Balancing Art and Business

by Carolyn Edlund

How do self-employed artists balance studio and administrative time without losing their minds?


Advice for Artists from Artists. We asked, "How do you balance studio and administrative time?" See the answers at


Turns out there are about as many ways to “get everything done” as there are people who are doing it all. These artists share insights and advice on how to make it all work.


Annie Strack

My schedule is hectic and full of distractions, so I schedule painting time and actually write it in my calendar, the same as I schedule a lunch date or a doctor’s appointment. If I find extra, unscheduled time during the week to paint, that’s great — but at the very least, I have set aside a few hours here and there as an appointment, and somehow, that seems to be easy to keep.

Scott Dykema

I get out into the studio every morning and work with or without inspiration. I take time every day for exercise also. Every day is balanced between making art and meetings and social media and writing proposals and websites, blah blah blah! But most importantly, I make art every day. Bad or good, I just move through it. Sometimes the art is bad and it gets scrapped, but it always informs the next work.

Pam Brewer

I chose the time of day when I feel the least creative. Usually I do my best creative work in the early morning and at night, so during the day is when I get admin work done. I treat it as if I was working for someone else in an office – so typical workday hours. Every day I make a list of what needs to be accomplished, and make sure to check it all off so I have that positive feeling.

Todd Scalise

I usually divide the week into blocks; Operations (the art and creative development of the business), Sales and Marketing (outreach, emails, pitches), HR (project work time for staff and contractors), and Meetings (move initiatives forward, client time). Anything that does not get done moves over to the next week. If something gets moved three times, it wasn’t worth doing, and is usually eliminated.


Delegate chores and errands, and make sure you own (and use) a crock pot. ~ Shannon Fannin


Theresa Wells Stifel

Recognize the fact that it’s impossible to get it all done every day. Decide what makes you less crazy – getting your administrative tasks and cleaning out of the way so you can be free to create art, or do your art first so that it actually happens! Different people peak at different times of the day, so matching your strengths to your desires without chastising yourself or comparing yourself to anyone else will enable you to lead a less stressful creative life.

Sarah Bush

Lately, I’ve been trying to do at least one hour of marketing a day 5 days a week and to keep a weekly log. Even if I spend 6 hours working on marketing one day, I still try to do an hour the following day, in order to create and maintain the needed consistency. Very often it means I manage only an hour each day which might not sound like much, but it moves me forward. The weekly log is very helpful, as it’s easy for me to lose track of what I’m doing and feel like I’m not doing anything. I also started using an accountability partner and knowing that I’ve got the call coming up makes me do the work. It’s still a big challenge to transition between admin and studio time because they are so different, but I find if I do something symbolic to shift my thinking, it helps. For instance, putting on my apron as I walk into the studio helps shift my mentality.

Mark Witzling

The first thing to do is to establish a positive mindset. Treat studio time as sacred. Then commit to bringing that creative output into the world. Too often, artists view the marketing and business activities as a necessary evil. It helps to view it as an integral part of your overall creative process. This closes the perceptual divide between the two activities. Recognize that pursuing both creates more opportunities to create more art.

Erin Bassett

I use a paper/pencil agenda book that has large pages for each week, including large weekly do-to and notes section for each week. Each day gets its own To Do list with boxes I check off. I usually do a brain dump on Sunday night for the week, then every morning to focus on the day and every night to prep for the next day. These To Do lists are usually a combo of art and admin depending on what I have going on that week. I take big deadlines and work my way backwards, marking the steps I need to accomplish on particular days to keep myself on track. I try to limit social media posts/ research to the mornings and evenings so I don’t get distracted during the day.

Shannon Fannin

Delegating is essential. You can’t do everything and be a prolific artist too. Delegate chores and errands, and make sure you own (and use) a crock pot.

Robin Pedrero

My administrative time includes bookkeeping, databasing, marketing, website maintenance, mailings, newsletters, shipping and customer service. Technology has greatly improved my ability to run my business better than ever. I make the art, I database using Artwork Archive, I can easily copy and paste that content to my website, share on blog, social media and repeat. I find creating habits that work is key. However, just like the book “Who moved my Cheese” one must be aware of when something stops working and come up with creative problem solving to find solutions.

Chad Keith

Set specific times to reach obtainable goals. Using a calendar broken into hours vs. daily To Do lists helps to visually see where your time goes, thus allowing you to make adjustments and prioritize throughout the day instead of, perhaps, all at the end of the day where you then are stressed about tomorrow.

Cheryl Maeder

Every day I go to the studio, work on creating art, market my work through emails, write proposals, etc., as well as, social marketing. Also I take time during the week for inspiration, such as going to museums, be in nature, and watch inspiring movies.

Angela Treat Lyon

I have a very specific goals/task schedule that is for every day month to month. I do and check tasks off every day to work towards a set money goal for the year and keep to it assiduously. It’s not hard, is very task-oriented, and gets real results. Includes daily creating and marketing, so I don’t go full-on into one and lose focus on the other. It sounds rigid, but it actually makes my life easier knowing what I’ll be doing each day. I have so many things going that I can keep them straight this way and not feel overwhelmed.

Gayle Mahoney

I set very specific and attainable goals with deadlines. Right now my goal is to complete at least one large or two smaller paintings per week. I also set weekly goals for marketing/gallery research and outreach. My schedule varies but creating deadlines has greatly increased my output.

Corrina Thurston

I’ve had to learn how my brain works. My thinking is not linear, my mind works in a web structure, with one idea breaking off and creating others. My advice to anyone is: don’t try to force yourself to work the way anyone else works, even if it seems more efficient. Work however works best for your learning/working style. I wish I could draw every day, but for me, it’s best if I have a couple months of intense drawing and then a couple months of intense marketing and networking, and then back to drawing.


Do you have a proven method of balancing your creative and administrative tasks? How do you do it?


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  1. Thanks for a great list of really good ideas. It was fun participating! I love this one especially from Todd Scalise: …If something gets moved three times, it wasn’t worth doing, and is usually eliminated. Good thinking! Thanks again –

    • I agree, and it’s probably a good way to look at life in general. I’ve heard that if you don’t wear a piece of clothing for a year, take it out of your closet and donate it. Same with ideas … some are just ideas, but don’t merit being put into action.

  2. Excellent article – thank you!

  3. I really needed to read this wonderful article today.
    Thank you, it was very helpful!

  4. karen sielski says

    anybody else use the Artwork Archive list…looks interesting , but is it a real time saver?

    • Karen,
      Artwork Archive is a very popular service with artists. It helps keep everything organized, and is for the serious artist who has an inventory, collectors, and work out at galleries and exhibitions.

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