The discussions of stress factors have emerged as a recurring theme throughout many of our interviews to date. It is a big issue that has the potential to spill over to affect our general wellbeing. So, for this week’s interview we decided to alter the format and simply ask a select, diverse group of arts professionals two questions about what they find stressful about working in the arts and what they do about it. We are immensely grateful for the shared insights and honesty. I have actually taken a few of these suggestions on board myself.

Interview by Eliza Muldoon 

helen garnerHelen Garner

A writer of both fiction and non-fiction including: Monkey Grip, The Children’s Bach, The Last Days of Chez Nous and Joe Cinque’s Consolation.

What do you think are the most stressful aspects of working in the arts?

Just doing the work. The technical and moral battles of doing it. Fighting lethargy and postponement.

Tolerating the responses of other people to what I have done. Getting up every morning to start again. Necessity for enormous stretches of being alone.

What have you done to reduce the impact of such stress on your own life and work?

Physical exercise. Friendship. Routines. Self-discipline. Dancing. Playing the ukulele. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Divorce. Accepting and being grateful for solitude.

louis pratt

Louis Pratt

A sculptor, film-maker and painter. Louis is represented by Iain Dawson gallery Sydney.

What do you think are the most stressful aspects of working in the arts?

I normally think/feel everything that is needed to be done other than making art can be stressful, the art making is the UN-stressing aspect of the work. So when I am making work – it is great, but it is the distractions such as paying bills and doing admin among other things that can be stressful. Though, that is very general on the stressful side.

What have you done to reduce the impact of such stress on your own life and work?

My personal strategies would be to simplify life – not to engage in lots of things and keep social engagements low. I should say that I do mediate everyday but not for managing stress.

I heard on the radio just today that Mozart wrote this amazing work at the age of 33 or so, and it was a light fill work without stress. But it is known that the very next day after finishing it he wrote to a friend begging for money…

Amanda Robins

Amanda Robins

An artist, academic and author of Slow Art: meditative process in drawing and painting.

What do you think are the most stressful aspects of working in the arts?

I think the most stressful aspects of working in the arts are the lack of security in income and the competitiveness. I also find the necessity to constantly network stressful as well as the continual spectre of rejection – no matter how high up the food chain you are.

Of course, working in a responsible academic position in the visual arts also has its own stresses, perhaps not that different to those who are in similar positions outside the arts field.

What have you done to reduce the impact of such stress on your own life and work?

I do find that physical exercise works for me and I know others for whom it has been helpful. Getting away from the city now and then (somewhere without mobile phone coverage!) and having supportive friendships outside the arts can be helpful, as is a supportive relationship.

Angela

Angela D’Alton

A curator, stylist and director on projects including: Leeloo.com.au, {twin set}, the ship song project and peppermint magazine.

What do you think are the most stressful aspects of working in the arts?

In Australia, it is probably the availability of work, the regularity of work, the salary of the work available, and the general things that go with the risk of choosing a creative career when you also need things like a roof over your head and food on your table. The other stuff is handling criticism, the self-doubt, being scared of the “haters”, and pushing through the days when you are feeling super, super lazy and completely uninspired.

What have you done to reduce the impact of such stress on your own life and work?

Removing the things that do not ring true in my heart from my life. Having family and friends that love and support me no matter how crazy or ridiculous my ideas might be. Ensuring I have regular creativity just for creativity’s sake. I do pilates, ballet, go dancing, walk my dog. Moving a little away from the rush of the city has given me time to ponder and appreciate. I have got to know myself over the years through a lot of work, trying a lot of different things and not being put off by people who think I cannot “stick at something”, tried a lot of different creative based things which gives you an new perspective and insight into the different processes required, learnt from my mistakes and always found a way.

caroline

Caroline Brazier

An actor with film, television and theatre credits including: Rake, Packed to the Rafters and the Bell Shakespeare Company.

What do you think are the most stressful aspects of working in the arts?

Both the rejection and the financial uncertainty are stressful, not being able to make plans, having your earning potential so intrinsically linked to your appearance and the scarcity of work.

What have you done to reduce the impact of such stress on your own life and work?

Learning gratitude for the opportunities that I do have, and have had.

Discipline; control where there is none!

Moderation in all things helps, as does daily exercise, talking and transcendental meditation (a recent addition – marvellous!) We have a place in the country, which makes much of the neuroses that comes with my profession feel a bit silly. Love, perspective and a well honed philosophical bent.

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