Taking vacation when you’re an artist and/or a freelancer.

Given what’s happened in the last few months, it’s hard to think about taking a break and going on vacation in the next days/weeks/months. But since it’s july and the sun is out, I wanted to talk about something that’s been bothering me for several years: the question of holidays when you’re an artist and/or a freelancer.

I rarely take vacations and there are two reasons for this.
They are very different from each other but both are very important.
The first one is probably very obvious since it’s about money.
Let me explain: to feel I’m on vacation, to rest, I have to leave my home.
I need a change of scenery, I need to see something else to feel detached from my work. If I stay at home and don’t work, I know I’ll feel guilty and I will quickly go back to my projects.
But to leave, I need money. And even though I work at the same time on commissioned works, personal projects and day jobs, my bank account rarely allows me to go on holiday.

So when I go on vacation, it’s counted in days and not weeks so I try to make the most of it…but the second reason is always there, it’s hard to ignore.
This one cannot be prepared in advance.
The second reason upsets me almost as much as the first, because if I rarely take holidays, it’s also because I wonder if I deserve them.

Some people will find this absurd, and it should be absurd for me as well.
I know I work as hard as I can and as much as I can.
And on a lot of projects at the same time.
I get up early, sometimes I stop working at 9pm, sometimes I forget it’s the weekend (especially when I really like the project I’m working on !).
And even once I’m in bed, I think about my projects.
In a previous article, I told you about the negative view some people have on artists and freelancers. And I have to admit that this view didn’t always help me, as if those people were saying “Do YOU really need to take a vacation ? ”. That feeling of being judged if I take days off. It always comes back to the idea that for some people, artists don’t need, don’t deserve to rest because they don’t really work.
Even now, I sometimes find it hard to get away from these thoughts.
In fact, I feel a little bit guilty. Guilty for taking days off to rest when I have the chance to do what I love, even though my work is far, so so far from being easy.

But on the other hand, we have to understand that we deserve days off.
We are artists/freelancers, we are human beings who work, so we deserve to give our brains a break. And to be able to maintain consistency in our work, we also need to be able to detach ourselves from it a bit.
We also have to remember that having a break helps to avoid becoming saturated, exhausted or even disgusted with what we do
In brief : without these days off, how would it be possible to go on ?

Pauline Le Pichon, Brighton, 2019

I have to admit that going on holiday for a few days not only does me good psychologically but also creatively. On the one hand, I rest, I don’t think (or as little as possible) about work because even though it’s my passion, it also creates a lot of stress…and on the other hand, I see things differently. When I travel for pleasure, I take a lot of spontaneous pictures. Something I never do when I’m at home. And I think, unpretentiously, that there’s a creative aspect which comes out of those pictures. I compose without staging, it’s different from what I usually do, but it’s still creative.
I create these images without thinking about an artist statement or an exhibition. Although I love to work on commissions and personal projects, these images created during these days of rest are synonymous with “giving my brain a break”.
I also often take advantage of my rare escapades to go to the museums : sometimes I don’t like the exhibition, sometimes I’m just lucky (like this time I came across the exhibition From Selfie to Self-Expression at the Saatchi Gallery). I also sometimes find out about current exhibitions beforehand.

Between these exhibitions, the photographs taken along the walks, the fact of changing air, of meeting new people, I come back each time reboosted, ready to go back on my projects. It’s also the best way to come back with new ideas, whether it’s for commissions or personal projects.
It shows once again the need to live these moments.

You must of course prepare your work for these days off.
In my case, I always make sure to prepare as much as possible in order to be stress-free (even if I’m never stress-free haha) when I come back: for example, I make and send the submissions for the open calls beforehand to avoid having to do them more quickly (and probably less well) when I come home. For my clients, I warn them in advance and I prepare the sessions as much as possible before my holidays so that I’m not in a rush when I return.
During my days off, even if it’s a bad idea for some people, I also read my emails and answer them immediately if it’s really urgent.
Usually it takes me no more than 5 minutes per day.
I repeat: I usually only leave for a few days (my last holidays lasted 5 days) and I leave at most twice a year, so time is counted and so is disconnection !
In any case, it’s always necessary to prepare in order to avoid stress (which would make the days you’ve just spent totally ineffective …)

Even if it’s easy to say, if you’re an artist and you sometimes allow yourself days off, don’t feel guilty. You work, you deserve a break and it will be beneficial when you’ll return to the professional world.

French visual artist

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