So you can have the best art schooling in the world? You study under the best teachers? Watch the most inspiring tutorial videos?
That’s good…but if you are unwilling to dedicate time and effort over and above what is “required”, or place the importance of constant practice above watching TV or playing video games or getting drunk with friends…then you’ll never make it in the commercial art field.
For every moment you decide to goof off, there are thousands of others who are practicing and getting better and growing and they are your competition for a very very very small pool of jobs and assignments. Do you like competition? You’d better.
Push past your limits.
Welcome back to Part 2 of Facing (Some) Freelancing Fears. It’s a continuation of part 1, which you can find here.
Apologies for the delay, I hope this helps you out if you’re thinking of going, or are already traversing this path.
Marcus Hits Me Back…
Thanks for replying so quickly.
You’re definitely right about getting comfortable, I had a 2 year contract that ended a while ago and I got pretty lazy with that job. I stopped pushing my art skills and business development during that period, so that when it came time to start freelancing full time again, it was almost like beginning again. It is definitely something I need to be mindful of this time around.
I also agree with the savings, 6 months of income reserve is definitely something I will aim for. I recently bought an eBook from Illustration Island which recommended 3 months, but 6 months would be best given my circumstances. I’ve got my finances in order, so my savings are steadily climbing. Definitely going out a lot less, drawing more and saving more money in the process.
Regarding my fears, I think it comes from a few things, I’m not totally sure.
Maybe it’s my passive nature? I wasn’t particularly good at contact sports like football, because I would feel bad for knocking someone down and would literally stop to help them back up. It landed me on the bench a lot. I guess it’s why I got into golf.
When I was young, I was almost always alone, so I guess I like solitude. That solitude is perhaps what makes me fearful of getting into the whole commercial art scene I suppose. I fear my work is not good enough, that its not original. I dont have a style. I have always envied those with such an individual style. My art has been mostly self taught and it’s a lonely world to live in where I’m my only critic and my only client.
I recently went to book publisher to see if I could get some work. They loved my stuff, and I need to make a portfolio for them. So I have created some art to put into it…but not enough for a full folio, and I don’t know if I can motivate myself to continue adding to it.
It’s my fear sabotaging me again. It’s so full on, I don’t feel like I deserve that kind of chance — I’m not established, I don’t know enough about art, I feel like I have just fluked my way to this point. It feels like I don’t know if I have done things the right way…people like my pictures and I don’t know why, so I don’t know if I can produce more good work. I see other artists emerging slowly, having exhibitions, going to schools…I have done none of this.
Do you know what I mean by a fluke? Like I have no real training to fall back on. I went to Julian Ashton’s art school for 3 months, I found it really hard because it was so slow and it was very much all about drawing things perfect which I got bored with. I appreciate Ashton’s, but it just wasn’t for me.
Hi again Marcus,
No problems about the reply…you sound a lot like me earlier in my career. So, let me try to address each point you bring up.
Firstly, I think it’s great that you’re reaching out to others, trying to learn, reading books and teaching yourself. I think it’s important to recognise that, for people like us, a lot of this comes from an underlying feeling of “I don’t know what I am doing!”
You never quite feel that you’re worth what you are charging, even if it’s not that much, because you haven’t been schooled in art, it’s like you’re not worthy, so it makes you eternally curious and you grab onto and remember things other artists say, snippets of information, here and there to somehow build up your understanding and confidence on how things are supposed to work.
As a self taught artist myself, I completely understand where you are coming from. We simply don’t have the voices of our teacher’s to help guide our path early in our careers, we don’t have the luxury of asking ourselves what they would do in this or that situation.
The truth is, it’s a blessing in disguise and as long as you are mindful that you will always feel like you don’t know enough, it will serve you well in your career. I’ve been through and felt everything you listed, so find some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. 7 years ago, I somehow lucked out and someone started paying me $300 a week ($14,400 p.a. — no pay for time off or breaks…all of it invariable went to more art books hehe) to work as a concept artist. Not much money but I wasn’t going to complain as I’ve never been trained! I have even less schooling than your 3 months, so you’re already ahead of me
The first 3 years of my career, I still felt everything was a fluke despite the fact that I was by that stage a senior concept artist and then an art director presiding over other artists who did have qualifications. Was it scary? Did I feel like I didn’t deserve it? Was it a fluke? I felt all those things. I did things one way, and people seemed to like it, but I didn’t know if it was the right way or not.
In my spare time, I read interviews with successful artists, listen to them talking on mp3 interviews and watched a ton of training DVDs. The underlying thread I noticed, was that everyone, I mean EVERY single artists, proceeds with their work in a slightly different way, everyone works their way because it works for them and it allows them to end up with a good end result. That alone, the knowledge that there IS no singular “Right Way” was and still is empowering for me and should be for other artists too.
You do things one way, and it works but you’re not sure if it’s the right way? Let me tell you right now, not even knowing how you do your art, it’s the right way, because the end result is the thing that matters. You could be the first person to drag their dick in the sand to come up with their art and it would be the right way, because you end up with the art you want and need.
So you help people up who you’ve knocked down? Hell, you sound like a good individual mate, the world doesn’t need you or me to knock someone else down to bring myself up all the time. There is of course an element of competition out there in the freelancing world, but that doesn’t mean you need to be an aggressive asshole. I (and I’d venture to say the majority of commercial artists) don’t feel the need to stomp on other people to get jobs. I simply go out there, say my piece, try my best to convince someone that they need my skills and convey that I am a pleasant enough person to deal with, so that people won’t hessitate to do business with me. If someone likes and trusts you (and can afford you!), assuming you can do good work, that’s all someone needs to do business.
I do differ in some ways from you regarding to competitiveness though. I am a highly competitive dude, I always have been, but I used to HATE competition, just like you. If someone else liked the same girl, I’d pass. If someone wanted to go for the same job, I’d pass. I was competitive, just as I believe most people are competitive, but I was also deathly afraid of failure. At some stage, you have to just sit down and go, okay, so if I do fail…what’s the worst that will happen? The world won’t end, you’ll pick yourself up from rejection and go to the next thing, and the next thing after that. I learnt to do that earlier in my career, but it’s a skill, and skills can be built, it’s no natural talent. I hated public speaking, so I did more of it until I wasn’t scared of it anymore, same thing.
If it will make you feel any better, I’m still plenty fearful about things, but the difference is that I’ve been through all this enough times to know it will end okay, it’s how you manage fear that is the deciding factor between quitting and carrying on.
Taking it a step further, I actually think fear is good to an extent, it means that we will not go into something unprepared. It only becomes a problem when it stops us from doing something, that’s when you need to rein in fear and recognise that most of what we fear is inexplicable and really…not that bad if we were to screw up. People put too much stock into — oh if I fail my life will be over. My take is to just do it, like Nike says.
Style? Do you have weaknesses? Yes? Then you have style. I once heard that our style is determined by our weaknesses and limitations. With my art, I have this crazy wonky-ness to all of it, it has become recognisable as my style, but you know where it began? It began with me being crap at copying someone’s facial features accurately. It was always a bit crooked, so one day, instead of trying to get everything perfect, I said screw it and made it even more wonky — I had more fun, it captured people’s likeness and I stopped worrying about whether I had style or not. It grew out of my perceived limitations and yours will too, just give it time and don’t pay it any mind. Draw your influences from far and wide so that no one particular artist influences you to become a clone.
Passive natures, I don’t really believe in (and I could be wrong mind you!), I think just about everyone has a line in the sand, that once stepped over will force someone to become pro-active, trouble is, you need to find out where that line is. Someone says they’re a pacifist — you put a gun to their daughter’s forehead, you’ll see someone coming to end you. It’s all in recognising where our battle line is, and we all decide for ourselves where to place this line and how to act once we cross it.
Final point — you’re an introvert, you’re quiet, you prefer your own company and you’re happiest being when you’re alone and arting.
Me too buddy, but that hasn’t stopped me from speaking in front of large audiences, teaching art at university with passion, it hasn’t stopped me from writing in my blog and getting my opinon out there, nor has it stopped me from writing for some of the most well known digital creative magazines on the shelves, it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to drive my art beyond the pale of the common artist and it hasn’t stopped me from knowing that I matter and that I can cause a difference in people’s lives…just as you can. That introversion of yours shouldn’t stop you from doing any of those things either, all you need to do is to believe that you can do them all and much much more.
If you have no firm goal or direction for yourself, anything outside your comfort zone is scary and unreachable. When you are able to train yourself to look beyond all that, to the dream you have for your life, and when you want to achieve that dream with all your heart, obstacles will crumble, you’ll become competitive, you’ll become extroverted, you’ll push past limits you didn’t even realise were limits.
But you have to start by knowing what you want, and doing everything to make that the sole driving force behind your life.
Okay, real final point this time — read some books on extraordinary people, I do all the time, revs me up, pushing me on, makes me feel like I can do it all despite people’s assertions to be realistic. You and I have grand goals for our lives, screw being realistic.
Final Note from Marcus…
Thanks for that, I am so grateful for your detailed response, I see you care deeply for your art. I don’t really have much to say now, just taking it all in. I feel like shaking your hand lol. I’m going to do some drawing.
Thanks again, Marcus.
Well, that wraps up the advice I had for Marcus. Just keep in mind, this is my own point of view, there are plenty of others, so seek them out and continue to grow.
I sincerely hope this has helped some of you out there and answered some questions for you.
If you guys or girls care to share any of your own experiences or point of view about this topic, please do so beneath, I’m sure many people would benefit from it
Catch you on the upside!
Frequently, when I am asked questions about illustration or freelancing, I have already blogged about it or answered it in my FAQ, so I generally direct people to those resources whenever I can.
There are of course still plenty of questions that I have not answered and when one of these pops up, I will usually take the time to write a detailed answer from my perspective. Then with the permission of the questioner, I will post the response for my readers, because sharing is caring and makes us collectively, a more well informed segment of the workforce, thus increasing our cumulative sway in business.
Marcus got in touch with me through my Facebook account (add me here) and has been following my work and blog. He asked me some things that touched me on a personal level and I felt that I needed to answer them, mostly for Marcus, but a little for me as well.
The post primarily delves into certain aspects of the mentality needed for freelancing, how to face fears, feeling like a fraud, style, things of that nature, not so much on the business side of things — hence the “Some” in the title.
As the second part of my response is long, I have decided to break this into two separate blog posts.
I sincerely hope you get something out of it, enjoy…
I realise we have never spoken before, so firstly I must say that I admire your passion for art, and how much drive you obviously have. Your art and words inspire me. So if I may, I feel the need to ask you a few things if you had the time? If you don’t reply that’s fine as I understand you must be busy, but I would greatly appreciate some advice.
My background is that for the past 3 years I have been paid for creative work such as illustration and graphic design. Currently I am a part-time graphic artist at a magazine. This new job is almost perfect for me at this point in time because my future goal is to freelance solely in illustration. The part-time work gives me steady income as well as time to work on my own art and whatever freelance work I pick up.
I feel that I have things holding me back from jumping into the illustration world completely.
Being a graphic artist comes easy to me but it is not my passion. I love drawing but I feel I keep sabotaging myself. It’s like I’m afraid to compete, I’m not really a very competitive person…I feel that I lack the game-face that many illustrators/commercial artists seem to have. I think the lack of confidence in myself is obvious. It’s so annoying.
I know im still at the very start of my artistic journey and perhaps I will probably learn this eventually, but I was wondering if you had any insights? Perhaps you have covered something similar to this in previous blogs so feel free to just direct me to it.
Thanks in advance.
Thanks for getting in touch and the kind words! Yep, art is definitely a large part of my life, I’m glad it’s the same for you also.
It sounds like you’re in a good place right now, part time work is a great stepping stone that is often the basis for most illustrators/freelancers, but I also feel it is important at some stage, to plan your exit once you have enough experience and an income reserve — typically 3–6 months to cover costs, I prefer 6 months myself as I am a cautious person.
The main problem you have to be mindful of when you’re working part time, is that it’s very easy to get into a comfort trap, where you always have an “out” with your part time job “Oh, it’s okay that I’m not getting much work, I have my part time job to fall back on.”
This mindset reduces the immediacy of the problem of finding more work, which means you’ll always be sailing at half mast. Your senses simply aren’t tuned into a fight for survival mode.
When we are in this mental space of surviving, we are capable of drastic changes and we will either do what is necessary to survive and live or we will crash and find out we didn’t have what it took this time around. We feel alive when we are doing this, because we are acting as captains of our own destiny, at the same time it can be scary because we’re not sure we can sail the ship.
This is a necessary mindset for freelancing successfully, and it is very difficult to embrace if you’re still being paid consistently by someone else as an employee.
Before I advise you on the rest of your email…what do you fear? Why don’t you like to compete? Why do you feel you lack confidence? Get back to me with these answers and we can keep chatting…
To be Continued…
That’s all for now, short and sweet!
As usual, if you have any feedback, comments or advice you feel is pertinent to this topic, please leave it in the comments section below. And if you think that this information will help any aspiring freelancers, please share the link…sharing is caring, help spread the knowledge.
Stay tuned for part 2 in a couple of days…until then, stay hungry.
Despite my relative youth (yeah…I’m still clinging tenaciously to the final year of my twenties…), I’ve faced and tasted failure many times in my life, sometimes by my own hand, sometimes at the hand of others. I’m better off for it.
Don’t get me wrong — it is never pleasant, it takes the shine off your day, it brings you face to face with your limitations and crashes you into the dirt with disappointment, the danger being that if you stay there long enough, you’ll never fly again. I’ve seen it time and time again, in friends, in family, people who have traded in lofty dreams for mediocrity. That type of existence is not for me and chances are it’s not for you either.
The encouraging thing is that if you face failure well, it is only a toilet break on the long ass road trip we call life.
This post is a record on how I face failure. If you’re feeling discouraged, I sincerely hope this post helps to put you back on track.
Have I done okay? By who’s standard?
Before I talk about recovering from failure and then going in the opposite direction — success, I suppose it would be useful to figure out if I am successful or not. Hmm.
So, thinking back to when I was growing up, I recall I was a solitary creature who loved being alone and the thing I loved doing the most while I was alone was drawing stuff — monsters, cars, robots, babes, etc. I loved the fumes of my mediums, the silence, the lack of interruptions, just me and my imagination.
Looking back, I think it was pretty clear what my life’s direction was and deep down, I guess I just knew I wanted to make art and to create a life that supported this endeavour. I know I didn’t want to work a day job to fund my art life, I wanted it to pay for itself.
Lets snap forward to the present — my day typically consists of getting paid well to draw and paint in my pajamas while listening to music, engaging in afternoon naps, playing video games, reading cool books and blogging.
Judging from my personal checklist of what I’ve wanted out of life, I’ve guess I’ve done okay for myself. If I judged my life on the criteria of a successful patent lawyer however, this may be another story. On this basis, I’m sure you can determine how much you want to trust my advice or ignore it.
Failure…what the heck is it?
For me, the definition of failure is when you look to achieve an outcome and you (or you and your team) come up short.
Where I’ve failed.
- I’ve studied the wrong things and spent a buttload of my working years climbing a ladder resting on the wrong wall.
- I haven’t followed through on my bold promise to deliver an art team’s vision and workload on time and at the quality level promised.
- I’ve failed time and time again to make my voice heard when it could have made a difference.
- I’ve alienated friends and created enemies when there was no need to.
- I’ve under delivered to clients because of a failure to take everything into account.
- I’ve given up when the final leg of the marathon was in striking distance because I feared the inevitable judgement at the end.
- I’ve placed trust in people my gut instinct told me not to.
- I’ve compromised my own morals.
- I’ve allowed relationships to carry on for longer than their expiry date.
- I’ve placed being liked ahead of being effective.
- I’ve wasted time and opportunities looking for alternatives when I had what I was looking for all along, right in front of me.
- I’ve missed on deadlines, styles and execution.
- I’ve blamed circumstances and I’ve blamed other people for things that didn’t go right.
- I’ve over committed to projects.
- I’ve cared too much.
- I’ve cared too little.
- I failed to inspire.
- I’ve been too harsh.
- I’ve been too soft.
These are just some of the things I have failed at and regretted. I’ve felt low because of them, I’ve wanted to run away, to hide in dark corners, allow the world to turn on without me. It’s no understatement that I am not perfect, where I’ve faulted in the past was either absolving myself of blame or beating myself up mentally to the point of being an extra on a Romero zombie flick.
I think this is how a lot of other people also deal with failure.
Part of the solution for moving on, is to recognise that most things are not forever, they don’t necessarily need to stay “failed”. Always aim for that elusive perfection, with the full knowledge that you will seldom achieve it. And don’t beat yourself up over it.
How does it make you feel?
Failure in any endeavor, will usually do one of three things to you — it will either make you feel nothing; it will make you feel pissed off; or it will make you feel like tucking your tail between your legs and whimpering in the corner.
I know because I’ve felt all three at different times, so lets talk about picking up and moving on.
Getting past it…
Feeling indifferent and apathetic towards failure means that you will neither learn or grow from it. It signals that you have lost the passion for something or never had it in the first place. It always strikes me as absolutely batshit insane that the majority of people I meet tolerate a mediocre career, marriage and existence without a plan on how they are going to improve things.
The solution is to find something or someone else to care about or to discover a way to reignite the passion lost. Where there is no emotion, you can never hope to achieve great things. As Elie Weisel once said:
Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.
The second feeling, where you feel pissed off, for me at least has always shifted me into over-drive. If someone proclaims I’m not good at something I want to be good at, DAMN them to hell, I’ll show that they’re wrong. I won’t argue or bitch or moan, I will simply clam up in my fortress of solitude and push past my boundaries so that at some point I will be able to say “In Your FACE!”
I’ve found that if it is harnessed the right way, angry energy is an extremely powerful driver for me. Part of my competitive nature I guess. The trick is not to let it overtake you, being a perpetually angry person sucks.
The final feeling you may experience when you fail, is one of shame, you can’t believe it happened and you go over it in your mind, turning the past over and over again — how could something go so wrong?
Self blame is typical at this stage, and if left to fester, it can really hamper progress in your life. You need to have a heart to heart with your inner self, figure out how much was your fault, how much was beyond your control and how to not only avoid the same pitfalls in the future, but how to come out on top.
Reading the book The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar, an incumbent old hand in silicon valley, brought into focus the fact that failure rates are high in his cutting edge game changer world, but that it has been past failures that have allowed him and others like him the most growth opportunities.
I played the self blame game for a looong time after I left Interzone games, it damn near made me quit art altogether, down in the dumps, no one to turn to for help, I had to rebuild myself from ground zero, go back to my roots, my driving factors to see if they were still there. They were, but I had to do some serious soul-searching and re-configure my mind before I even picked up a pencil again.
It can take time…a lot of it, but this introspection is worth it, and in my opinion, absolutely critical in not having those same issues speed bump you in future endeavours. Once I put my demons to rest and plotted my new direction, exciting things happened so quickly within those next 6 months it was breathtaking, but I would not have gone there if I hadn’t been through that prior failure and learned their lessons well.
Where to now?
Whichever reaction you initially experience, there will be a point at which you reach a convergence — as in each of these paths will lead to a singular point. At this singular meeting point is where you decide what happens next, do you boldly try again? Do you retreat temporarily and then try a different path? Do you surrender? Or do you stand still while the weeds grow all around you?
Only you can answer this one, so dig deep but remember this: make your next way-point meaningful, or your failure will have been for naught.
Aude Aliquid Dignum — Dare Something Worthy
Although I enjoy and appreciate what I have, in keeping with the personal dictum that human potential is near limitless, I will always endeavor to push on to greater heights as I believe most people should. In doing so however, in pushing boundaries and frontiers, part of the bargain is that at any moment, whether from lack of calculation or circumstances outside our controls, we can fail at the things we set out to do. The less defined the path, the higher the risk potential for failure and only you can decide if the downside is worth it.
I personally think it is tragic when dreams are subjugated to the fear of possible failure. We as a species have the unique ability to manifest abstract thought and to bring about its physical equivalent through concerted effort. Using our mental capacity to accept, learn from and move past failure is a big part of this whole business of defining a life rather than living by default.
As I leave you, let this great quote by Abraham Lincoln underpin your actions today:
You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish, if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose. — Abraham Lincoln
Catch you on the flipside.
The title of this post is obvious as hell. No shiz, thanks for telling me…but you know what? Obviousity (new word I made up) means nada without constant repetition and acting in accordance with “widely accepted truths”.
Reading is good for your brains, spend less than you earn and invest the rest is smart, eating a box of chocolates ain’t the best for your waistline — these things are all obvious, but seldom practiced by the majority of people. These are some of the reasons why first world country trends means we’re becoming fatter, poorer in savings and stupider in general.
Why did I just mention all that? Maybe to placate the inevitable “Well that seems obvious, I don’t know why it needs mention”. The answer, is because sometimes we all need to be reminded of simple truths to reignite good intentions we have allowed to atrophy.
First, you need to ignore the bloody problem…
The way we have been conditioned to think in this day and age (through mass media) is that the problem is the be-all end all, it is the point to be focused upon, it is in vogue to bitch and moan and tell everyone how much things suck.
Whoa is me!!! If I complain to enough people, maybe someone else will join in with me and we can engage in a pity party hug puddle.
Tut tut, pity is the province of those who think the world owes them a living. The world owes you, me and everyone else, nothing.
What is the outcome? You fuck yourself in the ass, that’s what.
The end result of focusing exclusively on the problem will be this — you surround yourself with equally unhappy individuals, the problem is placed on a pedestal before which you all worship and before long it becomes the all consuming thing at the forefront of your mind and you’re not a single step closer to alleviating it.
It’s poisonous and you need to stop it in it’s tracks the minute you become aware of it.
No if’s or buts, if you want to achieve great things in your life, you need to overcome this monumental yet largely invisible problem.
Defeat those mental naysayers. Develop your own personal mind guard.
We moan and bitch because we allow the negative part of our brain to take over, it’s like the little negative devil that sits on your shoulder telling you that you’re no good, or that you’ll never amount to anything, etc.
What you need is your own personal mind guard, a protector shrouded in titanium armour forged in the blood of a thousand Viking men and inscribed with powerful ancient ass kicking Sanscrit from the fourth apocalypse.
The following used to be the conversation I’d have in my head that I’d have with myself, my devil naysayer is called Demon Face and my kick ass protector is called Charlie Sheen:
Demon Face: Jesus Christ, I can’t draw for shit. I’ve been at this for over 2 hours and all I’ve got to show for it is a half assed mess on the screen, oily hand marks on my Cintiq and an ass callus from hell. Why can’t you get your finger out of your puckered asshole and get some real work done?
Charlie Sheen: Because you filthy son-of-a-bitch, this is what the initial stages of artwork look like, and if you don’t like it, you can go sit in the corner and suck on your thumb for a while and cry me a river. If you’d rather stay, shut your mouth and stop your sissy ass whining, or I will curb stomp you, then kick you in the balls.
These days, Demon Face don’t utter much, ’cause he’s in the gutter, puking up blood while Charlie wails on him with a broken champagne bottle.
You must protect your psyche, your drive and your direction because if you don’t, it will be fragile and your resolve will shatter at the slightest of provocations.
It can be the difference between a life squandered and one that is not.
Ignoring the problem is only one half of the equation. Now, you have to think about the solution.
You can’t just empty your mind of problems, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t be not-troubled any more than you can’t be not-hungry…unless you’re dead or delaying the inevitable that it will come back to bite you squarely in the ass.
You must fill the new void.
If you do not focus your mind on something more productive, it will naturally lapse back into negative thought patterns. Nope, you have to pre-occupy your mental gymnastics with how you will tackle the problem, aka The Solution. That is where your focus and energies should be channeled.
So the next time you’re landed with a problem, remember to stop the bitchin’ and start the solvin’.
If you’re keen on seeing how I typically solve problems, check out this prior series of posts:
Keep whippin’ Demon Face’s ass, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.
Running a business means that you always have an endless amount of work to do, if it’s not replying to client emails, it’s balancing the books or working on new designs, and if it’s not that then it’s planning the days ahead or doing marketing.
It can sometimes seem overwhelming, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and I thank God that I love doing most of it or else I would have gone postal a long time ago and buried myself in a tub of cookies and cream.
Why does productivity matter?
Despite that, love for my work doesn’t change the fact that there is always a load to do, therefore being effective while I’m doing it makes sense — you get the work done quicker, more accurately or creatively which allows you to either move onto another task, or simply have more free time.
Why does everyone need to work from 9–5?!
Enter the typical work day for most people, the 9–5 monster…I just don’t think it works that well. It’s a dated, blunt force, dinosaur of a tool imposed on a highly non-homogeneous populace. Each of us have our individual body cycles, some prefer to work early in the day, others later in the day, some of us late at night while everyone else is asleep.
You don’t work at a constant rate unless you’re dead…
Personally, I have always found it extraordinarily difficult to remain at near full productive capacity for the duration of the 8 hour work day, it simply stretches far too long without a chance to recharge somewhere in the middle.
My productivity cycle dictates that for the first 4 hours of the day, from 9am-1pm, I am generally awake, firing on all cylinders and burning through my work. Come lunch time however and this slows to a crawl as my stomach is busy digesting food and I am working at half mast. My eyes are droopy, I’m on autopilot trying to stay awake and hoping my slurred speech doesn’t make people don’t think I’m high on drugs. Later on in the afternoon though, I get a second wind and I am often working up to 12am or later the next morning.
Lots of people follow a similar pattern, but due to their salaried employee status, sustained productivity isn’t a huge concern for them. As a freelancer who gets paid per hour however, this is a huge concern because ineffective time really is very costly.
This is where powernaps come into the picture…
Being fully aware of this surge-lull-surge in productivity during the day, rather that fight it, I’d prefer to flow with it. I’ve adopted somewhat of a bi/polyphasic sleeping pattern (as opposed to a monophasic sleeping pattern that most adhere to) now that I also live with a partner who has a different work schedule from myself.
I go to sleep relatively late as I enjoy the peace and quiet and can get a lot of my art done during the night / early morning. Then I usually awake around the same time as my partner, which would mean I don’t get the regular 8 hours sleep. I work till around lunch time when I will either go to the gym first, or have lunch and an afternoon powernap for about 25 minutes.
After the power nap, it almost feels like a second morning and this will help to fuel me through to another 6+ hours of work if I need to. On particularly long days, I will sometimes take two power naps spaced about 6 hours apart, and I judge the necessity to do so based on my clarity of thought.
This simple addition of power napping during the day helps me immensely, I’m able to learn more, be more productive around the clock and achieve more during my waking hours. If you’re a uni student or someone who simply has a lot of activities outside of the 9–5 day, try giving powernaps a go, they may just be what you need to get more out of each day.
If you try it out, let me know how you go with it in the comments
Keep kickin’ ass.
Hey guys, a quick update, you may have noticed a lack of blog updates lately and the reason is that I’ve been busy learning how to build my own site in WordPress with help from Lynda.com training.
It’s been years since I’ve tried to create my own page, but I thought it was time I learnt how to, and with WordPress and other CMS software it’s never been easier, especially for someone like myself who is primarily a creative content developer. Having a CMS is a big departure from my Computer Science days when we were coding crappy sites from notepad. WordPress is a fantastic framework that lets people like me concentrate on using my core skills — ie. creating artwork and writing, rather than half assing code and markup.
My previous site was fine for my first professional website and WeCanCreate did a great job, but it did have limitations that I wasn’t happy with. Creating my own site was the only way I could have the functionality and flexibility I required / wanted.
If you’re thinking about going this route with your own site / blog, I recommend signing up to Lynda.com and going through the WordPress 3 Essential Training with Morten Rand-Hendriksen, he takes his time to explain things to noobs such as myself and there is a lot of welcome hand holding.
I’m still in the process of getting content up-to-date, especially the gallery which has a slightly different format, focusing on projects, allowing me more space to explain the processes I have gone through to arrive at a final design / illustration choice. I’m leaning towards also incorporating lightbox functionality for those who are only interested in flicking through the images. Please excuse the broken image links, I’m still updating them
One big addition, is that I have added a FAQ section, this part of the site holds a bunch of information from my personal experience. It contains excerpts from blog posts, interviews I have done with magazines, and some have been written from scratch. I created this section primarily because these questions seem to crop up pretty often. Check it out and let me know what you think or let me know if there are errors I need to fix.
In other news my little sister is getting married at the end of the year! Very exciting news! I’ve volunteered to be her wedding photographer in return for a new lens to shoot with, and I’m really excited to do it. I’ll be getting the lens shortly, a Canon f/2.8L 70-200mm with no IS, an awesome zoom lens for those photojournalist shots. I’ll be taking it through it’s paces when I get it, and when I visit Cambobia’s Angkor Wat later in the year with Kellie.
One other quick blip, I just registered a new business domain. Exciting times ahead.
Hope your times have been productive, peace out.