The Procrastinating Artist

Is procrastination preventing you from creating a successful art career? Here’s how to fix it.  


Many artists I know (including myself occasionally!) struggle with procrastination. Especially when it comes to doing the boring stuff that will help your career like marketing your art.

The Procrastinating Artist

But if you ever want to have a chance at selling art online (or anywhere really) procrastination is something that needs to be overcome. 

In this article, I’m going to cover why artists procrastinate and what you can do to move past it so that you can have a meaningful career as an artist. 

Why do artists procrastinate? 

Some artists, like some people, are more prone to procrastination than others. When we procrastinate, we’re simply avoiding tasks that we don’t want to do. And there are many reasons you might find yourself doing this. 

Here are some of the most common reasons people procrastinate: 

  • FEAR. You might be fearing negative feedback when you try to market your art. Or you might fear finding success! 
  • Feelings of overwhelm or anxiousness 
  • The task at hand simply feels too hard 
  • You don’t enjoy trying to sell your art online 
  • The task at hand feels like a problem for “future” you (ie: the deadline isn’t imminent)  

Gaining clarity on WHY you’re procrastinating can be helpful to successfully addressing and overcoming procrastination. Once you understand why and how your procrastination is stopping you from achieving your art career goals, you’ll be able to tackle it appropriately. 

Now I can’t tell you why you’re procrastinating, but I can help you with some strategies to beat it once and for all. 


Strategies to overcome procrastination as an artist

Eat the Frog

If you’ve never heard the phrase ‘eat the frog’ before, basically what it means is that you do the thing you LEAST want to do FIRST. Get it out of the way. Then the rest of your day will be downhill. 

So if you want to sell your photographs online but you hate trying to figure out how to price them, make that your top priority for the day. 


Remind yourself WHY you want a career as an artist 

Reconnecting with WHY you want to be an artist can be a powerful motivator. 

Let’s say you’re procrastinating on submitting a pitch to be interviewed on an artist’s podcast. Write down a list of reasons why this would be a great opportunity for you as an artist and how it will directly influence your art career. This will help you to reconnect with your why and move forward. 


Treat yourself or ‘dangle the carrot’ 

Sometimes we just need to bribe ourselves with a treat or fun activity as a reward for doing the thing we don’t want to do. For me – that’s a glass of wine and a big chunk of cheese. For you that might be some fancy paper you’ve had your eye on or a trip to an exhibition, you’ve been dying to check out.

Want to take things a step further? 

Put a friend or family member in charge of $100 of your money. If you don’t do what you say you’ll do by the deadline you’ve set, have them donate the money to a cause you absolutely don’t support. Brutal, but effective! 


Make a list and order your priorities 

Most artists I know feel super overwhelmed when we just let all the things we need to get done float around in our brains. It’s nerve-racking! So get it all out of your head and onto a page. 

Brain dump every single thing you need to get done for marketing your art. Next, pick out 1-3 things that need to get done FIRST. Forget about the rest for now and just focus on those 1-3 things. Once they’ve been completed, simply rinse and repeat.


Take tiny steps forward

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. For example, if you’re tackling a huge project like uploading photographs onto a platform to sell your art online, break it up into teeny tiny steps. Don’t try and do the whole project in one sitting. 

After you’ve completed one teeny, tiny step take a short break before you move onto the next. 


Set a timer and take regular breaks 

Speaking of breaks, personally I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro technique. This is a time management practice where you set yourself a timer for 25 minutes of focused attention and then take a 5 minute break. You can use your break to stretch your legs, have a drink, eat yet more cheese, or scroll social media. 

Breaking up your day into smaller chunks rather than trying to focus for big blocks of time can be a great way to reduce overwhelm and get more done. 


Focus on how good you’re going to feel once the job is done!

I don’t know about you but personally, I hate going to the gym. I resent putting my sneakers on, leggings are basically unbearable, and the sweat! The sweat alone is enough to put me off. 

But you know what? Everytime I commit an hour of exercising I never, ever regret it. In fact, I usually feel great afterwards! 

The same goes for any kind of work you need to get done that you don’t want to do. If you don’t like marketing your art online just think about how relieved you’re going to feel once you get it done. Same goes for any kind of task that will move your art career forward. 

Now stop reading this blog and go do the thing you’re putting off! 


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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections. 

Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style. 

Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com

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