This week’s post is a short-ish one of just small tidbits of advice I’ve tried to keep in mind while I work. Don’t need to read this as concrete rules, but take time to honestly evaluate your work habits and strive to make yourself more productive as an artist.
1. Take intentional breaks to critique yourself
To clarify, I mean take short breaks about every 1-2 hours. Step away from your work to let your brain recharge. I like to pin my current drawing on a wall and look at it 10 feet away. Your brain can naturally detect slight asymmetries. But first you need to detach yourself from your drawing in order to see them. The best time to take a break is after you’ve completed your sketch and prior to laying down color. This is because it’s far easier to correct mistakes early on, rather than having to rework several areas at the finish line.
2. Make templates of your commonly used sizes
This tip applies to artists working on paper (sorry canvas painters). Personally, I offer 3 different sizes in my Etsy store: 5 inches by 7 inches, 8 inches by 10 inches, and 9 inches by 12 inches. The paper pads I buy are 9”x12”. Therefore, I made templates that are 5”x7” and 8”x10” out of sturdy Bristol paper. Now instead of using a ruler and measuring the paper each time, I can just align the template to the corner of the paper and mark my dimensions in 5 seconds!
Bonus tip: Cut paper in batches. Since you already have your ruler and knife out to cut one sheet of paper, cut at least a dozen to save you time. Future you will thank you.
3. Put your phone away
I have also used my phone as a convenient distraction to play PokemonGo or check my Instagram notifications. The easy solution is to just put the phone in another room, out of reach. Or if you need to have access to your phone, turn all notifications on silent. Nothing’s better at breaking your art zone concentration with beeping notifications every fifteen minutes.
4. Prepare yourself for Art Block
Artist block is real folks. And it’s a huge time killer if you’re just staring at a blank piece of paper. I have a folder on my computer with of just random images that I’ve found interesting. It’s filled with pictures of animals, flowers, people, etc. If I need motivation, there’s a place I know I can pull references that I already know I’ll like. Pinterest is also another good way to save images that you’ve found inspiring.
5. Keep an accurate inventory of supplies
I have to confess that I’ve failed to do this on multiple occasions. I’ve had to do emergency runs to art stores after realizing that I’m on my last piece of paper or burned through the end of my favorite colored pencil. Think about how much time (and money) that costs you. It may just seem like thirty minutes for a short stop, but if you’re doing that at least once a week – that adds up to 3 hours of unnecessary errands a month!
Do you have any tips that have helped you become more productive? I’d love to read them in the comments below.