Professional me-time

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while and I heard myself say it out loud more than once lately. That’s usually the sign that I mean it and I should take action. So I’ll say it out loud again: I want will have what I now call a ‘study sabbatical’. I need some time to explore my illustration further, play with different materials, follow art classes, sketch, practice, get inspired, play and learn. I want to see what I make when there is no client expecting something specific. Of course while doing client work I learn a lot too, but there is always the pressure of time and outcome. It has to be good (enough). And that kind of kills the experiment. There is usually no room for error, so I play it safe. That way growth comes slowly and I find myself struggling with the same things over and over.

I keep painting the color wheels and never get to the actual illustration, so to speak.

A little too often after finishing a job I think “I should really dive into perspective more” or “I should find a good class on lights and shadow” or “I should really start practicing figure drawing” etc. etc. “So? You don’t work 12 hours a day right… go do some courses, play and learn”, you say? Of course, and I do. But I start something, get interrupted by a job that actually pays the bills and it disappears to the background. And even if I manage to finish the course I never get around to actually practice and use what I’ve learned. It feels like I keep starting over. I keep painting the color wheels and never get to the actual illustration, so to speak.

All the things that I feel I should be doing, that will benefit me and my work are always on the bottom of my to-do list because there are always deadlines first that are more important. Work has been busy and the very last thing this exploring needs to be is another chore on my to-do list. That’s not going to work, I need room in my schedule and in my head.

I shut her up and tell myself it’s the best gift I could give myself

So I am making that room. First in my schedule and hopefully my head will follow. This will be my new job: I work for me now. I want to give myself 6 months, starting in September. I don’t know if that sounds long or short to you. To me it sounds like way too short one day and the next day I feel like 6 months is forever and everybody will have forgotten all about me when I am ready for client work again. I will obviously end up jobless and broke with nowhere to go. I can hear that nasty voice in the back of my head, but I shut her up and tell myself it’s the best gift I could give myself. A bit of time to reflect, to get my priorities straight, to consciously choose what I want to take on and what not.

And hopefully after these months of exploration I will not go back to how things are now. The goal is to slowly let client work back in, very consciously and only to the point where I find the right balance between work and play.

I am not sure yet what I want to do about social media, sharing experiments and progress etc. It might be a good time to really focus on me and don’t let the outside world interfere at all.

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