We all know it’s difficult to balance a day job and other endeavors. Designers often put their clients and day jobs ahead of their own personal creative projects. We’re trained to be creative — on demand — right? Why is it that we have almost boundless conceptual energy for our paying work, but nothing left for our own personal work? Is it stress? Pressure? Competing priorities? Not enough hours in the day?
Being creative for others — the balance between paying bills and being fulfilled as an artist — is a challenge that is difficult for most, and impossible for some. Personally, I think we put a little bit of our emotional selves into our paying work. At the end of the day, we’ve spent our creative credits, and all we really feel like doing is sitting and staring into space; maybe watching something dumb on TV. If it’s been a particularly stressful day, we’re sitting and staring into space, watching dumb TV, with an adult beverage in one hand. I know that’s been me on more than one occasion. Why do you think the Mad Men of the 1950s and 60s were so into liquid lunches?
“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
How does this happen? Most of us got into graphic design as a form of creative fulfillment for pay, of course; but being creative for a living can have its drawbacks. Being a fine artist doesn’t always pay the bills, so what is a creative person to do? I wish someone would come up with a definitive answer for this quandary. It’s not social media. Most of us struggle to keep up with posting enough to make our efforts relevant. It might be keeping art supplies out and accessible. It might even be giving yourself your own assignments with deadlines. Perhaps it’s drawing or painting in the hopes that you might use this work for a paying project. Even meeting up with friends for regular art sessions is helpful, but so far I’ve managed one, maybe two get-togethers with art friends. Sigh.
I’m not sure what the right answer is. Maybe someone out there knows. As for me, I’ll continue to struggle daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly with the knowledge that though I am creatively fulfilled at work, I am woefully unfulfilled when it comes to my own creative projects and endeavors.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a Martini Minute right about now. It’s gotta be 5 o’clock somewhere in the world.