Recently, I've been thinking about the way we present ourselves online. I love reading blogs and getting caught up in the nearly magical sleight of hand that happens. There is so much beautiful eye candy to behold, and I'm no less guilty of trying to present myself and my work as appealingly as possible.
I'd like to take a moment to talk honestly about what happens behind the scenes here at Tiger Food Press. Sit and have a cup of french press and a slab of rhubarb crunch.
I'm not complaining in the least bit when I tell you that I piece together about three or four jobs that comprise the bulk of *what I do for a living.* It's all creative, book and letterpress related work. Some of it happens in my home studio, some of it happens in the class rooms and studios of Oregon College of Art and Craft. I create work for my Etsy stores and craft sales, I print and bind commissioned work, I try to find time for fine art making, I teach, and I'm a studio manager. I tell you, I feel supremely lucky - seriously, seriously lucky to be able to do what I do for a living.
There are times, like right now, when I feel particularly pressed in one direction or another. In the next few days my focus is on finishing work for the Rieke Art Fair, on trying to get up to campus to put some hours in, and on researching grants for upcoming projects. In between I need to write estimates for clients, source paper, prepare for a demo I'm doing this weekend at another school, chair a board meeting for the arts organization I work with, and the list goes on.
I feel that what I do, how I cobble together bits of work that is meaningful to me, is a pretty common phenomenon. We are all scheduled to our teeth. So many of us are pulled in multiple directions, and many are in much more dire straights or enjoy far fewer hours in their studios than I do.
I feel so lucky to have the small hours in my studio, and I absolutely luxuriate in the days that I have an entire day to print or draw or bind. I will be the first to admit I'm not adept at figuring out the best use of my time when I'm faced with multiple, equally important jobs to do. It is a blessing and curse (to drop an overused phrase) to have as flexible a schedule as I do. It's been a long road of discovery - when are my most productive hours in my studio? When do they need me most on campus? When should I schedule meetings to maximize the time in the rest of my day? Many of these decisions are beyond my control. Deadlines, meetings, clients - they all come first. Everything else fits into slots.
And I guess that's partly where I'm going with this post. For a couple of years now, I've attempted to schedule myself to the last minute. I have a paper calendar and an iphone that have meticulous notes regarding what I should be doing, and when. I'd felt inspired and influenced by reading about the processes of artists I admired who talked of discipline and scheduling. The truth of the matter is, aside from client commissions the work that demands strict adherence to schedule, all those calendar notes were just falling by the wayside. *studio time 8 AM - 1 PM / Tuesday, April WHATEVER*
I'm going to share something that for some of you might come as a bit of no-brainer, but for me has been something of a revelation - or rather - a reintroduction to a way of making, and of living, that has eluded me for a while now; at least as of the past couple of years in which I've been so busy.
I've chucked my calendar.
At least, insofar as the calendar entries regarding when I should be creating. Of course there are still scheduled items that I need to work around. Some things just need to be done on a timeline. But creating? No. Not for me, it turns out.
I've been practicing a method of mindful attentiveness to ~ what do I actually want to be doing in this moment? ~ Often, it's creating. And often, contrary to what I had always feared, there is actually time. And so, I've found myself spending a few hours every day in my studio, whereas before, under the strict imposition of my calendar, which often told me I should be in my studio, I would often never make it so far.
As for whether this method will sustain itself, only time will tell. I imagine there will still be stacks of book blocks on my table still unbound, and photographs of cards yet unlisted, but all in good time. All in good time.