As a follow-up to my time management blog, I wanted to expand on how I balance professional and personal art in my own life. Right now I work mostly from home. I still get large freelance assignments so finding a balance was big for me.
1.) Set clear boundaries for when you do and don't work on professional assignments. (If you can).
I'm lucky enough where I don't have massive amounts of work so I can set my schedule and stick to it. I work on my freelance work during the week only until 5pm, and then on weekends and after 5pm I work on my personal work. It's important for me not to blur those lines, or I can get burnt out really fast, especially because working from home there is no leaving the work place at the end of the day. My schedule helps me feel more motivated to do job work too.
2.) Detach yourself from the internet.
Sometimes at the end of a long day of working for someone else, the last thing you want to do is more art. If you really want to get your own work done, try turning off the internet, turning off the TV and putting on noise cancelling headphones to get in the zone. Music helps to keep me inspired to continue working.
3.) Consider having 1 or 2 larger personal projects, instead of many small ones.
Last summer, I was just making one picture at a time. But I found that it was hard to get motivated after finishing each one, and hard to come up with new ideas every time that I liked. What I'm doing right now is a large design project. I read this book called "Revolution", about a modern day girl who reads a diary about a girl from the French Revolution. In order to give a focus to my portfolio and skill building, I decided to design all (or most) of the environments and characters described in the books. I spent a lot of time researching reference pictures, going to the library, and combing through the book to write down all of the author's descriptions for what I wanted to draw. I've found that since it's something I enjoy, and it gives me a large amount of small goals to reach, it's easier to get motivated to work on it. This way if I have a really busy week, I can just color a character sheet, or sketch an 18th century hat. I'm still working and contributing to an ultimate goal, but I don't have to spend all that creative energy trying to come up with a project every time. So finding something that gives a focus to your personal work, may make it easier to set aside time.