Notes from a working artist: Amy Sullivan

Gallery kitty tolerating the wild artist in the background

A few days ago I met artist Amy Sullivan at a local dive for breakfast. In Statesville, North Carolina, about 45 minutes north of Charlotte.

It turns out Statesville is stately. Elegant older Southern homes of the brick species. Studded with trees coming to life after winter.

Amy’s a working artist, meaning she makes her living by her artistic wits. She’s not a Sunday dabbler. But she’s warm and natural, freely sharing insights gleaned on the creative path. Her native North Carolina inflections only accentuate her Southern charm. 

I love talking shop with creatives. How they make it happen in their lives. 

Every serious creative establishes routines. Those of you who work from home or aspire to work from home might appreciate hearing about key elements of her process.

Here’s what we talked about:

1. Amy goes to bed early-ish (10 pm)

2. So she can rise early. (5 am!)

Her energy is highest at the start the day, so she makes the most of it. Amy readily concedes this wouldn’t work for night owls.

The gist: It’s critical to know when you’re at your creative best, and then to schedule for it.

3. She gets the most out of herself when she works for an hour and then takes a break. And then goes back at it for another hour. Repeating throughout the day.

4. The tough part is remembering to take a break. The breaks keep her work fresh.

5. A nap is a necessary ingredient to her workday. 

Do the math above, she only gets 7 hours of sleep at night. Sleep studies demonstrate nappers are more productive in the afternoons than those who try to muddle through when they get drowsy.

6. She peters out by about 3 in the afternoon.

7. The biggest impediment to her creative work is letting non-work interfere during her most productive hours. An errand, a phone call taken, an interruption she a little too willingly participates in. 

She referenced Brian Rutenberg, who says, Don’t let a time thief into your studio!

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for a soul tonic via email, once or twice a month.

Want to be at your creative best? Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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