As an artist, it's likely that you will have multiple streams of income -selling original artwork, selling and licensing prints and templates, commissions, and many more. Each of your revenue streams will make up varying percentages of your mass income. Knowing how to effectively balance each one will lead to you having a fulfilling and successful career as an artist.
How you decide to manage your workload will depend on your financial and creative circumstances. If commissions make up the majority of your income, you may start to notice that there is an imbalance between the amount of time that you assign to your commissions versus your personal projects. Working on a piece that someone has commissioned you to produce is entirely different to working on something that you yourself have first ideated, and then have chosen to put onto your canvas. Having this kind of creative disproportion could lead to a waning in your passion for your craft, as your art slowly begins to feel more like work rather than the creative outlet which just happens to also be your source of income.
Whilst commissions are an excellent source of finance, remember that they are a partnership between you and the commissioner where the eventual outcome of the artwork will be dictated by an influence external to you. Therefore, it is so important that you put time aside to work on your other projects and continue to develop your skills. Like a ballerina who takes time out every day to build on their flexibility, you must also make time to continue finetuning your craft.
So, how do you go about effectively balancing your workload?
Start by blocking your time. Throughout the year there will periods where you may be more open to taking on commissions. Although, it goes without saying that this will all be dependent on your personal financial situation, which is why it's advisable for you to have multiple income streams. Note, having different sources of revenue allows you to be more flexible with your time. Once you have identified the months during which you feel comfortable working on commissioned artwork, you can then start selecting suitable opportunities that will fit into your desired creative work pattern.
Choosing the right commission is integral to balancing your workload well. Before you decide to commit to a commission request, make sure that you talk with your potential client in detail so that you have a good understanding of what the task entails. It is at this point that you should ask as many questions as possible and invite them to do the same in order to avoid taking on a responsibility that will eventually overwhelm you. It would also be a good idea to take a deposit before starting the commission and agree on a payment plan with the client for your own peace of mind.
Now that you have decided when you're able to take on commissions and identified which ones you are going to dedicate yourself to, you can start planning the rest of your time. There are several ways in which you can do this, you may decide that you only wish to work on one thing at a time, or you may wish to split your week between various different projects. There is no wrong decision, whatever you decide to do make sure it's the right decision for you! The most important thing is that you have balance.
What are your tips for balancing your workload?
Photo credit: Elena Koycheva