A few years ago, I published a post on Facebook asking the following:
I'm thinking about starting something new: I want to try creating a community of people who have creative side projects and are willing to share their work with others. One of the things I miss most from college is not just studying fine art, but having a place to share and talk about my work with other people. If you or someone you know feels the same way, has a creative project, and is based in NYC, let me know below!
I received a number of responses, launched a Facebook group, and led conversations about the creative projects people were working on. What I discovered then was that there are a lot of people like me; they harbor a creative passion that competes with their professional day job. The challenge wasn't having a lack of creativity, ideas, or talent - it was how to make the time. After all, we all have the same amount of it. You've heard the sayings:
What does a baby have that an old man doesn't, and a rich man wishes he had? Time.
It takes10,000 hours to master a skill.
You have the same 24 hours as Beyonce.
The lesson is that time is finite, and the difference between those who successfully accomplish their goals and those who don't is committing to making the time.
Whether I'm speaking to my NYC-based agency colleagues, my sister in Illinois who is a working mom, or my creative design friend in LA who aspires to write, I feel that everyone is looking for ways to maximize their time and to be more productive, with the same amount of time each day. Even I find myself every year after the holidays making a resolution to overall be more productive.
In recent years, I have tried to recall what worked for me during some of my most productive years of my life: my college years. I was beyond ambitious and truly a maximizer. Not only was I a full time student who graduated with honors, but I had internships, a part-time job off campus, membership in multiple campus clubs, a radio show and a painting practice. I was able to do it all by scheduling everything down to the hour, including hours I needed to spend on homework in my dorm room, in my school's art studio, or visiting my professors during their office hours.
Whenever I set aside time to work on art or write and need to explain why I can't attend social engagements (or have to ignore my husband for a while), I tell people I'm doing my "Creative Office Hours", directly referencing when professors would make time to be available for students. Too often, when we say we don't have time to do work we're passionate about, it's because we don't make ourselves available for ourselves. Work, social engagements, relationships, or just plain exhaustion gets in the way.
Accountability is also an important tactic when it comes to being productive and pursuing goals. For years I had an idea of launching a blog to document my creative work but of course, work got in the way. Last year, my sister Angela, who studies Expressive Arts Therapy, gave me the push to work on developing this site out. We've had multiple discussions about what it means to be creative, why it's so important, and how everyone has the right to flex their creative muscle to express themselves and build their talents.
I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the idea of "working creatives", whose very livelihood are based on using their creative skills and talents. When people think of fine art, they might imagine the trust fund kid slumming it in a gentrified neighborhood who uses family connections to sell their paintings for $10,000. There is a proof that the more wealthy your family is, the more likely you are to be a creative. However, I feel that art isn't exclusively a luxury for the affluent. Individuals from humble means have the right to creatively express themselves, and if they're enough at it, leverage it to support themselves.
However, there aren't a lot of handbooks on how to make it as a working artist. How do you find the time? What resources do you need? How do you make money? Do you really need to post on Instagram every day? There is the advice of following your passion no matter what, and if not now, then when, and money isn't everything. However, there are far less jobs for creatives today that don't consume all of their time and energy, mostly because of the decline of record stores, book stores, most stores period. Money indeed isn't everything, but it can certainly help you be independent and support your craft. Many of the greats had to work a day job. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote during his lunch breaks. Andy Warhol had a successful career in advertising before beginning his artistic practice. Mozart taught music lessons.
"Creative Office Hours" is about showing up, putting in the time and taking yourself seriously as a creative. My vision is to provide practical resources on how to evolve your creative practice in the modern world, both from myself and sourced from a working creative community.
As of now, it's a blog with content about my own creative practice, and guidance based on my own experiences trying to commit to my creative practice. In the future, I hope to make it so much more.
I'd love to grow "Creative Office Hours" as a community, where working creatives can connect, share their experiences and the work they do and motivate others to commit to their creative practice.
Here's to hoping this is a start of building an amazing community that encourages people to commit and make the time to create.