I've been asked a lot recently what it's like to be an artist. People often seem confused about what I actually do, how I structure my days and what my work really consists of. I think I resisted calling myself an artist for so long because there are so many misconceptions out there.
I'm afraid the reality of my daily existence isn't anything like this.
Now I wish I could say that my morning consisted of hot water with lemon and morning pages, an hour of yoga with the sunrise, meditating, and a grounding jog on the beach, all before breakfast. Maybe one day?
Instead, my cat wakes me. Either he scratches at the door if I've had to lock him out in order to sleep, or he taps my face with his paw until I get up.
Once he's absolutely sure that he's been successful and that I have no chance of going back to bed or falling asleep again, he curls up on me and takes a nap.
I moan about him waking me too early, but deep down I love this moment. A cup of coffee, a purring bundle on my lap, my journal for some scribbled notes or podcast on and a piece of toast. A slow and gentle way to start the day.
Before I start work, I try to make sure I get out for a walk. Lately I've been climbing the hill in the middle of the city - Schlossberg, as it gives a sense of air and space, provides me with a dose of vitamin D, all while getting me moving and some grounding in nature. I find if I don't go out first thing in the morning, it is much harder to be motivated to move your body or get fresh air later in the day.
On the days my mind tells me to stay indoors I tempt myself out with the promise of a pastry afterwards, a unhealthy way of maintaining a healthy habit.
Then, I'm back to my desk for the morning. I occasionally take my laptop to co-work with a friend somewhere or go to a cafe, but I actually love my little studio space at home. I'm more focussed as it is quiet and without interruptions.
My work in the morning usually consists of admin; responding to emails, packing new orders to post, updating my website with new products, writing copy for content, doing the accounts.
Without a doubt, this is the un-glamourous but necessary side to working as an artist. These are the parts that are often the hardest to learn when starting off.
Running a business has so many sides to it, there's always a list of 1000 things to do that you will never get to the bottom of, and a general underlying feeling of overwhelm is never far away.
Accepting that I will never reach the bottom of my to-do list was really hard for me, but it has also been freeing. I try to schedule and plan what work I can manage to get done in a day and anything on top is a bonus. It takes the pressure off.
I always take a quick break at lunch. Working from home makes it too easy to never leave your desk and keep going in an attempt to get through the mountain of things that need to be done.
But that's a recipe for burnout. So even if I'm in the zone and don't want to pause, I do. I eat somewhere else to get a change of scene, I sometimes use the break to see people and socialize. The main thing is to get away from my screen and to eat a nourishing meal.
The afternoons are set aside for the more creative side of my work, I use this time to work on commissions, or to do my own sketches and experiments when I have the time.
I also like to use the afternoons for photographing products or making videos for content, as those activities for me are more fun than admin. I always try to get the work I dread the most done in the morning, so that I feel lighter and more creative in the afternoon.
Of course, some days the admin just takes over and I have to prioritize what is most urgent.
On those days, I make sure to take a tea break in the afternoon, and use this time to unwind a bit. I move away from my desk to go somewhere more comfortable, make myself a cuppa with some nuts and chocolate, and sketch while listening to something.
Teatime was always a big thing in my family (I'm Irish, so... tea). In all of the places I've lived and the different work schedules I've kept, afternoon tea remains a constant habit. (And yes, for fellow Cork people, I do have a supply of Barry's in my cupboard).
I try to keep my evenings simple; some yoga before dinner, occasionally a bath to unwind. I like to get to bed early with my journal and a book. Switching off from technology as early as possible is really important; the quiet is where I get my ideas for all of my creative work.
So, I'm not sure if this gives you a little more insight into what it's like to be an artist, or just shows a snippet of how I work and how I try to structure my days. I stick to my routine loosely, as it does help creativity, but there always needs to be room for flexibility and last-minute plans.