Saturday, 27 July 2013

Freelancing and the Seasonal Flow of Work

 Back when my main thing was ceramics, I had a pretty much perfect flow of work that neatly followed the kids' school year. Starting in September, I worked like a crazy lady to flood my market with Christmas buys - from big orders to hundreds of small items.

Usually by Christmas, I was rich but I had the flu and housework involved letting the chickens in to peck up the food on the floor. My artist friend Sharon had the brilliant idea one Christmas to simply fling some glitter in the air, where it would stick to the cobwebs and create a festive tableau.

The new year was good for work, if less hectic. The tourist season brought plenty of new buyers, and as business slowed to a steady trickle by Easter it made perfect sense to sit back and take a breather, closing up the studio for most of July and August. With all of the fun school activities towards the end of the academic year, there was plenty to get involved in. And the summer holidays? No money, but absolute bliss, catching up with friends, hanging out on the beach with the kids and loving it.

Since we've been in the UK, I've been observing my seasonal work schedule. I'm at my most creative and energetic during the sunny months, and the boys are older and couldn't care less if I'm not frolicking on the beach all day with them. There is a trend in publishing (and many other fields in the UK) to take long holidays in August, so marketing efforts seem to come to nothing, but there is plenty of creative preparation to catch up on. When winter gets dark and gloomy, I slow down and find we all get more companionable. We watch films together and have family cooking and eating sessions. We hang out with cousins.

I grew up as a child of creative people, surrounded by entrepreneurs and artists. So I'm perfectly comfortable with the 'feast and famine' style of working. When the money flows in, I know it's not going to last and I carefully pay the big expenses. My dad has always joked, "Spend it quick, before it runs out!" and that is something to be taken seriously. If new plumbing or tyres for the car are needed, get 'em - quick!

Today, I've been bitten by a whimsical bug. The white matting that surrounded some of my framed photos has been annoying me for ages. So I dismantled the frames, and painted the matting - Green, Fuchsia, Navy Blue. And then slopped some gold watercolour paint on there too. Because who needs white? Not me! It turns out, matting takes watercolour paint really well. But you can make your own matting for a picture out of any heavy card or good quality paper. Stencil, stripe or spray it. Be brave!

Sunny days are great for sudden inspiration. But now, I have to be sensible for a bit and do a few non-artistic chores. They are always there, aren't they?

A friend and I were chatting about creative flow and she mentioned that the phases of the moon, and her own body's cycles, greatly affect her creative energy in the same way that the seasons affect mine. How do you deal with creative flow? Are you a nine-to-five freelancer, or does your work wax and wane? Can you share any tips on maintaining productivity throughout the month or year? Like the new background? It's a work in progress!


1 comment:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That glitter idea is brilliant.
I often have creative IDEAS, but lack the time to explore many of them...