Here are some thoughts from working artists about how they deal with the anxiety of deadlines.
The thing that works best for me is to have a written calendar that I can look at all at once with all the year’s deadlines written down. If I need to frame, the time for that is written down, if two shows are coming up I’ll finish the work for one and start on the other, and so on.
Keeping in contact with your gallery is also written down as something to complete at specific times. I may sound obsessive, but this really helps. And I also take into account the time I need for unexpected challenges. I always give myself a little more time than I need. And I need to have this calendar on a wall where I can see it every day.
I’m a fine artist; and for forty years I worked as a graphic designer in the printing industry, where the pressure to meet deadlines was an everyday occurrence. I worked well under pressure thanks to understanding the creative process. I’d put ideas into the “incubator” and let them “cook” for a while. Creative ideas would “pop up” and I would write them down or make a sketch quickly and then get back to the job I was working on. With up to 40 jobs on my drawing board at a time, I learned that it was imperative to relax and look at the big picture; and get some exercise at lunchtime.
With my fine art, I generally have at least one gallery show a year. Since I worked full time and was raising 3 children by myself, my painting projects were left on the dining room table. When I had a spare 15 minutes while dinner was cooking, I would paint. I found that if I did little steps at a time and had a clear plan of what I wanted to do I could accomplish my gallery show paintings in time. When working at either mode of art, whether the graphic art or the fine art, I found it helpful to keep a list of things I had to do or buy right next to my drawing board. I also wore a hat that had a band that said, “Please don’t interrupt me, I’m working!”
I’ve got a current exhibition up, so this is all fresh in my mind. Here are some things that help me:
- I need to take just five or so minutes, first thing in the morning, to center myself. For me, that’s to pray and trust that God helps me work quickly and unerringly, but for others they might center is a different way.
- I make sure that I keep a fresh stack of audio books from the audio library in my studio. Listening to them keeps my mind on something other than what remains to be done, thus keeping the pressure at bay.
- I take herbal supplements that are non-addictive anxiety reducers. I am convinced they made a big difference this time, as I did not panic although there were things that did not go right.
What do you do? Leave a comment!
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