Discover more from Flygohr’s
A day doing art commissions
How does it look like working full time as an artist?
☕ This is an article from the Flygohr’s Ramblings. Here I help digital artists and creative people with productivity, growth, and inspiration. Tips, guides, links, and articles come every few days.
👋🏻 If you’re a new reader, thanks for stopping by! You can take a peek at the about page to know more about this publication.
📬 To get future articles delivered to your inbox, enter your email below:
I used to do art commissions all day, every day.
I worked with hundreds of clients and delivered thousands of files.
But I spent only 30% of my workday drawing. What about the remaining hours?
Good and bad days ⛈️
I was reviewing my notes the other day, closing some loops and archiving some tasks, and I stumbled on my to-do lists from a few years ago.
As you might know already, I haven't been doing commissions for a couple of years now so it was a nice (?) trip down memory lane.
Let's start by saying there were good days and bad days.
On good days I:
completed what I set myself up to do
end the workday at around 3 or 4 pm
was feeling on track, had money set aside and stress was relatively low
On bad days I:
didn't manage to complete what I had planned
completely ruined my day over some minor thing
was feeling behind, my money was running out and my stress was high
ruined my sleep, nutrition, and exercise patterns
I think I had a 30/70 distribution of good vs bad days. Sit on this for a minute, as I'm not trying to be all shiny and masterful. I am not trying to be a perfect productivity master. I am a messy human being with a short attention span, prone to burnout and depression.
Set systems, not goals 🔁
But while bad days would just stall my progress or get me some minor setbacks, good days would always push me forward.
I think my 'secret' was that I had a system in place.
Instead of relying on finite goals, I set some vague guidelines for my days.
I never managed to 'read 52 books this year'. I would be off track by February, give up, and end the year with 1.5 books read.
Now I put down 'read at least 5 pages of a book every day'.
Ok, it's still kind of a goal, but it's more manageable and it allows me to feel motivated on good and bad days alike.
If it's a bad day, I just quickly get over the 5 pages and give up. But if it's a good day, I might feel compelled to read more than 5.
I might not end up with 52 books read at the end of the year, but I surely end up with more than 1 and a half.
I apply the same principle to every other aspect of my work and personal life.
So for example, instead of 'complete one drawing a day' - which is often impossible because of clients themselves - I just put down 'work on commissions for 4 Pomodoro timers everyday'.
My daily routine 🤓
But let's get to the juice of my daily routine / system:
I had goals for reading and learning, but if I waited to be done with work I would be too tired to tackle them at the end of my day.
I would wake up at 6am - so as not to meet with my flatmates that usually overslept - and spent my breakfast on:
reading a nonfiction book
Udemy / YouTube courses
Duolingo / Anki for languages
Additionally, as much as a coffee-lover that I am, I wouldn't drink my morning cup as soon as I was awake. I usually waited an hour or so.
I am a very anxious person and my cortisol levels are already very high as soon as I open my eyes.
After that, it was time for deep work.
Actual work 🎨
I would have a list of things to do from the day before already, so I could avoid opening emails, DMs and social media and get straight into work mode.
It wasn't much. I usually aim for 4 to 6 Pomodoro timers of sketching, drawing, and coloring each day but I would allow myself to end earlier if I was done with my predefined list.
Sometimes I didn't manage to complete everything tho, and I moved my to-do's to the next workday.
I usually exported and saved all the assets I had done right at the end.
I am a fan of batching similar tasks together, so I usually do all the sketches I need to do first, then all the linearts, then all the coloring, etc. I work on multiple drawings simultaneously.
I never finish a single drawing at a time.
By now my creative energies were usually depleted and I couldn't do much work anymore - not efficiently, at least.
Lunch break 🍝
I would grab a quick snack and head to the gym nearby, where I would spend no more than an hour to avoid fatigue - as I was doing it almost every day.
Admin work 💻
After showering and having lunch I usually tackled what I call my 'admin work routine'. Without administrative work, I wouldn’t be able to work at all. I don’t get clients while drawing. I get them by being active online, replying to them, updating them, and correctly invoicing them.
Sadly, or lucky for me, being professional can often beat the quality of the work you deliver. No one wants to work with an asshole, or with an illiterate, unresponsive or lamenting person - no matter how good their work is.
I used an app to check off things in sequence, and I had to-do items for everything I had to do to 'maintain' my online presence and update my client lists.
This routine usually lasted between 45 mins and 1hr and a half. I did:
get to inbox zero in my email
post on Reddit, Instagram, and Ko-fi
update whatever else was left
send deliverables to clients
reply to DMs and requests
I have an entire article and how-to on how I used to post on Reddit.
Reddit got me 99% of my paying clients. Check the article out if you want to know more.
But using a routine and a separate app for it allows me
not to clutter my daily to-do's
to save time by doing everything in sequence
to not forget anything and be always up to date
This was usually the end of my workday, but in order to be more efficient, I prepared the to-do list for the next day at this time.
Given I had just cleared my emails and talked with clients the process of jotting down what I had to do was really smooth and my memory still fresh.
Coming up with a to-do list in the morning wasn't cutting it for me. I would become anxious by looking at everything I had to do, prioritize wrongly and end up with less work done.
Waking up knowing already what to do was, instead, very invigorating.
Anyways, that was it. If there's anything you can take from my experience make it:
don't be too hard on yourself and forgive yourself for your slip-ups
fall back on a system rather than being crushed by goals
your rhythm is unique and you should respect it
Until next time!
If you enjoyed this article, I'd really appreciate it if you could forward it to a friend, or colleague who you think might like it too. If they are a creative type, they’ll surely find value in what I have to offer.
You can also help me by sharing this on your social networks. That’s always a big boost for me!
All the best,