Have you ever found yourself struggling to finish the project you are working on? Do you have deadlines that you need to meet, but just can’t bring yourself to complete your work because you’re unhappy with what you’re working on? When you don’t enjoy the work you are doing, completing it can be a struggle. Everyone has felt this way at a time in their life (not just artists), whether in school, at a previous job, or a current job.
At the end of one of Bobby and Masae’s 90-minute art challenges, the question of what you should do if you aren’t enjoying your work was raised. Bobby Chiu, Masae Seki, and Schoolism instructor Wouter Tulp took turns sharing their insights through personal experience and personal reflection.
In the art world, it can be difficult to pursue your passion when a paying job in another area is staring you in the face. There is nothing wrong with taking the job, even though it may be outside your interests, but try to find the time to pursue your passion for art. To an outsider, art may seem like a hobby rather than a career, but it can be either or both, with dedication.
Here are 9 things you could do when you aren’t enjoying your work:
Remember that Not Enjoying Your Work is Temporary:
As mentioned earlier, it can be challenging to decline a job. Many jobs in the art world are billed as separate projects unless you work full time at a studio and have little control over the projects you are given. A single project that takes a few weeks or a few months is easier to accomplish because there is a deadline. At the end of the project, you can relight the flame of inspiration for something new and do artwork for yourself instead of someone else.
Every situation is temporary if you make an effort to change it. It may take months or years to have complete control again, but you will get there if you take the time. In the meantime, use your spare time to complete projects that you are passionate about.
Turn Down a Project:
When you have the experience of knowing what you like and dislike, turning down a project becomes easier. You are aware of what you struggle with or honestly know what will be hard for you to accomplish. Turning down a project is a luxury that not everyone can attain, but the freedom to choose your projects is the dream of many artists.
Bobby mentioned that there are projects that he is offered that he turns down because he knows he will not enjoy the process. It does not mean that he is incapable of accomplishing these tasks, but he chooses to avoid work that will cause him extra stress and strain. Just be cautious about turning down a project in a new area of study. You may find that you like it.
Build Your Portfolio to Get Back to Enjoying Making Art:
If you look in your portfolio and find that it is filled with art that you did not enjoy making or your interests have changed over the years, do your best to fill it with what you are interested in. This will help future clients get a better idea of what you are looking for and can see if it matches their project, rather than you trying to meet everyone’s needs on your own.
The example Bobby uses is splash art, which is prominent in the video game world. There are endless possibilities when it comes to splash art and if that is your current interest, try to add some to your portfolio. By doing this, you not only add to your portfolio but you showcase your talents. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Find Your Passion:
Leaving a job to pursue your passion is another luxury that many do not get the opportunity to achieve. It requires financial stability and the support of family and friends. If you sit at your desk every day and wish for something else, only you can make it happen. Staying in your current position can potentially hinder your growth, and you can lose out on a great opportunity.
You may find yourself going through different periods in your life that affect your art. Art is a natural progression, and it evolves as you learn more about yourself. Your personal experiences are what make your art unique. Use your perspective to create something no one has seen before.
Seek Inspiration to Overcome Not Having Fun Creating Art:
Inspiration to create lies in various places. Masae Seki finds inspiration on Instagram by following accounts she finds appealing. Your inspiration doesn’t have to be the exact same style as you are currently working on. It only has to inspire you to make something new. Masae follows a variety of artists, from someone who does “Magic: The Gathering” cards, to another that works on illustrations for children’s books.
Getting inspiration from a variety of styles and industries can be helpful but also detrimental if you aren’t careful. It can be tempting to want to do every style that you find interesting, but it can end up hurting your progress in techniques you are already familiar with. Masae makes a list of the expert artists she aspires to be like and keeps them in mind as she works.
Personal goals can help you strive for something rather than working with no destination in mind. If you find yourself thinking every day that you don’t like where you are right now, a goal is step one to changing that. Goals can be small or large and short-term or long-term. If you have long-term goals, try breaking those down into smaller ones to demonstrate your progress.
Everyone has dreams, but it is essential to differentiate these from goals. A goal is an attainable achievement that can be worked toward, even when the road gets rough, and a dream is what happens when everything goes right. Dreams are also attainable, but there are many minor goals that have to be attained before you get there.
Focus on Loving Your Job Making Art:
Another approach to inspiration is to focus on your own art and not look at other artists’ work. There is a fine line between inspiration and competition. When looking at another artist’s work, you should be cautious of the need to be better than them. In art, there is no right or wrong way to create, and every piece is an interpretation of a subject.
Focusing on your own art can help you find your unique style and voice and help you create work that is purely you. There are some people that are driven by competition, but for many, the competition hinders their ability to create.
Look For Inspiration Wherever You Go:
All around you, there is the potential for something to spark and inspire you to create. Your everyday life is full of shapes and colors that can be translated to paper, canvas, or the screen. The shape of the trees on an afternoon walk or the way the water reflects in a puddle can provide the boost you need to get out of your rut.
What you are inspired by does not have to be other art or nature at all. It can be music or a video game. There is inspiration around every corner. You just have to let it find you.
Take More Classes:
There is always more to learn about any topic. Get yourself out of a rut by taking an art class online or taking your sketchbook to a park to draw for an afternoon. Even the best artists have to work hard to improve and maintain their skills. Every new skill has to be cultivated and enhanced, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a master after only a few lessons.
Take your time learning and try to learn something new every day. This can take the monotony out of a tedious task and help you enjoy your current project. Online classes are always available, and some of them are free for anyone to participate in. Make an effort to develop your skills and pursue the style of your dreams.
Don’t Settle as an Artist, Push Through and Get Back to Enjoying Your Work:
A career in art has its ups and downs, even more so than other careers. Artists put themselves into their work, and it is a reflection of who they are as an individual. The technique is the foundation, but the beauty of the artwork comes from the inspiration and determination of the artist.
If you have found that you don’t enjoy what you are working on, do your best to change your circumstances as soon as you can. The longer you are stagnant in that position, the less likely you will be able to change your direction. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a complete shift later in your career. It just might be challenging to change.
Financial stability is essential in today’s economy, and there is a lot to be said about a paying job, even one you don’t like. An artist who works independently or owns their own studio has more freedom to choose the projects they work on. Your peers are there to support your decisions and help you however they can. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you aren’t enjoying your work.