These are questions I’m often asked to which there are no easy answers (except maybe the last one, and I take a stab at that below).
Everyone wants to know “how much time?” because time is sacred, and we should be choosy with how we spend our time.
The better question.
There is a better question than “How much time?” Ask yourself: How much time and effort am I willing to invest?
The key word is “willing.”
When you’re committed, you don’t care how much time something takes. You’ll find a way to get it done because it becomes a priority.
When you’re committed, you lose track of time because you’re focused on reaching the goal.
When you’re not committed:
- You take on a project because somebody else thought it was a good idea, even though your heart resisted.
- You “try” to do the work, but you discover that you’d rather watch TV or play with your grandchildren.
- You’re easily swayed by almost any other opportunity dangled in front of you.
- It takes endlessly longer because you procrastinate.
The truth about time.
Here’s the truth:
It will take as much time as you allow.
If you have just an hour, you’ll find a way to get the work done in one hour. Of course, this means there is no time for multitasking or procrastinating, just relentless focus on the task.
Watch out for allowing too much time. Some of us (ahem … me!) tend to expand a task to the time that we have (or the time that we think we have).
This is worse when there is no deadline attached to the task or project. Someone told you they’re not in any hurry for the piece they commissioned from you. So you keep working on it. More likely, you’re not doing much work and are just procrastinating.
You’re expanding the time it takes to do the commission. You’re making it bigger than it really is or should be. It’s consuming too much of your energy.
Time spent on business v. studio.
Of all the questions at the top of this article, there is one that I can answer without hesitation.
If you want to know how much time you should be spending on marketing/business compared to making your art, there’s a lot of evidence that successful artists will spend at least 50% of their time on business and marketing.
That means if you have a 40-hour work week, you’ll spend 20 of those hours on business. This might include updating names in your database, writing a blog post or newsletter, sharing on social media, or packing and shipping your art.
Contrary to what you might think, more sales and recognition do not lead to less office time. The more successful you are, the more time you’ll spend on business. At that point, you’re juggling team, galleries, museums, and all kinds of logistics.
Notice the word “team” in there. By that time, you’ll have more people to help you with all of your obligations, and you’ll have to manage them.
The bottom line is that any project or task that you’re committed to will take as much time as you allow. How much time and effort are you willing to invest?
On The Art Biz podcast.
Listen to artists discuss how they spend their time.
Ep. 124: Being an Artist with Geoffrey Gorman