Years ago, I had a roommate who built sets for local theater productions. I would come home from a closing shift and he would be painting a sign for some make-believe business. I would get back from the movies and he’d be hammering nails into some crude, unfinished structure. I wondered what it was like to move through the day the way he did, from project to project, seemingly paying little to no attention to what time of day it was, whether it was time to eat lunch or go to bed.
In a world where our time and attention are continually mined as a resource, reclaiming your focus and directing it towards creative work is nothing short of a revolution. But if you’re anything like me, devoting time to your creative work is an ongoing process with perpetually shifting seasons. Some months, you might be on a roll and fall into a nice, smoooooth rhythm: making art before breakfast, chores after dinner, plotting revenge plus resting on the weekend. In my busy bee era, an entire year could fly by with plenty of creative gigs (and all the admin work that they bring)—but seemingly no time left over for a personal, creative practice.
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I love getting attention. The only thing that beats getting run-of-the-mill attention is getting attention for my creative work. Thankfully, I’m not alone. Craving attention for your work is a painfully relatable experience for most artists, especially those of us trying to make a living within the attention economy. It can take a lifetime to cultivate a marketing mindset, and the process often raises profound, unanswerable questions about the nature and boundaries of artmaking and attention.
It’s rejection season, baby. For creative beings who bravely put themselves out there this fall and winter, I tip my hat to you—regardless of the outcome. The first months of the year are a notoriously brutal season for artists because, while a small percentage of us just received happy news (you finally got that grant!), the vast majority of working artists are questioning why they poured hours of their precious free time into applications that go nowhere.
In our newest series, “Gentle Reminders,” we provide working artists with essential and convenient reminders for the care and maintenance of a nimble and flourishing creative practice. If your art is a garden, this series is about the continual weeding, watering, and miscellaneous upkeep it requires. Last month, we reminded you to rewrite your artist statement. This month, we’re offering ways to reimagine your relationship to a key component of your online presence: the artist website.
When it comes to repetitive tasks, no one does it better than Wall-E. Besides being undeniably cute, the dude really knows how to roll up his…sleeves? and get to work. When I’m knees deep in emails, laundry, accounting or [insert your least favorite, most mind numbing task] I try to channel Wall-E. But his space odyssey is more than an allegory for the power of perseverance. It also foreshadows a world in which humans are increasingly detached from their planet—and themselves. A world not unlike our own.