How to manage your time to illustrate when you have a day job?
Michael Angelo Go last edited by
Hi, I know I haven't been posting art for a really really long time, but I feel like this is something that I really want to get off my chest, even if it doesn't completely belong here.
So I got a new job this year with a large, country-wide company in the US, where I work as an architectural draftsman, getting paid more than I ever have to date ($28.85/hr). I live in California. Commute from Glendora to Newport Beach.
The catch being I have to commute 60-90 minutes every day to work, and 60-90 minutes back. The reason I picked this job, because all the other companies around the area where I live, for a lack of a better term, are sweatshops.
I realized with the fatigue of having to commute this long every day, combined with the cost of gas rising with inflation, that the higher pay isn't as high as I thought was. I feel like I deserve a raise. But in the meantime I could be looking for more gigs. But again, very tired from commute. I would like to rent a room nearby, but it's all expensive because it's not only California, but SoCal expensive.
I want to draw again to work on my portfolio as an illustrator, however I am finding that I no longer have the energy and time to do so anymore. I don't think this is healthy honestly. I'm not sure if I want to quit this job, because my ability to lift off my career as an artist has not proven fruitful since 2020. But I would love to have a life outside of it, but I don't...
What would you do if you were in my situation?
MimiHecher last edited by
Oh my, what an uncomfortable situation!
Is there any way for you to survive financially if you cut down your working time and tell them that you only want to work on 4 days of the week? 'cause that's my recommendation: Get sure you have free time 3 days in a row, so you can "use" the first of the three days to regain energy and prepare yourself to be motivated the following two days and then work on your portfolio the following two days.
Or is your exhaustion so overwhelming it takes more than a complete day of rest to be energetic again?
Also ... I don't know your private obligations. If you have kids it might be very difficult to use your not-working hours for your portfolio?
I started my career by cutting down the office hours bit by bit and enhancing the hours I worked on projects. But I was lucky to have a job in which it was possible to reduce my working time bit by bit.
ksfabian last edited by
@Michael-Angelo-Go Oh that sounds so hard and frustrating. I remember when I worked a full time job I had a long commute and felt like I couldn't do anything else after work because everything was super draining. The job I worked was super stressful too, I was a manager of a large child care center so I worked twelve hour days. But I have learned in my current situation (busy stay at home mom of three high energy kids) is to do a time audit. Jake has talked about it a few times on the podcast and on his YouTube channel. After your time audit, figure out what you're willing to give up to work on your portfolio. My husband isn't thrilled that I often neglect dishes and stuff to work on my portfolio, but now he steps up more and helps out because he sees the importance of what I am doing. I've also gotten up earlier than my kids so I can have a quiet house and work in the mornings. Will recommended bringing a sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Then whenever you have a moment, you can work on it. Maybe take it and work on your lunch. See if there is public transportation and use your commute to draw. I'm so sorry you're feeling defeated. Allow yourself a day or two to feel frustrated then after the time is up, force yourself to make a decision on how you are going to move forward. Good Luck!
carlianne last edited by
@Michael-Angelo-Go I think we can all understand how you're feeling and have experienced it ourselves. I am from the bay area so I had a similar commute but with screaming tired and hungry kids in the car
I found for me the best solution was to set aside time to sit with my drawing set up. (I would set it up the night before) then I could decide to draw or I could decide to do nothing and stare at the walls and just think which sometimes is all I wanted to do. But often I would end up being a little bored and draw. I took this advice from Neil Gaiman. There's something about having the opportunity to draw but not being forced to do it that helped me a lot.
The other thing I did was listen to podcasts or lessons during the car drive. I wouldn't get everything but it was nice to feel productive and it would get me more excited to create later.
If you're interested I have a YouTube video I made last year when I was in that situation for how I set aside my time:
https://youtu.be/ZUVcqTMT344 and relax. No phones allowed.
AngelinaKizz last edited by
Just out of curiosity, is your commute via bus/ train or are you driving the commute yourself?
Kristen Lango last edited by
I'm really sorry you're in this situation.
Aside from looking for another job that isn't as demanding on your time in regards to commuting, I'd suggest always having a sketchbook with you.
I think if you can set a goal of even just making one sketch a day, even if it's fast and unfinished and on your lunch break, that could kick start some more creative time for you.
I hope you can find better work soon!
Michael Angelo Go last edited by
@AngelinaKizz I'm driving myself so it pays a lot of gas. I've considered getting a sublet and buying a room for rent.
I tried to do that today and almost got scammed. I gave them my photo since they asked what I looked like, and now I regret it because now I'm worried my identity will be used to do more scamming or whatnot.
your situation really resonated with me as I am pretty much in the same boat so I feel your pain. I noticed what helped me the most was planning out my weeks in a sense that i would pool extra try time to create an hour I could work on my art. Then I would split that time very day for different things. For example for now I have a simple layout M-Draw T-SVS classes W-Draw T-SVS classes F-Draw. Honestly this helps me feel more productive and when I actually am able to get some stuff done even if its for 30 mins then I feel accomplished and one step closer to my goal. I think maybe right now its baby steps rather than leaps until you are able to find a better work situation. I hope things get easier. Good luck!
Chantal Goetheer last edited by
@Michael-Angelo-Go it so sucks having to commute so long and then inflation eating away extra pay. So sorry. I feel with you, having so little energy left. Hope you can find a way to make things work, living closer by, having a remote day, part time.
willicreate last edited by
@Michael-Angelo-Go From your writing it sounds like you're burnt out and have no outlet for the stress. Getting back into illustration can help, but you shouldn't approach it as though you're working on a second career (adding stress). Does participating in life drawing sessions or join drink-and-draw events sound of interest? Are you able to work on a passion project at your own pace? In my experience, it is more important to people to witness you completing a project than having a portfolio. Others with a passion projects in mind but aren't do-ers tend to gravitate for your services.
Doing non-art related stuff to recharge is helpful too. During the pandemic I started keeping a list of experiences for each year. On it I write what new experiences I've had (tv, music, events, food, etc).... It creates a sense of accomplishment, accountability to do more in life, and add to your creative library. Maybe this mindset can inspire you too?
As for asking for a raise, it'll be a tough request. As you stated you recently started with the company. However, if you find yourself being in a position where it would be difficult to replace your abilities then you may have a good bargaining chip.
How does your company feel about remote work? Check with your manager first to see if this is possible. Perhaps the organization will allow you to work a few days a week from home.
NessIllustration Pro last edited by NessIllustration
@Michael-Angelo-Go Congrats on the new job! Despite the concerns it's still a great accomplishment to have gotten it in the first place so congrats
Would it be possible to move closer to it if you share an apartment with roommates? What about remote work?
Maybe you could even discuss with your company if it's possible for them to cover your commuting costs. Since you're a new hire, this may be an easier ask than a raise but it would still be a big improvement.
Sarah VanDam last edited by
@Michael-Angelo-Go Man, this is rough. I agree with @NessIllustration and the questions she posed. If what you’re doing right now isn’t sustainable, then what are all the options?