For the Artist + Maker + Creative Entrepreneur
I love my little world, my artsy life and creating every day. I am living the dream, I am a full time artist who gets to draw, paint and create every day and makes money doing it. How great is that! But let's face it being successful at anything you do in life requires some work.
As a creative entrepreneur, no matter your field, it is up to you to show up and do the work every day. This can feel particularly challenging when your business relies on your creativity. As business owners, we don’t have the luxury of just creating when we feel like it. Most artists are rebels at heart, don’t tell them how to do something, that is too constricting for them and they will scoff at the ideas you present. But when you need to grow your business you need to be honest and ask yourself what will set me free to create more and help me become successful at what I do.
Let's be honest, who does not want to be a full time creative and productive artist in their field? Not a starving artist but one who makes a good living and loves what they do. When I first ventured into going full time as an artist I had a plan. Let me share with you some simple strategies I use to make sure I stay as efficient, creative and productive as possible in my business. Some take discipline, but all have an impact. Weather you are a full time artist, aspire to become one or you simply want to focus on having a more creative life or business you will need to make changes and that is the tough part for all of us.
"The measure of intelligence is the ability to change". Albert Einstein
First I must say that there is no magic formula here. We are all unique and must find the best time and ways to apply these principles to our lives. I am a morning person so don't let that scare you when I talk about getting up at 4 am every day. OK sometimes I sleep till 5 but the point is this, I have a pattern I follow that works. I have built a successful art business by knowing what works best for me. I want to share how I have become a highly creative and productive artist. So here we go, lets build your dream life as you become a highly creative and productive artist.
The creative process is not controlled by a switch. It's within you all the time ready to be unleashed and set free.
Make a designated space to create.
Creative minds don't just happen, there is a process and you need to fuel this process to keep it going. You probably think to yourself, no one wakes up every morning jumps out of bed and starts creating! Well, I do! Why? Because I have a designated studio where I create and it makes me happy. I love my studio and love going in my studio to spend the day creating art in it. My work area is efficient, organized and productive. I have all my tools out and ready at all times. This makes creating possible and so much easier if you don’t have to clear up and lay things out each time you feel the need to create.
It does not matter how large or small your space is, what counts is that it is yours and you have a designated art space, work space and studio. So, you don't have a studio or designated space to create in? Where there is a will there is a way my grandmother use to say. Look around you, a corner of the living room, a closet, a porch, a bedroom nook, an attic, a basement. My friend converted her laundry room into her studio, how convenient because she has 3 boys and lots of laundry that needs to get done. All you need is a space to call yours, anything that will make the process of creating easier is a win. I lived in a motor home for 8 years and on a boat for 3 years and still had a designated space to create. They were small, very small but they worked and I ran my art business flawlessly.
Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the mold, making mistakes and having fun!
Create a space that inspires you.
The best way to feel creative is to surround yourself with things that inspire you. I am a mermaid and beach lover so I fill my studio with everything related to my happy little beachy world. Mermaids, shells my dog and I have collected, colored glass, pretty coffee cups and my dog Marley. It all makes me smile, brings joy and the vibrant colors around me make me come alive. You may like an all white studio to calm you or a space filled with family portraits to keep memories alive while you work. The point is this you need a space that inspires you to create and we are all different in what that means to us. Make it personal, make it yours.
I hang my art on all the walls, every inch I can to remind me of who I am and what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. I keep my coloring books out in plain view to remind me of how far I have come as an artist and how blessed I truly am. My husband bought me a lava lamp that means the world to me because I was never allowed to have one as a child and he remembered the stories of me always wanting one. My studio is filled with color, love and memories. So decorate your space, make it uniquely you, make it happy and that will inspire you to go to it each day and create. So what things inspire you to create?
Everyone starts the day with the same amount of time, it's how you use your time that counts. Track your day, write it down and see where you can make more time to create!
I'm not going to lie, this is going to be a hard one. Set a time you are going to create everyday and stick to it. Talk yourself into it, make it happen. Not once a week or month but every day, the more you work at creating a creative habit to create daily the easier it becomes. That was a mouth full but the truth is habits turn into progress and progress into productivity and that fuels your creativity. You can create pockets of time, an hour in the morning and maybe in the evening when the kids are asleep or the husband in my case. I’ve found that when you have momentum and are creating every day you can more easily systemize things.
I am aware that many people have non-negotiable structures built into their lives, like a job, childcare and so on, so having a specific time or times for creating can actually be useful and something to look forward to. I only require 5 hours of sleep a night. This means that I do have some extra hours most people do not have, don't hate me it's a gift and a curse. I am a very laid back person but I also have an artist's mind that fights with my business mind daily. There are things I know I need to do daily in order to be successful and make my business work so I have a set schedule for everything I do. If I didn’t block off times for everything that I have to get done nothing would get done because the artist in me says you can't make me but the business side of my brain says you know you have to or you'll be sorry!
I work 10 plus hours a day because I can and because I have a large work load that I am grateful for. I have publishers, clients and sites to run as well as FB and creating new art. I have a block of time for writing things like blog posts and articles, social media marketing, creating coloring books, communicating with potential buyers and artists, emails, working on custom pieces and creating my art. I have a schedule and I hate schedules! I am a free spirit we don't like schedules because we look at them as restricting when in fact a schedule will actually free you up to create more. My days are long but I choose to work long days this is my dream to make a living at art and it excites me and that fuels me to be creative and productive. I work from 4 am till about 9am on the computer then I switch to custom work that comes in, lunch and a break to play and walk my dog. Than off to work on my publishers books and my own art for the afternoon. Dinner with family and I usually go back to my studio because I love my little studio and love creating there.
I am not saying you have to work 12 hour days to be productive, I am suggesting that you will get more accomplished in your life when you learn to schedule your day into pockets of time. Of course my schedule will be different than yours, we each have to find what works for us. I am not as creative in the evenings my mind starts to slow down, some of my friends do their best creating after midnight, some only when the kids are at school. So start with a commitment of time everyday even if it is one hour a day. I truly believe that when we designate a time to create every day, get organized, make a schedule and set a ritual we are taking ourselves serious as creatives. We are taking our business serious and saying to the world "I am an artist!" We are setting ourselves up for success when we create every day!
The best way to start is to begin to integrate little creative habits into your life.
Create a ritual.
Artists are rebels, we need to create from a place of freedom. If you have a daily practice that empowers you then you will feel motivated, enlightened and free. My morning ritual that keeps me happy and excited to create every morning is to make a cup of coffee, light a candle, turn on some music (chick music in the morning like Adele), open every window and blind to let the light in during the day, do some deep breathing and stretching and then I sit down at my desk. I take 5-10 minutes to meditate and give thanks for the day while my computer is warming up and the coffee is kicking in.
Setting an intention before beginning can create an energetic space you learn to associate with creating. I have a ritual to begin and to close the day with. This ritual is a habit and because it's a habit it is now part of a routine that I don't even think about. Habits give our brains a bit of a break and get us repeating behaviors without a whole lot of work. My rituals make it easier to focus, create and accept what may come my way that day. Try setting up a ritual before you begin creating it will help you focus and set your mind in create mode.
Would you change your routine if it meant being more productive and creative!
I always wanted to be one of those hippie artists who ran around barefoot in the fields with a paintbrush in my hair and painted pretty flowers all day. Well I am a hippie, a laid back yoga loving artist by nature which means I do not want or like to put the time or energy into organizing. But I have learned over the years to be happy, creative, productive and pay the bills I needed to have more organization to my madness. It sounds stifling but in reality it is freeing. “What gets planned gets done.” If you want to eat healthily, you must plan for it. If you want to go on vacation, you must plan for it. If you want to create more art, you must plan for it. I learned over the past 20 plus years of selling art, I must set goals and develop a plan, a routine and a ritual. Failing to do so only slows down the growth of my business.
How much time do you spend looking for a certain pencil, marker, paper, file, tube of paint or paint brush? How much time do you spend cleaning up yesterdays mess to start todays art only to get discouraged before you even start? I have a place for everything I need daily out and ready to go but everything else goes in the closet. Declutter your work area. No clutter means no hunting for supplies, no confusion or chaos, no racking your brain trying to remember where you put something. I don't like to waist time so I make sure my studio stays organized, pencils to the left of me, markers to the right, papers hung or filed away. I even have a hanging file folders for that weeks work and a white board for deadlines and dates I need to remember.
You have most likely been saying to yourself YA or NA to things so far but remember you don't have to do any of the things I am suggesting. You can wake up when you want to, paint and draw when you feel like it and basically do what you want when you want. If that is working for you and you are a full time artist who makes good money doing it that way, good for you! But if you are a struggling artist, artist entrepreneur or business owner who needs help growing your business you need to examine my suggestions even if they go against your nature. I have not always been this organized, efficient and productive. I was a how does everyone do it type artist who asked myself what am I doing a lot. I had no plan and made not so great money for years until I discovered that organizing my art space, taking my work serious and treating it like a business worked just like everyone said it would.
Now take a look at you space can it use some organization? Is everything I need daily to create with out and ready to go? Is my space laid out well so I can create without thinking about cleaning it up first? Declutter your space and you will declutter your mind.
You can't use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.
Get your ideas out!
When you constantly practice being creative, you tend to explode with new ideas, find inspiration and feel more fulfilled. You need to get all those ideas out of you and onto some paper, computer or your tablet. Sketch them out, write them out, keeping them all in your head causes confusion and can lead to burnout. So create a dream board, a journal, a sketchbook, a scrapbook, a file, a Pinterest board, something to get all the ideas trapped in your head out and free.
Unloading all your ideas allows for more ideas! I have a file cabinet full of folders with sketches and ideas I add to daily, I also have a bulletin board I keep all the ideas for my coloring books pinned to and in front of me so I can think about what will be my next book I decide to do. I keep a journal for the more abstract ideas that pop into my head during the day like a line of dog jewelry and a better way to drink coffee and type at the same time. Get those ideas out of your head and onto paper or on your computer. I guarantee the more you free up space in your head the more creative ideas will pop into it.
Optimize your production. On any given day I have about 10 coloring books, 2-3 custom projects for customers and about 20 paintings I am working on. Not to mention all the ideas I am writing down and sketching. I get bored easily, so when my muse leaves me for one project I simply look to another. Not feeling like drawing dolphins today, I just grab another project I am working on. Drawing, painting, writing, creating, I find when one becomes tiresome I switch it up. Some people call it multi tasking I call it production.
"Creativity takes courage". Henri Matisse
Take time to just be.
I often get asked where do you get all your ideas from? The answer is simple, I take time daily to just sit and be. Who has not obsessed over something they read on Facebook or saw on TV or words they had with someone close to them. Who isn't thinking during the day about what they are going to make for dinner or the Dentist appointment they have that week or the bills? You run it over and over in your head, our minds are so busy and filled with everyday stuff that it blocks our creative process. This is called mental clutter.
During the day I find times periodically to just sit and be. This means I shut out the world, the noise, the distractions and clear my head. Find a place where you can shut out the world for just a few moments, I use my studio but a bathroom, a backyard a car ride, you just need silence. Now say to yourself "Let it go". keep repeating this until you begin to find yourself thinking about something peaceful or a good memory or a favorite spot you love to go to relax. Now that you are in a more relaxed state let your creative mind open up. Start thinking of colors, shapes, things you want to draw or paint. Ask yourself "What do I want to create today?" The more you purposely cultivate a creative mindset, the richer your creative life becomes.
Creative isn't the way I think it is the way I live my life.
Get rid of distractions. The phone, computer, television, family and friends. This sounds harsh but you can not create in full mode when you are dealing with other things. Your mind will wonder, you will lose focus and end up drinking a bottle of wine in your studio with your bestie instead of creating. OK that is just me but you need to stay focused to be creative and productive. Turn them off, shut them down. Take breaks to make calls or return calls, check the computer or watch TV. My family knows not to disturb me during my studio time, they wait for my breaks or my husband emails and texts me throughout the day even though he is only in the next room. This may sound funny and it is, but he knows I take my work seriously and he respects me, my business and my studio time.
Leonardo da Vinci has become the ultimate archetype of the creative genius. Leonardo had a process, it included a plan and years of effort and hard work.
Don't overthink or judge yourself. Learn to enjoy the creative process.
Take all the pressures of life away and what are you left with? FUN! PEACE! JOY! Overthinking for an artist is death. Perfectionism is death, Comparing yourself to others is death. OK that was extreme but all these things are not going to make you a better artist they are going to drag you down and destroy your confidence. Let it go, control your thinking process, train your mind to create not compare.
Every great artist has a closet full of bad art.
Take time to refuel. Get out of the house!
This one may require you to go out of your comfort zone. Every experience we have in life inspires us in some way. So take time either daily, weekly or monthly to do something new. Go for a walk in the park in fact try a different park, take a yoga class, sit and people watch, picnic at the beach, lunch date with friends, go to a museum, travel, go to an art gallery, take a long drive. Soak it up, get out and see new things, new places. The more we experience in life the more we have to pull from. Even the little things in life like trying a new ice cream flavor can excite your mind and spark new ideas.
I have never had burnout as an artist because I learned from an art teacher at an early age to take a time out when I hit a road block creatively. I spend time with my dog, I usually take my dog to the dog park or beach and then a long drive and that fuels my creative soul because my dog makes me laugh and relax and we meet new people and other happy dogs. Find something to do to refuel you. When you’re in a new setting, exposed to new things, experiencing and seeing something different, your brain releases dopamine- a neurotransmitter that is linked to creativity. If you start feeling like you’re in a creative rut, go do something new.
Invest in YOU!
Good tools. Invest in yourself.
My husband has a saying in business "You need to spend money to make money". That means that I will spend money on the tools I need to make my work and life easier. I take myself serious enough as an artist to know that a great workspace, a big desk, a good computer, a professional easel, good quality paints, pencils, pens, canvas etc.... will help me be more productive. If you can not afford it save for it like you would a vacation or a new designer purse. Having good tools to work with makes creating easy, fun, exciting. It also says you take yourself and your business serious enough to invest in YOU!
"Inspiration exists but it has to find you working". Pablo Picasso
Surround yourself with positive and knowledgeable people.
When I decided to take my art full time I followed my peers on their websites. I wanted to learn from professionals who were doing amazing art and were successful, productive and creative. As artists we can not grow above what advice we take so I highly advise you to keep your art circle small and only fill it with other artists who are successful in their field. It is easy to get stuck when you are taking advice from everyone you meet, every forum you are on and every blog you may read. Everyone wants to give advice these days but who are you getting your creative advice from?
I learned over the years to only take business advice from people who are doing the work and successful at what they do. That does not mean I will not listen to suggestions on new coloring book ideas or what new markers are recommended to me. It simply means I will not discuss my art, business plans and marketing with someone who is not qualified based on their own business. I learned very quickly when I started my art journey that everyone does not have your back and everyone is not on your side. Be selective in who you listen to and ask advice from. I love positive people, they have an energy about them that is contagious. Positive people lift you up, support you and don't mess with your confidence. Get more of them in your life! Stay positive, be positive and you will feel more energy.
You can't wait for inspiration to come to you, you have to go after it.
Every day people, friends and family and sometimes strangers write me about ideas and what they think I should create next. I am grateful for their input, I take it all in, say thank you and then process it all. I use some of it and am grateful but in the end I stay true to who I am, I stay true to my style and what makes me happy rather than what the market dictates. I never try to emulate another artist although I do appreciate certain artists and their styles that motivate me.
Stay focused on your plans so you are not swayed by what you hear or see everyday. If you find your mind wondering and all over the place, take a breath, make a plan, write it all down. Focus on you, your work and your goals. Writing down your goals and plans energizes us and sparks creativity. I brainstorm with my husband daily because we have had many businesses together over the years and he is an entrepreneur. I call them emergency business lunches at the local diner he calls them lunch.
Making bad art is better than making no art. Go create something!
I hear a lot of artists say I don't have a style. I believe to much emphasis has been put on this little statement. You don't have to be original you just have to be true to who you are and a style will emerge from you. I love drawing mermaids that is actually a passion or maybe an obsession. But I just keep drawing and painting them and over and over and my style has evolved and changed and grown. Isn't that the point of being an artist to grow and challenge ourselves? Just keep creating and producing art and you will see your style develop and grow. You will become less focused on originality and more on being true to who you are. Don't wait for a style to happen before you start to create, start creating and your style will come naturally. To be original you just have to be different not the first.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”~ Dr Seuss
Know your limits. Love, accept, and forgive yourself daily.
I am sure you have the best intentions of getting something done that you wanted to accomplish, but somehow something got in the way. Instead of beating yourself up over it, accept it, and forgive yourself. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t obsess about every idea having to be fabulous, not all of your ideas will be fabulous, not all your work will be perfect, mind blowing and a masterpiece and that is OK.
I am not and have never been a perfectionist. I do my best and put my work out to be enjoyed by others. I do make mistakes, many of my girls I draw have 6 fingers on one hand or 4 toes instead of 5 on a foot. I had a cover for one of my publishers where I left a hand off a fairy completely. Yikes!I laugh at myself a lot and shake my head then I start again. I know my limits as far as creating what I love to create and creating because it simply pays money. I will not take jobs that I know I will struggle with and would be better suited for another artist. I do not do cars, machines, buildings. I am asked all the time to draw custom cars and motorcycles, this is not my area and that is OK. I refer the work to other artists and they do the same for me.
Being creative and productive every day as an artist takes work. Making art, selling art, marketing art takes a lot of planning and dedication. It does not matter if you are selling art for extra income or you are selling art to support your family, if you are selling art you need to have a plan. You have to be self-motivating and willing to put in your best effort every day and work for what you want to achieve. Bottom line, you need to stay creative and productive every day in order to generate a consistent income selling art. Try implementing one or two of my ways I have shared. If they work and help you create more then try another and keep going until you have the creative and productive artist's life you imagined.
Happy Creating! XO
Peace, Love and ART!
Hi everyone! I am Deborah Muller or the Chubby Mermaid. I am an artist, doodler, illustrator and gypsy at heart. I have been a full time, non starving artist for over 20 years. I am a creative encourager who loves color, the beach and travel. Welcome to my magical little world!