For any artist in the beginning stages of establishing their voice and style, stress can be the biggest deterrent, often leading to throwing in the chamois cloth. Artists, please meet Anxiety: the arch enemy of all things productive. This word, which also evokes other varieties of daily stressors (creative block, messy studio, impending deadlines, empty audience) also has its way of wreaking havoc to one’s sense of livelihood: bills, the next paycheck, the next meal.
Although an aggressive foe, anxiety can be a necessary catalyst for creativity. Painter and psychotherapist TJ Walsh suggests going full-metal-jacket when it comes to stress. “Create through turmoil,” he says in his article on staying grounded during the creative process. “Life brings unexpected complexities. Instead of being derailed by disturbances, if we keep creating through tough times, even at micro levels, we support our motivation.” Luckily, a few other InLiquid artists have also shared some of their methods to help alleviate those tensions. From meditation to making lists, all have found a ritual to get them to the finish line.
For fiber and installation artist Carla Fisher, she was surprised to discover she was applying many of the same habits and rituals she had applied during her career as a financial consultant to her new career as an artist. To pace herself, she’d set up a routine schedule for the week. Monday mornings were for researching opportunities on sites like Call For Entry. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were for her teaching assistant job at University of the Arts, recording all and any insights she’d gain that day. Fridays were just for shipping artwork to clients. When describing her goals as an artist, Carla stresses that instead of obsessively searching for art submissions, she’d spend a greater amount of time studying galleries online and composing lists of ones she’d like to pursue representation from, then base her goals on their expectations.
For painter Erica Harney, she chooses to save the best part of her day for last. “I prefer to paint in the evenings,” she explains, “after all of my daytime obligations and distractions have been dealt with. That way I can immerse myself in my work without being bothered by emails, administrative work, domestic chores, etc.” Also, Harney’s cat Rufus usually keeps her company while at work.
Photographer Pedro Zagitt uses the Pomodoro Technique to work and regulate his breaks in between. “I work one hour of writing and focus only on that. After a break, I dedicate myself to something else and not waste time on worrying.” He also meditates on a regular basis and shares that the stress has dissipated through practice. “I try to accept things as they are and instead of focusing on what is inevitable, I focus on the things that I have control over,” he offers.
For these artists, like most of us, it’s the navigation of stress that gets them through it. Unfortunately, anxiety cannot be eliminated like the nasty itch it is, but it can be managed. It’s just a matter of finding the best management that fits you, even if it requires a furry assistant on site.