullied into getting the fruit salad. While the fruit salad is healthier and tastes great, what you really wanted was the ice-cream. The whole time you're having your pineapple you're thinking about the ice-cream. In the end, you got dessert, you're down a couple of dollars, you've eaten something you really didn't feel like, and you haven't really got rid of the craving for the sundae.So what can you do when you start feeling guilty about NOT painting?

  • Slap yourself in the back of the head and stop thinking that way! Nobody likes a martyr and no one but yourself is putting expectations on you. If a company wants you to do 50 paintings in a week, they're only doing it because you allowed yourself to be put into that situation. Be realistic about what you can do and recognise your limitations. Also recognise that you are entitled to a life!

  • Relax! The painting will still be there tomorrow, a week from now, even six months later. It's like riding a bike. The skills may get rusty, but they don't disappear.
    You don't have to spend all your free time on one thing. You are allowed to have more than one artistic pursuit or hobby (actually, this should be expanded to be 'you are allowed to have a life!'). I have several (hobbies, not lives :) ) -- I play music, I do medieval recreation, I dance, I play computer games… It may help to balance you out or inspire you in different ways. It also helps to reenergise you when you are having an artist block.

  • Don't think about what you think you should be doing when you are doing something else enjoyable. Again it's like the chocolate sundae. Your free time is just that -- free! Free to do what you want, not free to only do painting and nothing else or you shall be struck down by some omnipotent being. A little bit of guilt helps you get through the things you have to.

You don't need it in your free time. So go forth, paint because you want to, not because you feel guilty about NOT painting.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Lazy Artist (EMG Zine January)

Originally posted : EMG Zine January Issue

I know that purchasing more hours in the day is not really achievable, nor is getting rid of the day job, but to coin a phrase my boss uses all the time -- we want to work smarter, not harder! This is where learning to be a 'lazy' person can help you get more stuff done (like painting!), and in less time. Here are some ideas to help you become a 'lazy artist' and increase your time for painting!

Automate stuff

Anything that you can set up in five minutes, and that takes less than a click to cancel is great. You can:
  • set up direct billing for website hosting/ domain names/ art site subscriptions
  • subscribe to rss feeds through your mail client (rather than visiting the site daily)
  • Set up automatic filters/ rules on your email inbox. Rather than having 6000 emails in your inbox, it's a lot easier to deal with 5 emails you HAVE to answer then and there
  • Automate your computer gadgets including
    • backup procedures (my external harddrive has an automatic feature, but there are loads of free tools out there. Check out for loads of information)
    • virus scans
    • defragging the hard drive

As I have my computer on a lot, I try to schedule the tasks for when I'm not likely to be working so that these processes don't interrupt my flow. Create a digital Personal Assistant with free online tools Why remember stuff when you can set up a reminder? The less you have to remember, the more free space in your brain for other important things. Well that's the theory anyway! Set up reminders for:
  • paying bills (if you haven't automated them)
    doing daily chores (like remembering to hang out the load of washing you put on 2 hours ago!)
  • deadlines for commissions, competitions, submission dates
  • interrupting procrastination such as catching up on forums, random internet searches, playing solitaire *ahem*
  • Eat/ sleep/ have a real lifeThere are loads of on (line tools to help you manage your time such as:
    Remindr --
    Hassle me --
    Remember the Milk -

With some of these sites, they can even send reminders to your PDA, Blackberry, Mobile Phone or other electronic devices.

Why reinvent the wheel - Alternatives to a website

If you don't have time to develop your own website, or are finding it difficult to get around to updating your html & FTP'ing it to a server, then maybe you could use an online gallery for updates with a link from your main page or profile to the gallery. Some Online galleries you might like to look at are:

Another alternative to online galleries is to redirect your website to a blog. Some blogs are capable of hosting content such as images and videos. The benefit of using a blog is that they are quick to update, many have very simple interfaces, are very customizable and are free. Of course they aren't websites, and so don't have things like storefronts, but you can link to places where you can sell.

For an overview of some of the blogging software available:

And if you are really pressed for time, try microblogging where you are limited to about 150 words. It's quick and easy and many of the microblogs have widgets for syndicating content. Examples of these include Twitter (, though many places such as Facebook and MySpace have similar tools known as Status Updates.

Let someone else sell your stuff

Another way to save on time is to stop doing the manufacturing of prints yourself and get someone else to do this. You may like to explore services such as Zazzle, Cafe Press & Deviant Art Prints, or consider licensing your images for manufacturing. The main downside to this is that you have no control over quality, and your profits may be fairly slim. But it does mean all that time you spend making things could be spent on painting. Being a 'lazy artist' is not about taking shortcuts, it's about prioritizing and working out what you want to spend your precious time on. And the more time you have to paint, the better!