Artists, creators, and makers have unpredictable and often-demanding schedules. You have all the pressures of running a business, with the added challenge of sustaining your creativity. Between juggling projects, finding new clients, and honing your skills, self care might be the last thing on your mind.
But taking time to practice these self care activities could make a real difference in your life and work. This isn’t just about feeling good (although that’s important!). These self care exercises will allow you to do better work as an artist, which will enrich your online portfolio. This means more clients and more projects, so you can spend time doing the thing you love to do and build that savings account!
Convinced self care should be a priority now? Let’s get into our self care checklist of 14 self care ideas for artists.
Self Care Idea #1: Schedule Your Administrative Tasks
Whether you are a designer, photographer, model, or any other kind of creative, letting small admin tasks pile up can result in creativity-sapping stress that leaves you drained.
Practice self-care and avoid this stress by scheduling a window of time weekly to work on tasks such as managing paperwork and sending out invoices, plus updating your LinkedIn and Facebook business pages, and scheduling your Instagram posts
This is also the perfect time to make sure your online portfolio is up-to-date or give it a mini refresh with any cool new work. Go with a website builder that has lots of handy features built right in so that you don’t have to add annoying plugins or—ugh—start a second site for other new functions you want to add.
Here are some online portfolio options to look out for that will help free up more time to take care of yourself:
Integration with your Instagram feed: This keeps your website fresh with on-brand content, even if you are in between projects.
An online store: You can earn a tidy little passive income from previous work.
A range of chic templates: It will allow you to switch up your layout quickly with the click of a button.
A 24/7 customer success team: This means someone is always there for you to help address any tech questions you may have.
Scheduling these tasks in manageable chunks on a regular basis means that they won’t pile up and leave you feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Artists aren’t always known for being the most organized, but a little organization can be a powerful self care strategy.
Self Care Idea #2: Protect Your Eye Health
This self care activity is extra important for photographers and graphic designers who spend most of their time hunched in front of a computer screen or two. It’s no secret that this isn’t great for the eyes, but here are a few examples of self care activities you can do to minimize the strain:
Dim the lights. Draw the curtains to create a more ambient light in the room.
Install an anti-glare screen. Dimming the lights will help reduce glare, but installing a screen can make it even less obtrusive.
Don’t forget to blink! People blink less often when they’re looking at a screen, but blinking moistens the eyes, reducing irritation and discomfort.
Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes you should look away from the screen for 20 seconds, focusing on something 20 feet away. Set a timer on your phone until you build the habit.
Self Care Idea #3: Schedule Breaks for Self Care
Taking breaks is a super important self care strategy for artists. Have you been staring at your illustration, sculpture, or design for hours, and just can’t seem to get it right?
One of the best things you can do when your productivity is stalling is to step away and do something totally unrelated to your craft. Take a walk with a friend. See a concert. Do some work in the garden. Visit a cat cafe! You’ll see that when you come back to your project with a clear mind, that problem you were having will be much easier to resolve. Better yet…
Self Care Idea #4: Sleep!
This is the among the most restorative self care activities you can do for yourself as an artist. Prioritize those zzz’s and watch your stamina, creativity, and output improve. More output means a better portfolio of work, and that means more clients for you. While cramming lots of work into one night may be tempting sometimes, unless you have absolutely no other choice, try to hit the hay for seven to eight hours.
Many studies have confirmed that sleep and creativity are deeply intertwined, and is a key way to take care of yourself. When we sleep, our brains seek and solidify connections between ideas or problems we encountered the day before. That’s why you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea, and why it is so much easier to complete a project after a restorative rest.
Self Care Idea #5: Know Your Worth
You love what you do. You’ve worked hard to build a beautiful online portfolio, and spent tons of time networking and fine-tuning your SEO to bring visitors to your site. Now you have a new client! That’s wonderful news, but there is still hard work ahead.
It is normal for clients to low-ball you and see what kind of deal they can get, but part of self care management is ensuring that you don’t sell yourself short. This means sharpening those negotiating skills.
To help you do this, take time to familiarize yourself with your costs. Depending on your artistic practice, these may include studio time, wardrobe, art supplies, new lenses, software subscriptions, or painting tools, to name a few. You should also include your own time, and research what the going rate is for artists similar to you.
This will help you ace those negotiations, and price your work correctly, whether it’s for jobs or on your online store. Selling yourself short time after time is will drain your energy and your bank account, so stick to your guns and consider this an important part of your self care strategy.
Self Care Idea #6: Learn to Say No
Sometimes, no price is worth doing a job you feel uncomfortable with. Maybe you are a model and have a bad feeling about a TFP shoot, or you’re a designer being asked to create a piece for an organization you disagree with. In these situations, the paycheck may just not be worth it.
Other times, you may just be too overextended to take on another project. You may be balancing work, school, and family life, and the prospect of another project makes you instantly feel anxious. Treat your time as the valuable resource that it is, and exercise self care by saying no when a job doesn’t align with your goals and vision for your career, or simply doesn’t fit into your schedule.
Self Care Idea #7: Set Honest Expectations for Your Clients
Honesty really is the best policy. If your goals and those of your client don’t align, both of you might find yourselves in a stressful situation.This can take the joy out of your art, and prevent you from creating the best possible impression on your client.
Part of your self care practice should include creating a system to manage the expectations of your clients from the beginning of every project. These should go on your self care list:
Request a detailed brief from the client, and make sure you understand what is being asked of you.
Go over any questions that come up for you at the beginning. Showing this level of attention to detail will show that you really care about the outcome!
Use an online portfolio with an excellent built-in client-proofing tool. This will make ongoing collaboration with your client easy. A good client-proofing tool will allow you to share private galleries, review client feedback, and enable image download for your client all in one place.
For more ideas on how to keep your clients happy, check out our guide to client relations.
Self Care Idea #8: Try to Celebrate Once in Awhile
Building a career as an artist requires a lot of hard work, and it won’t happen all at once. That’s why it’s so important for artists to exercise self care by celebrating all those small wins along the way.
Whether it’s connecting with someone who may become a potential client one day, spending a day working on a personal project, or uploading your latest work to your online portfolio, pause and feel grateful for the fact that you are taking steps towards building the career you dream of.
Self Care Idea #9: Use Writing as Self Care
Writing is an excellent self care exercise for artists. You can try a self care journal where you write down your gratitude points every day. Or why not try keeping a blog that allows you to share your process and behind-the-scenes adventures with potential clients and collaborators? Choose a website that offers a built-in blog feature so that you don’t have to set up a seperate website for it.
Bonus benefit: keeping a blog on your portfolio website can drive more visitors to your site! You can boost your results by checking out our SEO guide for tips and tricks on the keywords you can work into your writing to drive even more web traffic.
Self Care Idea #10: Stay Social
We all know that creative work can be very lonely. Running a business can be solitary work, too. That’s why artists should consider making time for friends and family as a valuable self care exercise.
Being social is good for the soul. As an added benefit, discussing your creative work or latest project with the people in your life who you care about and trust provides a safe space to work through ideas or problems you may be having with your latest photo series or the children’s book illustrations you’re working on.
Self Care Idea #11: Take a Self Care Day
You’ve built the perfect online portfolio, and now you have some clients working with you. Congratulations! That is great news for your career.
As an artist, it is important to stay connected with the passion for your art that got you started in the first place—and that means putting a self care plan in place for self care days. This means that taking a day to go on a photo walk just for yourself or working on a portrait sketch that you don’t intend to sell shouldn’t be considered a waste of time. These self care activities keep you in touch your purpose as an artist. Plus, this unstructured practice will ultimately improve your for-hire work!
Self Care Idea #12: Connect to Your Community
Another self care tip for artists is to stay connected to your community. That could involve meeting up with other creatives in your field, or even reading interviews and articles about other artists you admire for inspiration. You can also chat with creatives online.
This will help you feel that you are part of a community. You’ll realize that all makers face many of the same challenges that you do, and learn new ways to handle to the joys and difficulties of creative work!
Self Care Idea #13: Nurture Your Body
Depending on what kind of art you practice, you probably have special considerations when taking care of your body. You may be peering into a laptop, lugging around heavy gear and equipment, or posing in fashion shoots for hours on end.
If this sounds familiar, check out YouTube for tons of free and high quality yoga and stretching videos, which can take just a few minutes of your day. This physical self care will allow you to keep practicing your art without getting slowed down.
Self Care Idea #14: Review Your Goals and Intentions
Make time regularly to review your goals and intentions. Part of self care means making sure that your daily activities align with your personal goals.
Take a look at your online portfolio: do the projects on there reflect the kind of work you want to be getting? If not, take some time to refresh your portfolio so that you are sending a message out to clients that aligns with the projects you want to land. This will keep your art practice focused and productive! (Want more tips on how to curate your site to perfection? Take a peek at our guide on how to pick images for your portfolio.)
Now that you have some examples of self care you can use today to help you take good care of yourself, start putting them into practice and enjoy the health—and creative—benefits!
Looking for more healthy ways to maximize your creativity and productivity?
11 Ways To Battle Creative Block—And Get Back To Work
Listen Up: 12 Podcasts for Better Creative Thinking
The Apps Artists Use To Boost Creativity and Get Work Done