7 Self-Improvement and Productivity Tips From Incredible Artists
Have you noticed how everyone seems obsessed these days with being better today than yesterday? It’s true! It’s such a hot topic that I’m writing this article because “self-improvement” and “productivity tips” are two of the most clapped-for tags on Medium. (Jokes, real reasons include a love of famous quotes and badass artists).
Rather than looking to the usual sources for life hacks — you know, famous CEOs, world leaders, cult leaders — It’s time to look to a profession that often gets a tough rap (yet requires more grit and determination than most): Artists.
Artists put in endless hours on “got to pay the rent” commissions, day jobs, night jobs, teaching gigs, community service, families, and occasionally even sleep. And they still find time to work on pieces they’re passionate about.
They draw on trains commutes, paint in the midnight hours, squeeze in sketches between lunch breaks and use every spare second to create. It’s obvious that artists have some made productivity skills… or at least coping skills. So here are 7 things we can learn from successful artists both in modern and classical times, about getting stuff done.
1. “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream” — Vincent Van Gogh
We all get caught up in dreams. Whether it’s the raunchy one you had last night or a life-long desire to buy a twin-engine jet and start your own superhero club — a good dream can be the spark you need to transform your life.
While you may feel instantly encouraged by Van Gogh’s whimsical quote, remember this. For your dreams to come real, you need to pick up the proverbial paintbrush and translate them into reality.
Without doing something to make your dreams happen, they’ll stay outside your reach, teasing you from afar.
2.“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” — Pablo Picasso
Pop quiz time: How many artworks do you think Pablo Picasso created?
He was 91 years old when he died, so if we generously assume he created 150 artworks per year (even at age zero), he’s have made 13,650 of them. Or let’s go crazy, one artwork ever single day (365 a year) would equal 33,215 works of art.
But no, instead he created 50,000 works of art over his lifetime. 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and numerous tapestries and rugs.
What we learn from Picasso is this: If you’re not doing the work consistently, you won’t get the result you want. So, do the work. Even if you don’t feel like it, and the reward will come.
3. “I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.” — Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo lived an exceptionally difficult life. She suffered from Polio, was in a car crash that required her to have 30 different surgeries, had her leg amputated for gangrene, suffered a life-threatening miscarriage and more. Her days passed in clouds of physical pain and depression. But she always kept fighting.
From Kahlo, we learn that it is never, ever time to give up. That if you try, little by little, you can survive. And little by little, things WILL get better. On your quest to self-improvement, keep this in mind like a guiding star. Sometimes it will feel pointless, but often it’s not.
4. “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.” “What mood is that?” “Last-minute panic.” — Bill Watterson
Bill Watterson is the mastermind behind the famous Calvin and Hobbs comic series. In this quote, we learn something very astute about productivity.
Nothing makes you more productive than last-minute panic. I hear it’s extra effective if it’s self-inflicted.
If you need a burst of energy, find ways to put yourself under unavoidable pressure. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve.
5. “The thing about being an unstoppable force is that you can really only enjoy the experience of being one when you have something to bash yourself against” — Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh is the artist behind Hyperbole and Half, a personal fusion of comic and blog that’s maintained a cult following despite years of inactivity. She talks about depression and her childhood often and reveals her innermost struggles.
This quote highlights something intrinsic I think all humans feel. There’s no satisfaction in being super clever or strong if you never get to use your power. When setting goals and moving upward on your self-improvement scale, give yourself barriers to smash. Remembering that satisfaction will help you keep going when you start to stagnate and get lazy.
6. “Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun.” — Brom
When a gothic author and fantasy illustrator who thrives on painting in his basement tells you to play, there’s a lesson to be learned.
Being productive and improving yourself doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t need to wake up at 7:05 and follow your strict daily routine. At least you don’t need to do that EVERY morning. Give yourself time to play. Playing is how we learn, it’s how we refresh. It’s an important part of mental health. If you don’t play, you’ll just work all the time.
You only have one life, and it’s a magical thing. Don’t forget that on your journey to become “The Most Productive Person” in the room.
7. “Become good at cheating and you never need to become good at anything else.” — Banksy
Banksy is the world’s most famous graffiti artist. The mystery surrounding his identity has captured the imagination of millions. His artwork continues to make powerful statements about the world.
It’s difficult to choose a quote from Banksy — he has so many good ones. But how can you beat the lesson of cheating? All through school, society tells us that cheating isn’t how you become successful. But in the real world, things aren’t so clear cut.
Taking shortcuts, finding the fastest way to get something done, we call it “cheating” but in reality, it’s just being smart. Not everything needs to be hard all the time.
What will you create today?
Which artist inspired you the most? Let us know in the comments or by highlighting a quote. Productivity is an elusive thing, but so’s creativity. At the end of it all, the trick is to just have fun with it.
Need a better way to showcase your artwork? D Emptyspace is a free virtual gallery space where you can curate the exhibition of your dreams.
Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs
Android version coming soon!
Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!