Hey guys welcome back to the Art Dad Blog. For all those that saw my first post earlier in the day I wanted to apologize for all the typos, they have all been corrected...I think. Remember kids, copy and paste can be the devil sometimes. Anyways, to catch everyone up to speed each blog post I plan on sharing my trials and tribulations of parenting while being a fulltime freelance artist. I don't have all the answers but my hope is for you to use these posts as a tool to help coordinate your own daily or future routines as an artist parent.
My son Oz is now 3, but I remember those early days when he was a tiny human and I had no idea what I was doing. In all honesty I still don’t, but man those first few weeks and months were super rough. This is probably not how you wanted this post to start, however, it's best I don’t sugar coat things. So let me know if this sounds familiar—you just put your child in the car seat for the first time and are driving home slow as hell trying to avoid every bump. You are saying to yourself, the hospital just let us go and now I’m at home with a baby, what do I do next? There are still deadlines, you still want to create art, there’s a convention next week, you have to teach or take class and oh yea, you have to keep this tiny human alive….WTF!!! Believe me, I understand and was in your shoes.
First off, don’t feel guilty you thought about your obligations before your child. You have spent years of working and hustling to a set schedule and this is just day one of your new life as a parent. Adjusting will take time and this does not mean you do not love your child. Holding that kid and seeing them for the first time is the purest form of unconditional love, so again don’t worry...you are OK. When Oz was born I was filled with happiness and love, but in the back of my head I was thinking about deadlines and work. Here is what my plate looked like at the time:
- Illustration for production company
- Teaching Sunday classes at the Concept Design Academy
- Master Program at Cal State Fullerton
- Preparing prints for Emerald City Comic Con
- Finishing up a piece for an art show in NYC
I’m not sharing this to show you how badass I was, nor would I want to deceive you and say you can do it all. This is not that type of blog, I sacrificed a lot of sleep and had to make a lot of compromises to get everything done and still be there as a parent and husband. In the beginning it was just me and my wife in LA. Of course we had awesome friends but not a pair of consistent hands to help out and relieve us on a daily basis. My wife was a real trooper though and took care of so much on less sleep than me, while I tried to maintain daily household chores and work routines. We lived in an apartment and the closest family we had was in San Diego.
My first piece of advice to you would be to avoid this type of build up in your work life. Please try to clear your plate as much as possible because time is now a commodity. Let’s get straight to the point, your kid doesn’t give a shit about your schedule. Got a deadline in an hour, nope you gotta change me. Gotta teach in 35 minutes, nope I need to be swaddled and rocked to sleep. Now, I am not trying to make parenthood sound awful, it’s hard work. But all those moments of me swaddling, rocking and yes even changing diapers are memories that I will cherish. Your kid is only a newborn once so be in the moment as much as possible. Your schedule revolves around your child and being a support system for your partner and vice versa. I think the most important thing to realize early on is that you will NOT have a set schedule and you won’t for a few months. The sooner you accept that, the better off you will be.
Make a list of the top 5 important work related things you need to get done, then put a star next to the top 2. Guess what, those top 2 are your priorities and that is what you will be able to get to. I’m not talking about just daily emails, or classes/weekly things you have to do, but big art projects that need a lot of time. Underestimate so if you do more, then its a plus. I would never try to overestimate what you can do, cause almost always it will not happen.
I forget the exact interview but this is something I heard in The Tim Ferris podcast that stuck in my head. It went along the lines of this—in the grand scheme of things, the days may be long but the years will fly by fast. So what does that mean? Have you ever said to yourself “Holy crap this year just flew by” or “How is it 2018 already?” Time really does fly, so in the moment you may feel like you are unable to produce or make art, but you know what….you will have time to do it later. Appreciate the small things you are doing with your child and be there for all their firsts. Cause when your kid starts running, you want to be able to look back and say, dang I remember your first rollover, your first laugh and your first walk. You won’t be saying, oh I missed my 42nd deadline. Deadlines will always be there but the “firsts” only happen once, so really think about what is important in this moment you’re living in right now.
If you like what you just read please subscribe to my blog at the top of the page and you will receive a short email blurb letting you know of a new post. Hope that helps, next post I will talk more about my schedule and how I prioritized things. Thanks everyone and see you then!