Burnout



  • So much respect for you guys in bringing up this topic in an open and honest way.

    I wish I had heard this episode when I was 20 something in the design school, and the years leading up to work as a designer. I especially recognize the feeling of being stressed for a long time as a post-grad student, being underappreciated when starting out working professionally, and lack of feedback from peers and colleges at the workplace.

    I also saw the gap between my perception of what working as a designer would be like vs. actually working as a designer. I see similar mistakes made by entry-level illustrators. For me, having a realistic expectation (for my second career - being a book illustrator) has been a very helpful way to reduce stress, anxiety, and prevent being at risk of burning-out.



  • The only time in recent memory where I experienced burnout was this past summer.

    I was planning on creating an 11 page fanart comic for Star Wars Day (May 4th). But I only had about a week or two to do it all (because of when my college semester finished). Thumbnailing the comic was not a problem, and my completion rate was about one inked page per day (I was doing it digitally). But after the third day, I just didn't want to do it anymore. When I say, "One inked page per day," I mean that's all I did that day (besides eating, sleeping, etc.).

    Time was running short and the deadline seemed more and more unachievable (because, in reality, it was. Real comic professionals complete about one issue per month. And it takes a team of at least four to do so (drawing, inking, coloring, lettering...))

    Long story short, I never completed the comic. Only three pages were ever inked and none colored. I didn't draw too much for a few weeks after that, instead playing video games and constructing levels/worlds within those games. It's kind of like what Lee was saying in the podcast; creating outside of what you normally do.

    Hopefully one day I'll finish the comic. (And at least now I know to budget my time better!)


  • SVS OG

    This was so good. Do you think it’s normal to experience burnout just consistently for a few years?😬 More of my personal experience with burnout is less with my artwork and more with general life stuff that then steals my ability to push myself creatively. I really appreciate what Lee said about how he took time off and just did architecture and life drawing when he was in burnout... just because you don’t have to figure things out as much. I’ve never put my finger on it before, but I’m finding myself doing portrait pencil sketches all the time (when I know that I actually want to illustrate stories). I don’t understand myself, because I have so many ideas for full illustrations, but I, more often than not, just grab a Pinterest photo and sketch that instead. I’ve been trying to just be okay with where I’m at. But, it’s discouraging when I’m not even motivated to do what I know I want to do. I feel like I know why i do that now. Thanks @Lee-White It’s very eye opening.
    Also, on a side note, speaking of wildlife, while I was listening to this podcast, I kept having to pause it because there was a moose in our yard and the dogs were freaking out. 😆 We also have a pair of great horned owls that live on our property. Living in Alaska is crazy.



  • @Pamela-Fraley I don't know if it's normal, but I have also experienced it consistently for several years. No answer here, just commiseration. Also, I wish there was a moose in my yard. 😀



  • @davidhohn I loved the coyote themed podcast and also stayed till the end. Coyotes are one of my favorite animals (but Jake's story was still scary as hell!)


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @Eli I was surprised and a little confused the first time I saw one in my neighborhood. Walking right down the middle of the street.

    Like Lee said what at first glance I took for a dog just didn't look "quite right" then I realized what it was. Been catching glimpses of them on my neighborhood runs for the last couple years. But was a little intimidated couple nights ago when I heard at least 5 of them howling up a storm in the wooded greenbelt near my house!

    Of course I'm also seeing a ton more rabbits and deer on the trails so I suppose it makes sense!



  • Me too @davidhohn!



  • My take is not the coyotes, it is the roadrunner! I always thought it was an imaginary bird made for the intetest of the cartoon. What a shock! 😊



  • @davidhohn They are moving into urban areas and are pretty successful. They are just fascinating--highly intelligent and adaptable, and also brilliant at hiding in plain sight or staying JUST out of sight of humans. I have seen footage on a night vision camera of someone taking out the trash in a suburban neighborhood. A coyote was right behind them the whole time--silent and moving fractionally to stay just out of sight. The human never had a clue! I personally love to see them, although if they surrounded my dog like in Jake's story, I would DIE.


  • SVS OG

    I thought this was a really good podcast and will probably listen to it several times. I wanted especially to thank @Will-Terry for his comment about his dependence on an audience. As an amateur, I think about this a lot because it seems like if I’m doing art for personal pleasure I shouldn’t have to worry about whether anyone else likes it but I find that doing art without an audience isn’t very satisfying for me. Will’s question of “Would you do art without an audience?” Is worth a whole podcast.



  • I thought this was a very timely podcast in my own life, so thank you for speaking on this! I'm definitely burning out as a high school art teacher. In a "normal" year I'd be taking a mental health day about this time, however in the Distance Learning environment it's a LOT harder to take time off from work. Not only that, I'm dealing with a muscle injury that prevented me from drawing during Inktober, so I've definitely been discouraged. I so wish high school teachers could take sabbaticals like college professors do, so that I could focus on refreshing...this is actually the first year I've even considered quitting my job and taking care of my (future) family someday.



  • I first heard about the sabbatical year was from the graphic design Stefan Sagmeister. He had a Tedtalk in 2009 about his experience during his sabbatical years.
    https://www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off?language=en



  • Great podcast, love listening to your candid and helpful thoughts on illustration! Just have to speak out in the defense of museum illustration, which was carelessly discarded as a boring recipe for burnout! I'm at SVS to work on my narrative illustration and enter some new markets, but I've been deliriously happy as a working science illustrator for over a decade now. Museum illustration can be illustrating artifacts, specimens, or concepts for education, academic publication, or talks. It can be designing exhibits, web illustration, and reconstructions. These are often sought-after positions filled by incredible artists. Tangentially, there is so much work out there communicating science to experts and the public, and it can require a lot of visual narrative skills as well as understanding of a diverse set of topics. For anyone interested in telling stories of science, don't knock it. It is a quirky, specialized area of illustration, but for the right sort of person, it is never, never boring. 🙂



  • Yep, had to stay for the bonus stories.
    We don't get coyotes here in Japan, but I love seeing other wildlife here.

    I really needed to listen to this podcast.
    Thanks heaps guyz!



  • I listened to this podcast back in November and was going to write something in this thread. But, ironically, I felt too burnt out to do it when it turned out I didn't remember my password for this forum, needed to confirm my email and stuff like that.

    I spent a long time working two jobs and then illustrating books in the evenings. Which was exhausting of course. And I guess I borrowed energy from my future self, because now I can't imagine having the energy to do that for even a week, and definitely not over a year. So this episode definitely resonated with me. Especially the part about losing motivation.

    Those books I worked with during that time were finally published last year. And then... nothing much happened and it felt like no one really noticed them. People were too busy worrying about the pandemic to care much about children's books. And part of me felt that it was all a huge waste of time and that I had burnt myself out for no reason. And it's difficult to work up the motivation for new projects when you're feeling exhausted and also always have that part of yourself that thinks that there is no point trying.

    So quite the struggle, and I don't quite know where to go from here. But it feels positive that I haven't lost the love of illustration - just the motivation for larger projects.


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