In 2011, I graduated from Otterbein University with a B.A. in Art Education. From my perspective, this meant I was a free spirited, rule bending artist, applying for jobs in a field full of ultra organized, Type A perfectionists. When I failed over and over again to be offered a position, I decided that I had made a huge mistake and the life of a teacher wasn’t for me.
After a few years self employed as an artist and a nanny, I began craving some of that structure that had at one time seemed so off putting. So I once again, began applying for jobs, this time, actually wanting to be hired... and I was.
In the last four years, I have seen how beautifully my career as a teacher, fuels my career as an artist, and vice versa. Each time I find success in one career, it’s because of a skill I practiced in the other. At this point, I can’t imagine doing either job, without also doing the other in some format. For this reason, I think it’s crucial that whatever you choose as a hobby or side hustle, it has to balance what you do in your 9-5. This how we avoid burnout, and promote new ideas. More specifically, here’s some ways I let my two careers fuel each other’s fires.
I Practice What I Preach
This year, I have been really pushing my students to add layers to their artwork. I explain that this adds depth and value and texture to their work. As a result, my student’s work has improved GREATLY... but so has mine! When I’m in my studio, I try to look at my work the way I would look at my student’s. I give myself the same feedback I would give them... including, telling myself to add layers!
I Implement Systems for Maintaining Productivity
The children I teach NEED structure to be successful. Often times, this looks like rubrics, check lists, timelines, etc. Adults need this structure too! So, I have begun to use every single one of these strategies in my own art studio, to keep myself on track.
I Take Breaks
In education, we use something called brain breaks. They are usually a game or a video that involves some type of movement to help kids get the wiggles out while we transition into our next activity. As I work in my studio, my Brain Breaks are not always as fun, but I might use 5 minutes to fold some laundry, do a quick yoga flow, or scroll the Instagram without guilt.
Having created this balance between structured systems, and freedom to create has propelled my artistic practice to a very new level in the past year. I was not expecting these ideas to have this huge of an impact, but I am so grateful they have.