The peculiar stress of being a self-employed artist and how to deal with it.

Its a wonderful life, you are an artist, it’s how you make your money, you are doing what you love to do, life couldn’t be sweeter… all very true, but there is another side.

“Isolation, financial pressures, irregular hours and an inability to switch off can lead to common mental health disorders among freelancers, say experts”

One of the biggest problems is how your friends and family perceive your life style.  I wonder, does any of this sound familiar…   You cant complain because: You manage your own hours, you can take time out for exercise, you can meet friends for coffee, you only work when you want to, you can sit for a long lazy breakfast when you have visitors staying, you can be there to look after grandchildren, you are the go to person for that special card, “just do a quick sketch, they will be so pleased”  You are your own boss!  It can build up to a tsunami of guilt, frustration and panic attacks if you are not very careful.  After all you are having to manage the feelings and expectations of your nearest and dearest, so your mental health tends to come last…if at all.

So, as you are actually your own boss what do you do to cope?  This is what I do to help with the peculiar stress of being a self-employed artist…

All of the below,  in no particular order…and it really does help!

Learn how to say no, kindly.

Take yourself and your work seriously (this helps when you are asked to do favours for friends because “you are at home all day”)

Organise your work very strictly, make schedules and timetables and stick to them.

Get Artlook for Artists and have all your work documented and in one place and keep it up to date.

Keep a notebook/diary of all your tasks, written and on your phone

Schedule time in your studio for “messing about”, copying other artists work, making colour mixing charts, playing with paint…this is so very important and hugely necessary.

Keep monthly charts (in your notebook) for time spent on job related activities. (useful if you have ongoing freelance work with clients)

Have post labels, commission contracts, CV or artist statements, press style images all in one folder on your computer desktop.

Spend time setting up everything you can think of for a project and keep it in a properly labelled folder on your computer.

Be very strict with time on social media, its important for artists but it needs to be kept in its cage!

Give yourself realistic time slots for everything.

Schedule some tasks (mindless ones) for the evening.

Have a big wall calendar and plan your year, as far as you can, setting targets for exhibitions and deadlines.

Make just ten minutes a day to sit still, no radio, no music.

Sit down for some lunch.

Make a cup of tea.

That’s what I do (most of the time)…what do you do, any suggestions very welcome!


About Sarah

Sarah Wimperis is a professional artist and illustrator and also works for Artlook in Client Support and as our Artist Ambassador. Sarah's Artlook website is here.