Monday, April 23, 2018

The Power of Routine: Part 2

Happy spring! In November, I posted the first part of this article which discussed the power of having long-term goals, breaking them down, and setting a routine for yourself so that you can be the most productive version of you in the studio. You can find it here if you want to refresh your memory.

Since November, I have asked other artists how they tackle these same challenges.
Here are some thoughts from kid lit illustrators, Suzanne Kaufman and Pamela Goodman.

Suzanne Kaufman

Suzanne recently completed the beautiful illustrations for 100 Bugs! A Counting Book. It is the first nonfiction book
she has illustrated! Awesome! You can find more of her bright, expressive work on Instagram and Twitter.

Q: How do you break down your days? Do you have a specific set of tasks for
each day before you dive into work?
I try to work out before family gets up. I also sneak in a mom breakfast most weeks
before they get up for school.
Mondays, I still teach a full day as I love the inspiration my students give me.
Tuesday through Friday I break my day into hour and half chunks based on the
video by John Cleese.
I follow a lot of what John Cleese says about creativity and time management.
Check out this video:
Another great video about time management is by Jake Parker.
End of day on Fridays, I write a schedule for the next week.
I check email for only 15 minutes.  Later in the day. I do get pop up notifications, so I can
respond quickly to my editors/art directors but other than that I ignore email til
the end of the day when I feel unfocused.
Q: When do you feel most productive?
Right before my kids come home from school.  I wish I was kidding. Also, probably
before sunrise or early morning after my kids are off at school is another good time.
Q: How many hours, on average do you spend creating? Marketing?
This is recommendation is not to think hours but quality of work. I used to
think I wasn’t working enough hours or working hard enough
and my work suffered.  I never have a normal week, so I am more kind
to myself and I look at the quality of the work versus quantity. Just have the
faith that it will all get done and most times, it does.  This has helped me a ton.
Right now, in my career I am terrible at budgeting time for marketing.
I have decided to focus on my books and hope that doing great
work will get me more work versus sending out postcards or posting more on social media.
Q: What is your favorite kind of task to do?
I love to play.  This can’t be done under a tight deadline.  I would recommend giving
yourself daily sketch ideas that can be used to experiment with material, composition for future books.  This play time I have used later in production. Examples is the endpaper
for 100 bugs and the Christmas Tree in Naughty Claudine.  Both were
things I had never done before and used my playtime “Daily Sketch” to just go for it.
If you are not published I would use daily sketches to add the things that are missing.  
I did this to add animals, environments, kids etc to build my portfolio. Since these were just
sketches I was fearless and picked my favorites to build future stories
and my portfolio around.  I owe this idea all to Lucy Ruth Cummins an
Art Director at Simon and Schuster.
Q: Do you have a method for motivating yourself to do tasks you
really don't want to do?
Lunches with friends.  Also, it is perfectly ok to choose not to do something
and that is ok.
Q: Do you have a lull in your day where it's hard to focus? If so, what do you
do with that time?
Afternoon and before lunch I struggle as I love lunch and dinner.  I go to lunch,
call illustrator pals, take walks with illustrator friends
and just hang out with my daughters.  
This is a good time to reconnect with the real world.
Q: What is your favorite thing about freelancing?
I love not driving in the horrible Seattle traffic.  For almost twenty years I spent
sometimes a few hours a day instop and go traffic with a lot of angry people.
Also, I love I get to see my girls grow into amazing people.

Pamela Goodman

Pamela illustrated this beautiful book, Love You From Right Here about foster kids and parents. (It is so sweet I still cry when I read it.)
You can get a copy here. Look for more of Pamela’s adorable illustrations on Instagram and Twitter.

my schedule:
keeping it consistent is the hardest, but once I get into a rhythm (doing it for at least a week)
it gets easier. My schedule is usually (ideally) like this:
- wake up, have coffee/ eat
- walk the dog
- shower/ get ready for “work” (getting dressed in non-pajama clothes
has really helped me get into Work Mode!)
- arrive at “work” usually by 10am, put on some music with coffee/tea
- sit at my art desk (not my computer!) and do some sketching warmups
(either ideas I have in my head, doodles,
or using a prompt word) Sometimes these doodles will turn into a story or illustration later
- lunch
- check email (just once a day! not all day long! it’s too easy to get lost on the computer )
-  return to a long-term ongoing project
- OR if I have major errands, or its my grocery shopping day I do it in afternoon after lunch
-try to wrap up my day by 5pm/ start dinner

other notes on schedule:
To avoid the feeling of house chores or laundry staring at you during the workday I assign a
day for cleaning. Friday is my cleaning/ laundry day- I try not to let any
kind of chore or cleaning distract me until Friday.
(its HARD but it has really helped!! plus its done for the weekend and
I can relax on Saturday) Tuesday is grocery shopping day-
same thing try to finish what’s in the fridge all
week and NOT run out to shop every other day.

my approach to marketing:
so far the marketing that has worked for me (gotten me actual jobs) has been word of mouth
through other illustrator friends, people finding me on facebook and instagram
and I have also done postcards, but nothing
panned out from them so far

my best advice to freelancers starting out full-time:

Stick to a schedule, once you’ve found something you like. and set your working hours.
Don’t answer the phone or texts from friends/ family unless its work related
(you are at WORK duh! so they gotta wait)
- you have to make work to get work, so if you don’t have an immediate paid project,
make one up. Make it look like you’re busy and in demand, pretty soon you will be
- don’t wait around for someone to take you seriously as a professional, take yourself
seriously (that goes for how much you charge too. )
Someone once told me this saying: “Act like a Pro, bill like a Pro"

~Jeslyn Kate

Jeslyn Kate writes/illustrates for children and teaches art.
You can find her work at these different locations:
Instagram: Jeslyn Kate
Twitter: @jeslynkate

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