Poll: Are you working yourself stupid in pursuit of your passion?
You do not have permission to vote in this poll.
Yes, kill me now.
8 38.10%
Yep, but they enable me.
1 4.76%
Nope, I'm priveledged.
4 19.05%
No, and I'm doing ok.
8 38.10%
Total 21 vote(s) 100%
* You voted for this item. [Show Results]

Why You Shouldn't Be Overworking Yourselves
This is directed at people who, like myself, have to support themselves through one or many non-art-related employment roles. I personally work in three positions currently with a seasonal job beginning again in the coming months. There are many people who have the desire to pursue art but are not currently in a position to do so financially. Many Daggers have shared stories of them working 50+ hours in a week and either earning pittance or simply being too burnt out to make consistent studies in their field. The reason why we take on such a large workload can range widely. If you're situated in a country where work is not paid substantially or lack of resources require you to relocate, ART can often take a sideline when we factor in MONEY as a directive, especially as today it can be difficult to earn from your art when you're still learning. 

Some members might be concerned about 'starting late'. Admittedly it can be very stressful to already be an adult in a relatively established position and uproot and redirect that energy into something new and altogether unpredictable. The fear and regret that we didn't choose to take the appropriate academic pathways to assist us can be crippling. 

Whether you want to save for study or travel or tools for your art, working harder to earn faster does not get you any closer. Regretting the opportunities you didn't take advantage of will only waste time and put you down. More importantly, if you put money over your own well-being, your art will suffer for it. The comments made by people about being 'burnt out' aren't lies. By pursuing work that is unrelated to your desire to pursue art, you will place undue strain and fatigue on your mind and body. By the time you do have a moment set aside for your passion - there is no passion, and you simply rest until it's time to work again. 

I've gone through all this, and I've made a choice to not be so concerned about the Money. People have gotten by on less, and to be honest any extra money I make tends to be spent on impulse buys like take-out, replacing worn clothing, and doctor's visits. It's unhealthy to be so overextended, and being so unhealthy is expensive. 

If there are people reading who feel in the same position, that their art suffers from committing time and energy away from their art, I say redirect it. Find a job that enables your art, not hinders it, or at the very least learn and research how to get by and take advantage of what you can now

And if you ever have to work more than one job - don't ever work more than two. Not three, and by god in hell never four... You will be a crazy drunk like me. What's good.


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Hear hear. Good to hear you are coming to a better balance. Also drinking and painting...I have done too, and it became a habit, and it's shite. Your work doesn't get better because of it, and your health and brain cells in general take a beating. I'd really recommend trying to cut that shit out as much as possible too.

The old adage always works, because it's so damn useful: "Everything in moderation", yes even Art.

As a side note, having come through the ringer of working full time, long hours and then doing art on top of that, I can actually say that unless you are crazy disciplined, having only a restricted number of hours to paint, and having a contrast point (such as a day job unrelated to art) is a great motivator to get you to spend those hours more productively.
I know for a fact without my day job, I wouldn't have made as many gains over the years, as I have. Again balance is the key. No need to work 50+ hours a week. I took the salary hit of a 4 day week, made just enough money to cover bills only, and still had enough restriction to be motivated, and enough time to not feel crazy pressure or lose a lot of sleep.

Here's to wishing a better balance for you RP! Take control of your actions and gear them towards specific goals intelligently and you will do well!

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
I've been living like a monk the last few years. I buy the cheapest, healthiest food I can afford and pretty much only drive to and from work. Luckily my rent is pretty cheap and its only a 10 minute commute. Granted I'm not as hard working as other people working 50 plus hours but its slowly crushing my soul. I've gotten burnt out the last month with all the holiday bullshit at work. I was running on mostly sheer will power the last few years with only momentary burst of passion. Passion only seems to last a day or two at most anyways.

I need to reread The War of Art. I highly recommend it if you havnt Rotten. Dont kick yourself over not having the passion to art after work. You cant rely on that stuff anyways. And I cant even make myself draw or paint if I've been drinking. We all have some kind of vise to wrestle with I guess. Perhaps its best to take a step back from it all and find your appreciation for being alive again. Try doing some kind of physical activity everyday to release stress.


Good to hear! I have cut back on the hooch :D I put it to Christmas and new years for getting off it. Seven days of continuous celebratory food and drink. My liver needs to recover. And I suppose it really is just another of life's obstacles, but because we rely on being employed to get by, it can seem more like a rut.

@Adam Lina

Yeah, if I see family size pasta meals on sale for $1.50 I'll bag that shit and freeze it. That's if I have the time for groceries, with hours like, leave the house at 5 get home at 9, I mostly eat out. It's become more and more important to use what time I do have spare to plan ahead, so that there is time to recoup and not just keep the hamster wheel running. I'll make a note of that book, and one of the changes I plan on making with these lesser hours is to go places and appreciate my own time. Thx dude.


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well here i am with all the time in the world. this past few years.i have locked myself in my house training myself the best that i could be yet i felt like i couldve done better. i gave myself schedules that i never ever committed to like ever. ive tried working s minimum 8 hours a day. i tried as much as i could in disciplining myself yet there will be times (there's alot) where i just procrasinate and not get any job done not to mention burnouts in between ( month gaps where i literally stop doing anything art related)

so what i like to say is having all the time in the world is not gonna help you if youre not passionate about this field and to be passionate, you need to be crazy disciplined . especially if you're learning this by yourself. im abit ashamed about this really but sadly i just couldn't do this by myself.

im applying for a job next month its gonna be a 10 hour shift. ive never worked before in my life, i dont really know what there is to expect but im gonna take it as a learning experience as well as the hope that itll give me the motivation and focus that i need to the remaining 2 hours of my day to work on my craft.

I know it sounds ridiculous that im only going to work "just for the experience".
well of course its not just that. I still need to do my part in the family.

but yeh thanks RP for the thought provoking post.

No problem! I needed to bring up the topic in order to gain a better understanding of it myself. I agree with you that having all the time in the world is useless if we don't have the drive to pursue whatever we intend. Having that feeling everytime I leave for work where I have a great idea and would much rather turn around and go home to develop it - it tells me I know art is what I want to pursue.

Good luck in your job venture, and I hope you develop that sense of focus you feel you need.


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Hi! I just got a full time job last week. It is non art related. What I think about it you guys already said.

1. My savings were sold out. so I need that money.
2. It is something I never did before. I'm taking this as a new experience for my life.
3. Now that I will have less time to paint I hope to focus more and let it be a motivator.
4. Balance things.

Great topic for a discussion. That would be nice to keep this thread working. I will try to come back here and tell if my points above changed after some time working in my new job.

thanks guys!

Congrats iamorim!

I've only ever gotten casual positions and juggle them - getting even a part time contract is an accomplishment. And I'm glad you do see it as adding to your experience rather than taking time away from it. 

Do keep us updated! Sharing your accomplishments will be very helpful for new readers and any shortfalls you have you might find help with here. 

Myself I'm currently trying to train my replacement in one job but the other staff either don't show up or don't do their job so it's going to be like my other job where I quit six months ago and am still there because they have no one else...


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The word 'overworking' is subjective. Mom says a lot that I need to go out more and not stay cooped up. Don't get me wrong, she is totally right. But, I'd rather hammer this art thing down.

It's hard to see them seeing me like this. Look it, a full grown adult leeching off and still living with his parents. A part time job in a family business which horribly feels like a dole out. And for what? To make time for this art thing to work out? It is grossly pathetic if you think about it.

It's a huge struggle, (or if I may boldly say, impossible), to make art as a primary source of income here and getaway with living a comfortable life. Not worrying about food, rent, eventual unavoidable hospital bill, and whatsoever. There's this story from an older artist friend I know that scares the bejeezus out of me. He knows this guy who had to inject artificial cartilage in both his kneecaps. Twenty grand (in USD) for both operations. I wouldn't be surprised if 'til this day, even with all the money he had borrowed, he's still paying for his kneecaps.

In the coming months, I'll be assimilated into the business if nothing happens career-wise with what I'm doing. Assimilated, like how a mob member gets assimilated: once you get in, there's no 'out'. Which means, kiss working for *insert-entertainment-company here* goodbye. In fact, I'm already bracing myself for that inevitable event. On one hand, it's good money, great business experience, very comfortable lifestyle, and it's a good road to being 'successful'. On the other, let's just say the main reason why I'm so adamant about the whole thing is, I'm sure I'd be going against my core principles to do the job.

And math. I am horrible at math.

That's the reason why there's a need to for me 'overwork'. I'm putting the word in quotes because it's as if I'm not doing enough. It's been years since I've started with this and I'm already seeing the end of the line. I swear, really need to get outta here to do work and just live. Or at the very least give that thought a fighting chance.

Seeing you reading this til the end, congratulations on stomaching this disgusting, privileged, drama queen bullshit rant!

If you are reading this, I most likely just gave you a crappy crit! What I'm basically trying to say is, don't give up!  
IG: @thatpuddinhead
Hey John, I think we've all gone through/are going through similar things as self-taught artists. It's not an easy road.

I will suggest a couple of things that may or may not help. The first is that you are right in one sense; our situation in life and how fulfilled we feel by it and our general happiness is almost entirely dictated by our perceptions of it. One person's situation may seem like a cakewalk to others or the most horrible thing in the world, but it will all ultimately come down to how we view our own life.

I put forward the idea that whatever may happen to change circumstances for you, should never be viewed as a life sentence or some sort of penance or tragedy. It should be viewed as a life experience to be embraced and learned from. Whenever we prejudge how things are going to be, we are actually putting our belief full force behind our own actions that will invariably cause these things to be brought into the world. If you see going full time at the business as a thing you can't get out of, to be endured as a sacrifice to your happiness, guess what? You definitely will not be happy and it will become a life sentence. I know this is a very hard thing to do, but you have to live your life in a flow state as much as possible savouring each moment and engaging with it rather than pandering to fantasies. That includes how you deal with shit that might not go down the way you hope or imagine. Accept it and grow from it and see where it takes you.

The other thing I have to say is that even if you are forced into this family business full-time, unless you are a total slave I imagine you would still have your own free time to do with what you want. There is absolutely nothing to stop you from carrying on with art, and making it to working as a professional. Nothing. Nothing at all. The only thing that can really stop you from doing what you want, is you. So don't let yourself do it man.

I went through my whole initial self-teaching while working full time with only nights and weekends to work on my art. So that's all I knew, and it is totally and utterly possible. Also after going fulltime with art, I realised that I was WAY more productive and effective when I was working. The shorter timeframes meant I didn't fuck around. Yeah I also at times had this sense of having to kill myself at the painting in order to get out into what I wanted, and while that probably helped me with my output, it may not have totally helped with my efficiency at learning. At the worst of times it was a pretty shitty miserable existence. Every moment you are conscious you have a choice to be miserable and resigned to your lot or to be engaged by it and help you learn, grow and develop. I would never have imagined that I would be saying the day job which I hated so much (even though I enjoyed many aspects of the work) was more because of how I viewed my time there rather than anything inherently awful. Of course there will be a scale of how bad things are, but this same thing is true. Don't succumb to those negative, prejudged thoughts about your life and how it might be. They are all a fantasy that your mind cooks up and you know what, it's not real. Do not trust your own mind...it is 99% of the time your worst enemy.

The only thing that is real, is how you choose to view your situation, and what you choose to do about it. The comments you made about hacking sleep, make total sense in this context. Let me tell you that, any stress or time-pressure or deadline based on fear, will do absolutely horrible things to you as an artist. It really will. There was only one thing that kept me on the path the entire time, and that was that at the most basic level, I enjoyed the entire process of doing art ; the study, the failure, the successes, all of it. If you can hold onto that, it won't matter in the slightest what your circumstances are, because you will always find a way to do it. I also had some doubts for sure, but somehow deep down for me, I believed right from the beginning, if I just kept doing it, eventually it would get me somewhere. More than 3 years down the line, I'm working fulltime on art, and I still at times have to reevaluate myself and find that this is indeed still the case.

So I get the time pressure, but it probably won't be doing you many favours. Instead try and enjoy the whole thing, because the art you do is an expression of your own engagement with the process. If you are doing everything in a state of a basic low level underlying fear and panic, it will definitely hinder you from achieving your goals. I don't mean just basic deadline panic...I mean the subconscious fear bastard, that whispers to you constantly 3 levels of inception down . It's a sneaky muthaf*cka and you have to be vigilant about it, and take actions against it, or it will rule your existence.

You will be a better artist by getting adequate rest, experiencing life out there as well as working on it. Do NOT for a second believe the often parroted inanity that we have been told our entire lives that you have to work HARD and suffer and only then will you get what you want. It's bullshit. I met some sulfur porters walking up Ijen volcano in Java, carrying 60kg of toxic sulfur on their backs up and down the volcano on a 4 hour round trip, twice a day for 5 bucks a day. I couldn't even pick up one of the baskets. Working HARD has done absolutely nothing for them in terms of getting them what they want. None of them chose to do it willingly, they did it because they had no alternative.

Don't work HARD and stress HARD and do all the things HARD. Do them EASY. By that I don't mean sit around like a lazy ass and do nothing, of course. This career needs a lot of time dedicated to it, but whatever you are doing, try and approach it in a light-hearted manner with full engagement and enjoyment. It's not as easy as it sounds, and it is exactly as easy as it sounds. Depends on how willing you are to put some HARD effort into being easy.

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
The thing about me is, all the anticipation really just an illusion of control. I'm lowering the bar enough, just so if it happens, I can say I told myself so! I admit, it's silly, but there's comfort in the semblance of control.

All I'm saying the roads to getting other jobs in art are more or less closed off. I'm telling you, the traditional Asian culture with regards to business is like Hotel California: "Check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." (I feel I misinterpreted that line!) My brother-in-law is damn good artist but had to continue their family business. A cousin, damn good artist, and same thing. Friends of the same ilk, same fate! It's hard to break the pattern because it's so culturally ingrained. Somebody, preferably a family member, needs to continue the machinery. Birth-right or life sentence, it is what it is. It's hard to fight tradition and culture, especially when it's socially held at a high value.

I don't think there's ever 'quitting' art. I believe being an artist is a lifer. But, let's get real, I don't see myself working in the interiors of funny books, making art for the games industry, because they are full time, 8 to 10 hour work in themselves. The dread is that art might be reduced to some self pleasuring act. A hobby. Nothing wrong about it being a hobby, but for someone who dreamt of making 'it', it's crushing.

But then again, who really knows what's coming 'til it comes! I'm anticipating, hoping to try to get the edge off if it happens.

Pulling this back to overworking, I totally agree that one's health shouldn't suffer for the pursuit of getting good at art (or anything, for that matter!). It's an insane proposal.

I agree with Amit, I believe in the context behind the statement 'Don't work hard'. I'm a firm believer of hard work, in a sense where there's sacrifice involved. Hitting the drawing board is hard compared to playing games. Making the deadline is hard compared to refusing to go out with friends. Figuring things out for yourself is harder than watching a tutorial video on repeat. Hard work versus hardly working. Work hard!

If you are reading this, I most likely just gave you a crappy crit! What I'm basically trying to say is, don't give up!  
IG: @thatpuddinhead
Sure there will always be pressure on you to not be yourself or do what you feel is right for you. I am Indian, I know all about this. But all I can say is, fuck that. All I hear is about a million excuses why you won't be able to do it in the future. Family...culture...reputation...money...blablabla. (not being mean, just blunt)
Your entire stance is one of "I just won't be able to...the world is against me" Actually the world isn't against you...but even if it was...why would you choose to help it?

There are no roads to art that are closed. They don't exist. All that exists is whether you have the will to make it happen. Don't make excuses for why you will fail, have good reasons for why after the fact. Excuses are cop outs because things got too hard, reasons can be looked at and actions taken to counteract them.

And I think you misunderstood a little bit my meaning of working easy.
It's not even about the sacrifice so much. We all "sacrifice" something by applying focus onto other things. What I'm saying is that whatever you apply your focus onto should be done with full engagement and a natural sense of ease, because the "sacrifice" is essentially just a what might have been situation, and you don't want to live like that.
If you want to play games and go out with friends at that moment and it feels right then do it, rather than begrudgingly slinking off to work like a slave because you feel you have to. That's the attitude I mean. If you go into anything you do, begrudgingly and with a sense of fear or stress behind it, I guarantee you it won't be as fulfilling than if you consciously decided to say, actually I would rather work on my art and focus on that for now, because I really enjoy it, and it is what I want to do. If you don't have that attitude, every damn moment with self-teaching is going to be an absolute bitch because you will realise 5 years down the line...damn I have no friends, no life and severe health issues because of some made-up mind stress, that I guarantee you will have forgotten why in the hell you ever thought like that in the first place.

We all need to chill out with this stuff and not take ourselves so damn seriously. I really wish this is something I could teach people still on the non-pro circuit, but alas it probably is something that you have to learn the hard way. Don't add to the difficulty of the journey, that's all I mean :)

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I also should say, that I have TOTAL sympathy with what you are feeling man and I know how hard it is to be depressed and down and frantic and hopeless. The answer really does lie in proactively and positively rearranging the deck chairs on your internal titanic, so that it misses the iceberg, and that requires a sense of taking responsibility for the stuff that goes down in your life rather than being a victim to it. That's definitely NOT easy. It's the hardest damn thing to do, but the most worthwhile.

 YouTube free learnin! | DeviantArt | Old Folio | Insta
Aha! Indian! We're cut from the same basic cultural cloth! Not much explaining to do then!

It's funny how you explained yourself that you weren't being mean! How many people have you offended for telling like it is! Haha!

In all seriousness, you didn't have to explain. I never felt an ounce of malice whenever you shell out your perspective of things!

This will sound against what you're proposing. The thought of going out with friends and have fun than sticking to the work is always a feeling that feels right at the moment. Always is. It's the guilt that I should've put in the work instead of dicking around that bugs me. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy those moments of not working. I am an impulsive boy. What feels right at the moment isn't always the right choice. Sure, there had been times I'd go in painting with so much venom, but it's always a feeling that will pass. I can honestly say don't have that feeling now having gone through it so many times. I probably am desensitized to it by now. But my point being, I had to go through that state to be where I am now.

I think everybody should blow off having fun in the name of sticking with your art plan at least once! O-ver work.

The thing about friends is, they'll always be there. They will understand what you're going through. They will understand why you keep on blowing them off. If they really are friends, they will hang around. It's been more or less 5 years down the line since I last had hung out with friends. I do get that feeling of "I have no friends" from time to time. But, ultimately, those are just feelings. It's just a call away, phone or text each other up to invalidate those negative thoughts.

I swear, my intention wasn't me boo-hoo-ing that I'm victimizing myself. At most, probably I gave off a tone to insinuate that I am. It's more of me creating a nightmare situation for myself. How can I pull this off when the time comes? It's a mild onset of paranoia! But just because I am, doesn't mean it isn't out to get me!

I am aware that these are all excuses. It's one of the significant life decisions anybody has to make at a point in their lives. It's damn near impossible holding on to both. That's easily two 8 hour jobs a day if I painted a rosy picture. Take the art road, and be labeled ungrateful and selfish! Take the 'real life'/'it is how it is' road, and beat yourself up for not chasing your dream! Red pill! Blue pill! Morpheus never mentioned what will happen if you take both!

Haha! I love this cultural angsty version of Amit!

(I swear to god, I was supposed to run with a Titanic joke where you're telling me that I should stop swinging my arms in the air and just let the water fill up my lungs! Funny you made that reference!)

If you are reading this, I most likely just gave you a crappy crit! What I'm basically trying to say is, don't give up!  
IG: @thatpuddinhead
I've seen too many examples of how easy it is to come across totally wrong in the written form, so I always check :) My recent ex ended up thinking I was a total dick because of my poor emotional communication skills when it comes to empathising, when all I was ever doing was trying to help most of the time. Not everyone can handle the shit sandwich I guess. I will be the old bastard in the corner at 90 painting big vaginas with teeth.


See I don't think of art as a blue pill / red pill deal. I don't view life as a blue pill / red pill deal. We all in our idiocy make it a blue pill / red pill deal. Trust your gut, not your mind. We all pretty much know the path we are going to take way before we take it subconsciously, so just gotta let it unfold, and not be so hung up on decision making as if it is a make or break thing. It really isn't. Just play it by moment, live in the present as much as you can is what I'm basically saying. :)

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Amits's mention regarding how you perceive your sitation is very true. For instance i don't see working for family and living at home as a trial. Every single student i know has had the opportunity to stay at home to avoid rent, and worked for friends and family for cash under the table so as not to interfere with student welfare. I don't speak to my family and have had very little experience to network and get a footing as an independent adult. As a result i work a lot and i work hard.

Three days ago i had an anxiety attack at work and that's unusual for me because I've spent this long showing i can take the stress. I couldnt. Little things were piling up. You could call me a non practicing obsessive compulsive because even though my actions make sense and purpose the actions of others can and always derail it. I told my manager i can work when it's busy but not when my whole morning is spent in damage control - and it's that statement that has stuck with me.

We can't expect life not to work against us but I'm beginning to appreciate the concept of flow state like the MonkMan said. I'll be taking two weeks off at a beach with friends who encourage me with my artwork.

If it gets too much and you have to take time to collect yourself - do it.

We're not trapped in our roles but in my case i demanded things to work well but others didn't help and i took it upon myself. I put myself at low priority.


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