How do you balance helping others with growing your own career? Today I’m sitting down to talk with the multi-talented fine artist Kelly Sheppard Murray about time and life management. Kelly is one of those people who juggles several hats at the same time. She’s a full-time associate art professor at Wake Tech, a female artist entrepreneur at Three Bees Studio (a marketing and graphic design firm), and a studio artist at 204 Artspace in downtown Raleigh. Like Nash and I, she and her husband both work in the arts, chasing the dream of creating meaning in the community. She’s also someone I like and respect hanging out with.
Kelly works well in many mediums, but her primary passion is sculpture. She discovered her love of it in college. It’s nice to see that the things we love at 18 can still be loves as we become masters in our careers. My favorite pieces she makes currently are the bright and cheerful wall hangings, which are a mixture of metal and wax. Perfect for a kitchen or summer getaway, they make me smile. This is a light-hearted departure from her more serious work in nature conservancy studying trees. Frankly, I like looking at her work because it makes me happy, and the bright colors reflect her inner joy in life.
One thing I admire about Kelly is how organized she. I’ve observed that established, successful artists handle time very differently than those who are in the early stages of their careers. There’s an old quote by Stephen King, that amateurs wait to be inspired while professionals show up to work. Professional artists plan carefully, often booking almost a year in advance with different shows and events. They also seem to chunk their time, regularly devoting specific hours to, say, studio work or marketing or grant applications as a sign of respect and self-care. It’s not a perfect system, but it seems to help with getting stuff done if you break up the things you love to do and mix in the things you have to do.
I’m always fascinated by what gives artists staying power over the long haul. Time management may be one of the keys because most artists who produce daily accomplish this by setting aside studio time to WORK each day. They run circles around those who simply sit down to produce when the mood strikes them. Those artists who work into their 80s and 90s are doing what many of us secretly hope for: a long career playing the game they love best. Go into your studio, sit down, and get to work. Inspiration will come.
Artists who are just starting out have to learn time management in order to succeed. Without it, they will not treat themselves or those they collaborate with well. I have to admit that some days I do better at this than others, which is something Kelly and I talked about. It was really nice to sit down with her and talk honestly about what is and isn’t working in our careers. I was inspired to learn that she creates a piece of art every day.
Exchanging tricks and tips can be great for personal growth, which brings me to you: What are you doing to better manage your time and make room for the things you love?