[Work really hard on developing your art work and skills. But also take a break! It will actually improve your art and your artistic eye.]
Artists are extremely motivated people. Well maybe not in the traditional sense of what you’re thinking motivation is. Maybe we don’t strive to climb a corporate ladder or max out our 401ks.
But Artists want to eat, breathe, and live their art. We, as Artists have a desire to learn new techniques, push ourselves to new limits, be motivated by peers, and generally improve in our art. Ideally that is wonderful and every Artist should strive and achieve this goal of being the absolute best Artist they can be. But that is not a realistic or healthy goal, even when first entering the field.
Starting out as a student or entry level Artist is extremely difficult. Not only is the act of obtaining a job hard, but also keeping the motivation, pace, and not burning out. At first glance, if you want 'X' then work, eat, and sleep 'X' so you’ll continually get better at that and be able to start getting paid to do 'X.' That’s a fine approach for students.
The risk that comes with that amount of immersion is massive burn out, becoming stagnated, and not having time to let your artistic ‘eye’ take a break. If you are in school, work, work, work, and take a day off once a month or something similar.
If you are working a day job and making art at night then do the same. Taking a day off once a month is ok. Even if it’s taking your significant other out on a date every week or two that is more than enough of a break.
Now please do not read this and think “this guy wrote a great piece for me to validate slacking off and not doing any art for 6 months.” That could not be further from the truth. You should stay focused and dedicated to your craft (game art, I imagine if you’re reading this). You should also have a balance to the process of becoming that great Artist you want to be.
Achieving that balance is the hardest part of this whole thing. I recommend for those of you that like schedules make one and stick to it. It sounds lame. But 8-10 hours of crunching polygons, textures, and animations gets you 2 hours of video game, movie, or significant other time.
Maybe that whole process is a bit rigid for you. Create a new project then take 2-4 days off and then rinse and repeat. That is the way I tend to work nowadays. Knee deep in 3D painting, sculpting, and modeling for a couple days, month, whatever the course of the piece or project takes.
After that take an appropriate (emphasis should be on appropriate) time off and relax for a bit. Taking 1/5 or 1/6 of the time you worked on the project off is another healthy approach.
Having this balance makes you a well-rounded person, better candidate for a job, and also prevents you from becoming burnt out. Which is when you’ve focused so long and so much on one task or set of tasks that you have trouble finding the drive to complete those tasks anymore.
That is something as an Artist pushing yourself and your art to the zenith of it’s potential should be avoided at all costs. You can relate it to being a runner and overtraining yourself so much that you get injured and cannot even compete.
Taking that time off also allows you to bring other influences into your art. Go to a theme park (if you’re near by) and try to not be inspired to want to make art with all the amazing set designs. Go see a movie and work in some of the places, concepts, and ideas from that movie into a future piece.
Taking that all-important break will motivate you in areas you were not previously thinking about. Incorporating a hobby into your art is another amazing motivating thing to do. If you like to skateboard on the weekends take a day and go to a skate park. Maybe take pictures of the park and make that your next project. It will force you to take time off to do some “research”.
Do you art push-ups, get your artistic abilities as maxed out as possible. Just don’t be afraid to relax every now and then. Thanks to the www.polycount.com community for the additional input. Please feel free to comment below on this.