Day in the life of
Fine Artist – Rebecca Harnden
A typical day in the life for me includes a mix of finding inspiration for new collections, ordering materials, painting both studies and larger works for collections, photographing and editing original art for online sales and print reproduction, documenting my process to share on social media, packaging sold paintings for shipping, and doing administrative work like bookkeeping and updating my website.
I work a traditional 9-5pm Monday-Friday as an artist from a home studio. I choose to work a traditional schedule because it gives me time off on the weekends and evenings to socialize and is most efficient when conversing with others via email or phone during the workday. During those hours at work my schedule looks like this:
9-9:30am: Arrive at my studio. Turn on equipment (computers, printers, etc.). Check email for any urgent matters that need to be addressed that day or week and schedule time to complete the tasks.
9:30-10:30am: Work on new paintings. I use this time to work on paintings for sale for an upcoming collection launch or work on commissions. This time includes every step of the painting process including toning the surface, sketching the composition, the underpainting, detail work & completing the painting by signing and varnishing the piece. I usually have multiple paintings going on at once and at different stages. So there is a little bit of each step getting done to different pieces every day.
10:30-11am: Coffee break. During this time I will grab a cup of coffee and sit down at my computer or with a stack of magazines and my sketchbook to gather inspiration, color schemes, or sketch new ideas for upcoming collections. Planning a new collection takes time, including research and ordering materials, so I like to start this process at least a couple of months before I know I’ll be launching a collection of new work.
11-12pm: Back to painting. After my coffee break, I resume painting and finishing pieces until lunch. If I am getting a collection ready to launch I will photograph pieces and edit the files to make them print ready to produce posters and other products.
12-1pm: Lunch break & run errands. I grab a quick lunch and drop off orders at our local shipping center, that I’ve packed the previous day, to be picked up by USPS or FedEx.
1-3pm: Review contracts, new opportunities and sales. After lunch, I will read through any licensing contracts and/or look for new opportunities. I also use this time to get to know, communicate & answer questions from people who are seeking commissioned work. During this time I will fill out applications to trade shows and local vending fairs.
3-4pm: Order supplies & process orders to ship next day. During this time I check my sales reports from my sales channels and website and I will complete the order by packaging the painting and getting it ready to drop off at our local shipping center the next day. If there are any supplies or materials that I need I’ll place an order at this time.
4-5pm: Admin & Bookkeeping. During the last hour of the day, I am pretty tired so I like to use the time to complete simple tasks. I will upload receipts or send any necessary files to my bookkeeper, complete reports, data entry, etc. I will reply to simple emails and clear out my inbox. If my website needs updating or there are social media comments to reply to I will do it during this time.
Control over creative process & business practices. Since I work for myself I get to set my own business hours, policies, and practices- which I value. I don’t have to ask permission from anyone or please a manager. As long as I’m following the law, respecting myself and satisfying my customers I have the freedom to do what I want!
Meeting new people who share a common passion. Whether it’s meeting new collectors or sharing tips with other artists, it’s a joy to create a community around something you love.
Irregular income. Especially when your first starting out, or even if your more established and haven’t put yourself on the payroll yet, it can be difficult to plan & budget due to fluctuating income. Since you don’t know exactly how many sales you are going to make per month it’s hard to plan your income. This can be helped by having an emergency fund in place if you have a slow month and by budgeting costs so your spending is practical.
Work/life balance. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Many artists, myself included, work from a home-based studio and it’s tempting to run out to the studio when you should be relaxing. As artists, our fuel is fresh inspiration. Many vacations have been spent documenting interesting colors & patterns for future work.