Is Creating Art Hard Work?

I’ve long been fascinated by the mind of the artist. I wonder what makes artists tick and what drives them to create.

As a gallery owner, I get to interact with artists on a regular basis. I have the opportunity to talk with them about their work and I get to visit their studios. I’ve also read numerous biographies about artists that have allowed me to see how artists develop over the course of a lifetime.

As a non-artist, I stand in awe of the talent and creativity I see manifest in the artworks I encounter. I admire the effort that has gone into cultivating raw talent into artistic skill and the work that goes into creating.

I also know that there are a lot of misperceptions about what it means to be an artist. The popular imagination is filled with romantic notions of the lone artist striving to achieve some kind of higher existence as he or she struggles to create in the studio. Many casual art fans believe that artists live an idyllic life, doing what they love all day long every day. Some who don’t understand art believe that artists are somehow shirking a “real job.”

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder how artists see themselves and how they think about the creative process. I’m particularly interested in better understanding how artists think about the work that it takes to create, and how different artists approach this work.  I would like to explore these questions and I’m going to ask for your input through several posts. I look forward to gaining and sharing insights on the work of creating, and I hope that these insights might help you look at the work you do in new ways, and, perhaps, find ways to do make your work more satisfying.

So, let’s begin with a question.

Is Creating Art Hard Work?

We all know that it takes real work to create a piece of art, but does an artist look at this work in the same way other people look at their work? Is creating a job in the traditional way that we think of jobs?

It’s certainly different than working in a factory – doing the same thing over and over, following someone else’s design. However, I would imagine that the longer an artist has been creating, the more routine the creative process becomes.

As I began to do research for these articles, I reached out to some RedDot readers and asked them about their view of the work they are doing as artists. Their responses were enlightening. I can’t share all of the responses I received, but here are a few that are typical of the diversity of answers to the question “Is creating art hard work?”

Sometimes it is hard. However, there have been times when the ‘muse’ sat on my shoulder, whispered in my ear, and guided my hand…those few paintings or sculptures seem effortless (and they made me much happier). I still have to think about the ‘rules’ of a good work of art, the composition, color, line, shapes, etc. It is difficult to not overwork, to retain the spontaneity. It requires effort and focused concentration. It can be hard to reach that level of concentration and maintain it or even harder, reach it again when you resume working on your art.

Carroll Stone, North Port, FL

 

The short answer is yes. Now the physical act of making art is not considered in the same class as physical labour but in many cases it is. I manufacture my own canvases and panels when not working on assembled paper as a mixed media artist, and these works are generally larger than 2 x 3 feet. For example, moving a 6 x 6 foot panel on one’s own can be quite physical, as can painting with an outstretch arm, often at shoulder height or higher, or at awkward angles – as is needed with these larger works. Muscle and eye strain are common. Then there’s the abstract nature of being an artist where like any business you need to put out capital, as in raw materials, then storage in inventory, through to the sale (if it sells) including administration and finances, as well as marketing and networking to ensure your brand remains viable in both the short and long term of your copyright’s life (not necessarily your own). Twice the work for the potential of a return that is never guaranteed – this fits the description of hard work in my books.

Ben Benedict, London, ON

 

This is an interesting question, at times creating art can be difficult, especially when the artistic flow is on a down swing, some factors in being difficult can be due to a lack of incentive, maybe the project is more challenging than first thought, could be working with an unfamiliar medium for the first time. Most artists I know like to challenge themselves, otherwise they can become complacent in their work.

Josef Marion, Santa Fe, NM

 

I don’t see creating art as hard work at all although it is a process that has a number of peaks and troughs within it. The hardest part is getting around to creating art. Once I have got to my easel I can get lost in what I am creating. I guess the hard work is more around thinking about what to do with the art once it is created, e.g. keeping an inventory of work etc, deciding where and how to market my art, prepping for a show etc.

Chrissie Hawkes

 

I feel that some aspects of creating art come easier than others. Some pieces simply flow better and feel easier to complete. Others are more difficult and there isn’t an appreciable difference in the result. I do think it would be a mistake to think that it should always be easy or to give up just because it is difficult. This answer does not include the marketing and selling of art-that is pretty much always difficult (but worth it).

Angie Spears

We pretty quickly see that it’s as much a question of defining hard work as it is deciding whether creating art is hard work. I suppose that this is true of just about any profession – attitude makes a big difference. It’s important to note, however, that thinking of creative work as hard isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Many artists reported feeling a deep sense of satisfaction that comes with the labor of creating art.

What do you Think – Is Creating Hard Work?

Please take a moment to complete this quick poll. I know that the first question may be a bit difficult to answer because creating art might be both, depending on the day. If you tend to think of your artistic practice more as hard work than pleasure, pick the first option, and if you find it to be pure pleasure more often, pick the second. After you take answer the survey questions, please leave your thoughts about the nature of the work you do in the comments below.

Keep an eye out for additional posts about the nature of the work you do in the coming days, as well as a post on the results of this poll.

 

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74 Comments

    1. I’m not sure why the survey isn’t working for everyone – some users seem to be able to access it and others aren’t. Sorry about that – it’s frustrating when the tech doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. We’re working to see if we can resolve this.

  1. Yes, it’s hard work, maybe even harder than most, because as artists we are exposing ourselves much more than is required in most “regular” jobs. It takes discipline and commitment, dexterity and strength.
    It’s just not the soul-killing kind of hard work.

    1. AS I AM NOT PERMITTED TO LEAVE A COMMENT, I WILL TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO…

      …ARTISTIC CREATIVITY IS INNATE, IT CANNOT BE “LEARNED”.

      ONE CANNOT LEARN TO DRAW WHICH IS THE BASIS OF ALL ARTISTIC MEDIA !!!!!

      1. True – one is born an artist. Sometimes the culture into which an artist is born impedes her progress in the early years, and the full artist emerges later. Artists don’t “take a vacation.” When an artist goes on “vacation” they are still being an artist, in fact, it’s on “vacations” that artists do some of their best work. I don’t understand your second comment, however. The meaning is simply not clear to me.

      2. Terry,

        OK, I will take the bait,

        I 100% disagree with your statements. I believe almost anyone can learn to draw. Some have more talent in one area than others but that said talent is actually very common. Using that talent less so. We can also learn or more correctly re-learn creative ways of thought.

        Yes every child is creative, INNATELY. Our society beats it out of most of them very early. Creative ways of thinking can be learned. We each have our talents. All of us are not Leonardo. Even he was taught many things. We simply need to be the best we can be.

        Every, “artist” LEARNED to draw. Some have more talent possibly. We are not individual artists born and living in a vacuum with no instruction. Art progresses and grows from those in the past. We all have learn from those before us.

        1. As an art teacher with 40 years of experience (and myself a creative professional),seeing kids from Kinder to high school, on a regular basis, I have experienced that not every child can LEARN to draw no matter how much time is spent teaching him/her…nor is creativity INATE(relating to fine art). I believe those that CAN draw/create are able to SEE things differently and THINK differently. After all…isn’t that indicated in the RIGHT brain LEFT brain studies? I have found that some people are better with the “math” end of art—engineering, architecture, graphic design, etc. and others are better creating more from the abstract of creativity—painting, sculpture, drawing, etc. of course, their are those that can do both

        2. Everyone may be able to learn to draw but for most then it becomes work. I had never drawn before January 2017. I now pick subject matter and have to google how to draw it. It takes me a very long time to find the right instructions and then to draw the piece. To me that is all work but enjoyable work because I feel great when it is done, most of the time. When I can put the paint brush in the watercolors and on that drawing it is pure pleasure! I’m 69 years young and have been drawing and painting for a year and a half and enjoying almost every minute. Especially when your art is in an exhibition and other people really like it.

      3. Are you one of those trolls that creates posts just to push people’s buttons?
        1) You just left a comment, so obviously you’re not “NOT PERMITTED TO LEAVE A COMMENT.”
        2) One can most definitely learn to draw. Sure, you might find one or two that can’t be taught, but then there’s one or two that can’t be taught to walk or speak, either.
        3) Drawing as the basis for all other artistic media is a “classic” position. There are plenty of well-paid artists that never learned to draw.

        1. I, too, didn’t see the comment box on the survey as I expected. That doesn’t make me a troll…I hope! Ha!

          As for drawing, I *can* draw…some. But color is my thing–and always has been. That works for me. My art is stained glass–custom windows. [See my work archived at davidsonoriginals.] And yes, even though I easily “get into the flow” and forget to eat, creating stained glass is *hard work*!

          I’ve wished I could draw better, so sometimes I’ll take a piece of paper and just draw for the sake of it. I should do that more often.

          Mostly, though, art is a way of seeing…or so it seems to me.

          1. If you are creating stained glass Virginia you obviously can draw and design nice patterns which you use to cut the glass. You obviously also have a fine appreciation for color as a stained glass artisan. Loved it too when I built custom windows!

      4. I think artistic talent is given to us in the form of a seed. Its up to us to nurture it and make it grow. Some aspects are hard and some are easy. I have had the experience of being frustrated which lead to trying something new and having a great leap forward.

    2. Yes, Art is hard work. Or focused effort. Regular work? One of my Mother’s favorite sayings was first you work, then you play and you will be happy the rest of the day. We changed that to first you work and before you can play, there is no more day. Later it changed to if first you work, make it play. Art? You can’t make a living doing that. Why not? So now that I am officially retiring, I am giving myself permission to be the true artist that I am. Took long enough! Let’s play!

  2. Making art is both work and play, as I look at it as an affliction – kind of like golf! I am fortunate to have a market for most of my work, but the steps on the ladder that I climb daily to stay on top of inventory, paying rent, framing, sorting through images, and time at the easel, is a job in itself and one I am thrilled to do

  3. I was recently asked just that question. I think making art can be described as hard work but then there is the impulse that will not let me stop despite the ease or difficulty in making the art. I am a photographer and educator. I watch some students work towards the dream of being a full time artist and others for the sheer joy of having the privilege. They both have a passion that surpasses the fear of getting started. The joy I see on their faces and in their eyes speak to the triumph of achieving the finale.
    I tell this short story because I think no matter how long we make art in our lives, we face the challenge of starting from a dead stop, overcoming failures, reinventing ourselves over and over every so often. The art itself stands as a testament to the humanity of the person who overcame obstacles as well as going with the flow to get to each finished piece. Yes, art is hard work but rewarding work. Barbara Moon Batista
    I also recommend a book by Ted Orland and David Bayles, Art & Fear.

  4. I find as I learn more as an artist, as I am able to grow in small steps, it is harder as I am more aware of what is needed for beautiful art…good drawing first, understanding of color, value, edges, etc. I still feel that with each painting I am starting at the starting line. I long for the confidence borne of experience so that the skills become second nature, instinctive and lead to becoming intuitive. I am not there yet and the frustration in that is very hard. But I am learning to appreciate the process of fixing problems and that it is something all artists need to do.

  5. Having done both illustration and fine art, I think illustration is harder. For me, that is. It’s all subjective. I also think it’s way easier to paint from a single reference than from multiple references where you have to keep the lighting consistent and put it all together like a puzzle. That’s been my experience.

    1. I’m reading Richard Pink’s “Drive” right now. Somebody did a study asking art experts to compare the creativity of commissioned and non-commissioned art. They consistently rated the non-commissioned art as more creative than the commissioned works.

  6. Hard work? Just depends. There is creative art and technical art. Creativity may come hard to some and easy to others. Technical art is the execution. Obviously more work in carving marble than getting a canvas and putting a blob of paint in the center.

    For my photography? It is year round and all encompassing. It is not ditch digging hard, but 8 am to 1 am hard.

  7. A lot of it depends on the space an artist has. As you well know, Jason – I produce meticulous, crisp, colorful – and increasingly large originals. My latest measures 48″ x 60 x 3″ and several previous, larger than that. As result, storage space can become a premium.
    Painting on thin panels is a definite advantage, however the exhibiting of those DO require proper mounting – as very few people will buy well-priced artwork which isn’t presentable, immediately hang-able, or flops around on their walls like a soggy dish rag. This is the mistake I see many artists make.
    Every artist will have inevitable ‘blocks’ which can be considered acceptable by the artist him/herself, but not by the gallerista, who – if they are anything worth their salt – can shift the work at a very regular pace, and therefore NEED regular produce.

  8. Hard work? Mentally? Physically? Emotionally? Yes, … oftentimes all of these. I work in a wide variety of media and formats, some, like small gouache studies, are certainly more play than work. However, designing a large mural for a ceiling, climbing repeatedly up and down a 30 foot scaffolding with your supplies, and having to climb back down often to judge your work from the floor perspective is exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. Constructing cradled hardboard panels up to 4 x 6 feet for painting supports is also hard work. Most of the time however, I do not consider painting in front of my easel in my studio to be hard work at least not hard physically.

    The business part of being an artist entrepreneur is a whole different story! Very hard work!

  9. I am more for Continuous Inspiration than Hard Work. The latter takes the poetry out of the process and turns it into hard labour, a job. I never took to the 10% Inspiration 90% Perspiration maxim…

  10. I do think it is often hard work but the question I also ask, and that I think is more relevant, is “is it satisfying work?”

    Sometimes it is physically demanding and sometimes it is very frustrating but I have learned to take it in stride because I look forward to a finished work that ends up being deeply satisfying. I know there is a pearl in that oyster shell.

    I find that the hardest part of being an artist is to find some solitude to sit and think. You don’t find that necessity in most jobs and most “outsiders” seem to view that as just being idle. Believe me when I say that there is rarely a moment when I am not working – you just can’t see it necessarily. I wake up thinking about work and fall asleep thinking about work. It is my exquisite obsession. Sometimes it is very hard on my relationships and sometimes relationships suffer.

  11. It is harder right now than it has been for years. I am short on time and energy and money. I also am trying to turn a corner into a slightly different style and larger paintings. I think once I get through the rabbit hole it will flow again. Selling art is the hardest part. My studio is so full that can be depressing at times and slow me down from creating more.

  12. Making art is a hard work physical and mental. Sometimes you have NO energy to do it, yet you brain must let it out some how before it disapears. At this point I don’t think on selling or being out there doing it. I do this hard work because this is who I’m in this life. It is in you, or its not. No choice here. Its like being black or white. This is what life gives you as your work, and too live for. I think that artist imagination takes us into other words that we have never been before. Its a trip into another dimensions and times. Just look the work of Nikola Tesla. He took us into a dimension of electric light never been seen before. HIs brain an body was an electric living cells amount us. Talking about not belonging to this earth. I think this are Angelical beings from another dimension in a human form that come to show their true free love, and helpful paths of prospective. I myself am very masculine as I’m feminine. I have no idea where does this come from, its like an energy that invades me with no resistance, and sometimes I get myself into a trouble for being it. Sometimes I feel like a Ballerina dancing in the flower fields to mother nature children’s, and sometimes I feel like a raged Bull ready for a kill just to survive this repeated Matrix so call life. I sometimes I want out, that I don’t belong to this wrong time just from being who Im.

  13. I think for some artists (sculptors, painters who do large canvases), making art can be literally hard work. For me personally, it can be frustrating at times, and I find planning and staying on top of all the different tasks a challenge, but I don’t consider it hard work. I do house and yard work for a few elderly people occasionally: that is hard, and sometimes mind-numbing work. Being an artist, with all its frustrations and uncertainty, is still my dream job.
    Having said that, I do believe that most non-artists have no idea how much work goes into being an artist. There are many weeks when I spend more time on the business end of being an artist than on actually creating.

    Not sure why I can’t enter the survey? It says: “Your (sic) do not meet the restrictions on this survey.”

  14. You bet your bottom $ that being an artist is very hard work. There is a lot of research that goes into my creations, as well as, time on social media, advertising, finding exhibitions to enter, taking classes to keep up with all the new ways to reach people who might be interested in your work. Then the exhibitions: filling out the forms, getting your images in the right format to send in for juried shows, finding good photographers to capture your work. Then if you are selected for a juried show, either packaging your work up to mail or delivering it and picking it up at the show’s end. And this is just some of the work that has to be done before putting paint to canvas. And I get a lot of emails preying off artists from instructors on how to sell art if I buy their classes!

    I don’t make a drawing before starting a painting so as I go along I am always exploring new ways of expressing my view with acrylic and mixed media but making sure to stay within my style. It takes work, trial and error, but most of the time a happy error that I can work off of or around. Being creative is hard work. My feeling is, if it seems easy, then you aren’t pushing yourself to go beyond what you always do, to explore deeper visions & thoughts.

    For the last several years, it seems that it gets harder and harder because there has to be so much effort & cost involved in finding ways to connect with collectors. Submitting work to shows becomes more expensive and time-consuming & when asked afterwards, they didn’t sell any art at all! They make their money on artists’ submission prices. Galleries are closing because they can’t make it. My gallery in Charleston is closing because the sales aren’t there anymore. And there are many galleries out there that don’t even have a collectors lists, just wait for the buyers to magically appear at their door! That is very unfair to the artists that they represent since they are tying up the artist’s work. I am beginning to wonder if original art is even saleable like it used to be with all the reproductions, etc. in the Big Box stores. Yes, creating art is very hard work, many hours and not much return but a lot of praise. Unfortunately, praise does not pay the bills or even cover the cost of creating the art. It seems to me that we should be worth more than that. Pretty sad, isn’t it.

  15. Jason,
    Would love to participate in the survey but there is a message that indicates I “don’t meet the restrictions”. Also – curious if any of my comments are received.

    1. I also wondered why I was not permitted to take the survey. It’s pretty insulting to read an interesting blog post, be invited to take a ‘survey’, and then be informed that “Your (sic) do not meet the restrictions on this survey”. What exactly are the restrictions? And it’s ironic that this survey seems to be powered by a site called ‘Allcounted’!

      Just as in Animal Farm, it seems that some are more equal than others.

  16. I’m not sure that is the right question.
    It is the most concentrated time I spend and it wears me out and I am totally drained and exhausted by doing it. This refers to the actual acts of painting. I work from a live model and from reference photos and it is the most exhausting thing I do.
    Most non artists think that “you just sling paint on a canvas and it’s very easy to do”. Artists know firsthand that that isn’t the case. It’s very hard to get the surface to be what you want it to be and how it should look.
    I can just loosen up and follow where the paint, colors and texture want to lead me and that is very fun. It’s really fun if the result is something that you and others get enjoyment out of experiencing the piece. Then the piece just vibrates my core and gives me an enjoyable subsuming feeling of inner joy.
    It is something I have to do. It doesn’t happen all the time but I have no choice but to do it over and over again.
    It answers the question “What is your favorite piece? The next one I do.”

  17. Hard is relative. Some are able to handle physical exertion, long hours, and the strain of small business better than others. If we didn’t love our art we would do something else. It must be rewarding enough to be worth it.

    1. I find that certain work is harder to complete. I design fabric from my photography and then I create scarves. Each step is intense and creative energy is needed from point a to b to c to d. I find printing a photo less satisfying after I have worn my favorite photos as scarves for a couple years now. It’s much easier to hang my artwork but my heart screams for textiles.

  18. Yes. For me, it takes a lot of energy both mentally and physically. I do abstract art on raw steel canvases which can be very heavy to wield. I have to do my pieces flat, so there’s a lot of reaching and stretching, hard on the back (I’m 67 years old–Lol). I sand, I scrape, I have to take time to prepare my color palette, mix my colors, and then set up for the actual time and workspace for doing the painting. I use acrylics which is water-based and, therefore, oxides on the raw steel. I have to transport and clear coat the art piece myself at an auto body shop, working with a spray gun, then cleaning up my spray equipment. Multiple trips are happening in that clear coat process. After a piece is fully cured and completed (with the clear coat), I take it to the gallery, measure to hang my art pieces, climb a ladder to adjust the lighting on the art, and then get on my website and social media to market my work. When my art is purchased, I offer the special service of hanging the piece in the house of the collector (they love that), because my art is heavy, made out of steel sheets, and requires a fine eye for measurement. I have special hangers also made for my steel canvases. Before I sell and hang the art, I sometimes take my “best” images to a professional photographer who takes high-resolution shots (multiple section areas for the one image) so that I have digitized images to put on metal reproductions of sections of the piece I also market and sell. Because I also custom order and pick up my steel canvases (made by a local steel fabricator), there are multiple modes of transport of my art, in and out of my truck, during the entire process from start to a finished product. More intensive physical exertion. My art products are no different than if I were a cabinet or furniture maker. Lots of capital upfront, marketing for buyers, closing the sales, administration paperwork, paying the gallery their commission for being on their walls to give me the best exposure (where I sell most of my originals). I have to constantly be looking for ideas for my abstract pieces, make myself work when I don’t feel like it (because its a job that pays the bills). Like all retail businesses, you need to keep coming up with new looks, new products, rotate out old inventory with new products to keep customers coming back. Not all art sells immediately, so I need to keep doing new works to keep my brand and style fresh for collectors. So I have to rent a storage unit to store my old and new inventory. There are a lot of hidden expenses in being an artist along the line of what I do (i.e.–paint products, cleaning products, spray equipment, clear coat products, website maintenance through the graphic artist/designer who does my site, the gallery’s commission, gas for travel, wear and tear on the vehicle I use to transport my art during the process of creating and finishing it, etc. … etc.). So a hearty “amen” to the question, “Is it hard work?” This is not a list of complaints, it comes with the territory. It isn’t a romantic, pie-in-the-sky, career as much as some might think. Yes, I enjoy the process. For me, “the process” is the end, more so than the completed product. Of course, the greatest joy in my work comes from the delight of people who admire and value my art, especially those who love it so much they can’t leave it hanging at the gallery. That completes the circle, from start to finish, and there’s a lot of work that happens between those two points.

    Artist Jay Zinn, Davidson, NC — AVA Gallery Davidson, NC. http://jayzinnart.com

  19. “Hard” is an interesting word here. Yes, making art is hard work, especially for those who toil at it day in and day out, sometimes going way past one’s bedtime and falling into sleep exhausted. When I create I move about, and as a painter and writer I find myself being quite athletic at what I do because my passion, my emotions, move me every which-way, whether I’m standing up doing art or sitting at my computer knocking out the words. However, at least for me, it is the easiest thing in the world to make art because I am simply being me: an artist. It’s what I take for granted, something I must do, no questions asked, so it’s like walking, talking, breathing. (Not to mention that I am in love with making art, and being in love is the most exhilarating feeling in the world. Everything becomes better and easier when you are in love). Of course, there is the continual need to improve/transform one’s art. I am always aware that I must go further, deeper, be more daring, more interesting, more experimental if I am to emerge an artist of any worth. But that’s not “hard.” It’s a delicious challenge I welcome every morning when I wake up and jump out of bed, ready to get back to the hardest/easiest work I have ever done.

  20. Thanks for asking!!!!! Now let me vent!🤗Sometimes the frustration is overwhelming. It seems that no one except another artist understands that it is actually work. Also, they just assume that you are doing what you love… sometimes I do love being an artist. Many times, though, I feel like it’s a curse…..and the business end drags me into deep dark places sometimes….
    🤗
    But….. I where I feel like this is what I have to do … I really do, for the most part, like it…maybe sometimes love it…. Final answer? Sometimes!

  21. Hello All,

    Hard Work? No harder than running an art gallery. WAIT! Running a gallery IS hard work!

    Sure, you get to spend a couple hours a day talking to customers and one of them says, “Say no more! I want them all!” And then you get to spend another 12 hours that day doing all the behind-the-scenes-crappola-work that also has to get done so your business will stay afloat! Same thing with Artists… you get to spend a couple hours creating then it’s back to the crappola.

    Reminds me of something I overheard at an art fair I was working…: “Ya know, artists don’t have regular jobs where they work. They just work the weekends and have the week days off.”

    It’s one of those things which, if you’re not in it, then you have no clue how hard [and grueling] it can be.

    —Chris

  22. I think it varies depending on a specific work. Some almost paint themselves. Others, you wrestle with for months, only to put it away, and then get it out again ans wrestle some more. If the pendulum swings too far toward “hard work” your creativity suffers. Like stress (well, it IS a sort of stress), too little and too much are both detrimental.

  23. I, like several others here got a message that “…Your [sic] do not meet the restrictions on this survey.” There is no indication on what basis this restriction was made and I would like further explanation about the origin for this restriction. I am an artist! Why do my thoughts not count? – So, I will provide my answer anyway. I think the creation of art is not the problem and is, in itself, not “hard”. However, being an “artist” – as in earning a living at being an artist, is hard. As others above have explained, the back-office and marketing parts of earning a living as an artist is hard and takes many of the same skills as building a business of any kind. The actual execution of producing an art “product” after the initial creative impulse, is or may be “hard” in the sense that one has to concentrate on all the elements of artistic production, plus applying the skills and techniques that are dependent on experimentation and experience. This is not hard in the same way as “hard physical labor”, but is taxing in the same way that thinking, concentrating and extremely focused attention, can produce weariness. Being in “the groove” while producing a painting (or other art object) is simultaneously like a delicious trance, yet has its own problem-solving attributes – which can be specifically “hard” like solving the clash of colors or the balance of line, space, design, texture, etc. However, for the artist (and hopefully for the viewing public), the labor of being an artist, produces a zen-like high and high award that makes the hard work payoff in the cost/benefit analysis of life!

  24. Art is hard work and enjoyment. I only feel tired after a full day on my feet and planing the next steps and looking forward to a dried layer so that I can continue

  25. Yes, the work is hard, (I am a jewelry designer) the hours never ending and the financial investment is on going when it comes to tools, supplies and advertising. But, once you’ve tasted the joy and freedom that comes from personal creativity there is no turning back…to do anything else but follow your heart feels like a torture at the level of your soul…
    Marcy Pendergast
    http://www.theenergygarden.com

  26. To make an ordinary and cliche painting is easy for most artists. Its just technique and a few technical skills. But to develop a recognizable style and to keep growing in your art is another thing entirely. I feel that the majority of art we see is just mimickry of some other art the artist has seen or is in the current fad of the moment. For some artists it is enough to make “common” art that many buyers will like because they are comfortable with it and it feels familiar.
    To convey a common subject in a new way or in some new way of thinking or seeing is hard.
    Being stuck in a creative rut is very hard. It means you have to keep working until you get through it. It means you may have to try something radically different to break the mental block. Its scary and may seem like a waste of time. But I have found my best breakthroughs as an artist have been after these blocked times.
    And, no question…the business of art is the most difficult part of the career of most artists.

  27. Personally, I do not think of making art as hard work . . .if I did, I don’t think I would or should be doing it. That said, there are parts of creating that are more work than others. Sometimes trying to get paintings done for an exhibit or commission can be physically/mentally challenging because of deadlines and other constraints. There always seems to be a part of each project/painting where the thrill is gone and I just need to finish the art in order to move on to another project. That is the closest I actually get to “work”. But overall, I feel lucky that I earn my money using my innate skills to express myself, instead of a mundane job. I have never felt as if I was “working” while creating.

  28. The business end of art creation is the most difficult. I am tired of being ripped off by galleries not paying, not giving an accounting of sales, and not responding to telephone calls, and not accounting for lost or stolen work. Another example of being ripped off: I loaned a painting to what I thought was a legitimate business. The business moved with no accounting for the painting only saying it had probably been stolen. Only through my detective work and the care of the landlord leasing agent was I able to locate and retrieve the painting. Add to this the difficulty dealing with taxing agencies in my state. Enough is enough!

  29. It’s interesting reading all the comments. I also don’t understand “Your do not meet the requirements on this survey.”
    In any case, let me say that yes, creating art is hard, but glorious when you can say with paint on canvas just what you want to say. Each day is different as is each idea as is each canvas as is each artist. At this point in my life I wouldn’t want to do anything else to fill my days. I feel blessed to be able to express my feelings and my thoughts on a stretched canvas with paint and a brush.

  30. Brings an old joke to memory… 🙂
    A lowly office clerk was asked by his boss: ‘Is love a work or a pleasure?”.
    The clerk responded: “It really depends whether I am talking about your daughter, or your wife!”

  31. When I worked at a regular job, I was tired at the end of the day. My tiredness felt draining. I worked at something I didn’t really care about.

    When I work at creating art, I am tired at the end of the day. My tiredness feels satisfying. I work at something I greatly enough.

  32. Define hard work: emotionally rough; intellectually difficult; physically hard?
    It can be physically hard for sculptors, ceramicists, any whose media needs muscular strength or endurance. For others when dealing with demanding clients’ restrictions, traveling, or carrying gear for plein air, or dealing with weather extremes.
    It can be emotionally rough when the art is created from a deep personal passion or heart-wrenching reaction to an event.
    It can be intellectually difficult when coming up with the idea (if not informed by some exquisite inspiration), forming a good design, the decisions on materials, colors, what feeling to communicate and how to do so….
    As a painter, these are all ways that make artmaking “hard”, but I love it and it is most satisfying when I know I have put my “all” into it.
    To quote David Curtis, “If you’re not knackered at the end of the day, you’re not doing it right.”

  33. I think you have to define what hard work means to you. If time means hard work then yes absolutely. Some of my sculptures can take well over 200 hours. I love every aspect of the creation process however so I don’t consider it hard just tedious. There are certainly aspects of being a working arts that requires a lot of tedioum. I don’t enjoy mold making and a beginner would find it very difficult but once you wrap your head around it, it’s actually fairly simple. Just tedious. I would call some aspects of sculpting tedious. Scales on a dragon for example can seem to take forever. For me, taking off and Putting on all the different hats to successfully run a business is hard. Hard work is doing things I don’t enjoy.

  34. From the artists I know well, it’s like any other career. If you are in a career you love, you work hard AND you enjoy it. Sometimes, you work hard because you enjoy it.

    Where there are more frustrations for artists is that the market is a fuzzy market. Someone making a product that sells at retail has a reasonably clear set of pricing and demand. But art is a fascinating, often fickle, market.

  35. Not sure why, but this is what my webpage said about your survey: Your do not meet the restrictions on this survey. Would be happy to take it if it becomes available.

    Great question in general — I agree it’s both — there’s a lot of struggle in it, but it’s also play and pleasure. We’re lucky to generally like our work, when so many have to slog at something. I don’t think it gets old for most of us, because there’s so much room to grow all the time — I would think if you’ve been, say, painting for 30 or 40 years, you’d still be facing new challenges all the time. Just not the same old ones.

  36. “Hard work” is relative. It is all about how you define “hard.” There are a lot of people who do hard work in all kind of jobs (in my other life I am a nurse. I would consider that hard work, but I also love it). Creating can be hard work, but also very rewarding when everything comes together nicely. For me it comes from inside. I have to make art. It is an inner drive. I run into obstacles, and I guess overcoming those is hard at times and leaving me drained. It is frustrating at times, but learning to push through this, continuing, and hopefully in the end succeeding is what makes it rewarding.
    Interesting that one definition in a search for the definition of “hard work” comes back as “a great deal of effort or endurance.” A hefty dose of this is definitely needed if you want to be successful at it!
    (I also was not able to do the survey).

  37. For some reason as noted above the survey does not load. At first I thought, “Ah- I haven’t met the criteria for being an artist. (But I know better).
    So- I mostly see the work as relentless (thus hard) but exhilarating as it the project comes to a completion. The work of creativity (which I equate with the art process) is not on a time clock and this makes it hard work for me. I’m thinking that the work of artists is more in line with someone in the consulting sector- only because “past performance does not guarantee future success.” This is probably an answer to another question.

  38. Short answer for me is ‘yes’… but not in the way you think. I enjoy every minute of creating but I put a lot of pressure on myself. I have to say, I have taken your advice and took some time to create a portfolio I love in order to start approaching galleries. I am just about to do this although I have been ready for about 6 months. I find this part stressful and very hard work, selling that is. The rest is fine, it is hard work though, I am physically exhausted every day because I probably work harder than anyone I know. I work very long hours and I also work in many mediums so switching between each one is hard work just thinking through the medium and what I aim to create. I work in at least 2 mediums daily whether it is drawing and ceramics or painting and ceramics or drawing and painting or printing and painting etc…. But I have work that does not need my full mental focus, I tend to veer towards this when I am exhausted or stressed. Wood carving takes very little from a mental perspective for me, I do it without much thinking and it is extremely relaxing, sure you think about the shape etc but it is much slower progress and I ultimately know exactly what I want so it is really just chipping away until I am there. For me personally, I think it is a bit funny that people consider themselves to have ‘real jobs’ when I work so much harder than most of everyone I know. I also work 7 days a week but my reward is loving what I am doing, I live for it. I may not be making a ton of money at the moment or ever but when I start to put myself out there after the old confidence monster is caged I think I will be just fine.

  39. It is work, but work I always want to do. The process of creating itself can be up and down, so the more experienced the artist the more easily we work through to the best end result. The down in a process while creating art often stops newer artists from moving forward. So it’s work… But oh what rewards will come, if we work and stay with it. This is how we as artist and our art grows and evolved. Pick up a brush on a whim, fun sure, but not really what I do. My art is my life

    work.

  40. Yes, creating art is hard work. Mentally my mind is constantly making decisions about how to get my vision on the canvas. What colors to use, making sure the design is solid and if I am outside sometimes there is so much it can be overwhelming. You have to leave out some things or your vision can get lost in all the “stuff”. Emotionally whatever is happening in life can appear on the canvas. Sometimes that is great, sometimes not. I want my painting to “speak” to the viewer and engage mind and emotions. Physically, in studio painting can be less demanding than plein air. There is finding the site, hauling equipment, fighting bugs, controlling the amount of sun one is exposed to, getting hot, cold sometimes wet and finding a bathroom. In both studio and plein air there is the fatigue that comes from repetitive motions in hands arms and shoulders.
    So I am tired at the end of the day, as tired as l have been at any job. If the painting has gone well it is a pleasant fatigue, if not I sometimes feel frustrated and sometimes the painting doesn’t survive critique.
    So why do I paint and look forward to painting again? I am not sure I know totally but it is rewarding and I can’t imagine my life without it.

  41. I usually don’t find creating art “hard” work as long as I listen to my muse and my right brain is activated. If I try to be too technical and not follow my muse, it can get hard then. Otherwise, I would more likely label it “intense” work. Once I start painting, everything else disappears around me and the focus is indeed intense. That often ends up physically tiring as I’m not conscious of my body and what it takes to make those marks, whether it’s a large painting or a very small one. I do have to admit that sometimes the preparation before the creation can be hard work, particularly if there is a lot of planning to do in advance. And the cleanup afterwords can be hard work. And, of course, the business side is almost always hard work, but that’s left-brain tasking. In summary, I don’t even consider the actual creation of the art as work at all but more as an essential part of my being–something I must do to live this life like breathing.

  42. I was “Restricted from Comment” but will answer anyway.
    My art inspiration comes in waves. I was advised once, to create every single day, even if it something inconsequential to me. I find this idea of daily art, helps force me to work even if my inspiration just isn’t as focused as I is on some of my projects.
    Anne Harver Angle Smith, Louisburg, KS

  43. Dear Jason I often remember what Bob Mitchum said ~ that his work was not really like work {or words to that effect}. Like him I have spent plenty of years doing hard, mundane, laborious jobs. I think that was a good thing as well, as it taught me the value of the work ethic, of knuckling down and just getting on with it. {These pictures won’t paint themselves.} The Bodymind likes things regular. For me these days there is nothing else I am willing to do. It is what I always wanted to do yet never imagined that I would. I feel I was born to make pictures and the previous jobs were the perfect training. Like someone up there likes me and has made it so. I have now made it so there is no other option as I have dug myself in very deep ~ determined to do what I am driven and fortunate enough to be able to do. Happily people say they like what I do, that it is a gift that artists have and should not be wasted ~ so that keeps me going. Plus like you I read a lot of Art History as it helps to see that they had doubts and doubters yet still just carried on. No matter what. Your dad was an artist so I can see your fascination and joy in what you do to bring on others. Good on you . Gary Lovering, London, U.K.

  44. Hi Jason, For me, making art is like going on vacation. Yes, there is part of the process that is the same. Making molds for the bronze, cleaning up the waxes. It’s all fun!!!. It takes me away from mowing the lawn and doing dishes. The foundry process takes about ten weeks. By the time my bronze comes back it is like a new surprise. Can’t wait to get back to making wax.

  45. Yes it’s hard work. It’s challenging, constant study, constant persistance with problem solving, frustrating when you can’t quite, despiriting. There’s also no such thing as a ‘normal working week’. If I need to push on into a 10, 11, 12 hour day, then so be it and yes, I’m shattered by the concentration. I have little time for anything else at times. No downing tools when the clock strikes. Being productive is my mission as an artist trying to pull my practice up by the boot straps. Large paintings especially go through a ‘slog’ phase where you’re working away and don’t seem to get anywhere. There’s always an ebb and flow and pushing through the ‘ebbs’ is hard, draining. I’m hoping that once I hit ‘mid career’, it’ll get easier. It’s a question you’ve missed off the survey methinks.

    There’s also nothing like it for exhilaration, satisfaction, fascination, excitement. It’s all in balance. Addictive. Hard work = reward.

    It’s also kind of irrelevant as to whether it’s hard work or not. The periods in my life when I’ve not been able to make art, something in me has suffered – don’t understand it, haven’t navel gazed about it, it just is so.

  46. Continuous improvement and progress requires ‘hard’ work. I’m continually studying past and current art, seeing what I can improve on in my art, refining my technical knowledge, keeping on top of social media, keeping an eye on potencial galleries and shows, etc. So yes… the marketing part is probably the hardest but I love the creative process. I thrive on this type of hard work! It challenges me and I feel a deep sense of accomplishment when I complete a painting. Every step is a step forward. And I can see my progress. Makes all the hard work worthwhile.

  47. On the first question, I would answer yes and no. I do metal sculpture and so, physically, it can be very hard work. But once I get started on the piece I can get lost in it. I love how one piece often leads into creating another piece, an another, and so on. I guess I would say that it’s very hard work that I love doing and would like to be doing more of it !

  48. Because teaching art has always been the primary way that I make enough money to live and buy art supplies, one the hardest parts of being an artist for me is finding the valuable time to spend in my studio. Once in the studio, time is again needed to create and develop the quality of work that I want to put out into the world. Whether I create a masterpiece or not, the actual work of applying paint to canvas is always a joy for me.

  49. Granite is hard. Diamonds are harder, and soapstone is harder than plasticine clay. It takes work to turn stones and trees into works of art. To physicists, that’s what work is. It’s enough work to make my 76-year-old body stiff and sore every night, because I work every day. In that sense, subtractive sculpting is a lot of work and there’s no easy way out of it. Though I often refer to sculpting as ‘heavy labor’, and it is, I rarely think of it as ‘hard work’ and never speak of it that way. (About the stiffness and soreness I reported, I discovered something important a few months ago. In the long run, it doesn’t matter very much how stiff and sore I am at night. What matters more is how stiff and sore I am in the morning, and how eager I am to do it again.)

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