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  1. #1
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    Work from home depression, advice please.

    All my life i have been a very happy person, but in February of this year i got my first job in games, A full time environmental / concept artist position working from home. The first couple months were everything i ever wanted, all day to myself, no interruptions and just art. I would wake up and work 8-12 hours straight on the work given to me, and on slower weeks id do allot of my own personal work.

    Now its been about 6 months and I just do not feel like my self anymore. I lay in bed in the morning usually sleeping till 1 or 2 pm and just feel uninspired all day. I still get excited about some of the work i do from time to time but for the most part things just feel dull. The thing i look forward to the most is going to the gym, but that is only every other day.

    Id just like to know if anyone has experienced this before, working from home and just feeling uninspired and down everyday. I would have never thought i could be unhappy doing to much art, but now i feel i am forcing it most the time....

    Thanks for any insights.


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  3. #2
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    Sounds like you need a change in routine, try something else to do in your spare time like drawing with your off-hand?

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    Make some time to hang out with friends from time to time.

    I'm in a similar situation and I share your disposition. I think these plateaus will occur at every stage of our career and it's just part of the job, because work is work.
    I think some of us young guys fantasize too much and develop unrealistic expectations of the work we have to do, especially in the early stage of our career.

    In the future you might want to take into account the duration of projects and take on shorter ones so you can get a wider variety of work.
    Last edited by HunterKiller_; July 17th, 2010 at 06:56 AM.

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  6. #4
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    been there, done that it's the repetition that drags you dowm mostly.

    found my way out of it by picking hobbies that almost have nothing to do with art and require me to leave my place. it also helped to redecorate my room once in a while, like moving the computer desk to the other side of the room and changing the posters on my wall.

    developing a disciplined approach to sleep patterns also helps.. go to bed whenever you like, but make sure you get up early every day at the same time to make sure you get as much daylight as possible, especially in winter.. early nightfalls can lead to some pretty serious depressions btw..

    another thing that has already been mentioned is to change the routines in our behaviour, like the things you do when you get up.. every few weeks, just dont get up, make some coffee, go to the bathroom brush you teeth, etc like you would normally do, but do some situps or have a quick walk around the block, brush your teeth later, or just go out and have breakfast at a place you like.

    to sum it up, routine leads to stagnation. changes in pacing and environment in your everyday life and any new outside influence will literally kickstart your motivation and creativity, since an artists inspiration tends to come from life and the natural chaos in it.

    hope that helped

    cheers,
    Etienne

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  8. #5
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    I've worked from home for about 3 years now, and I'd like to echo the suggestion for changing your routine. Though I do best on a strict schedule and a comfortable routine. Doesn't matter when you prefer (I do best on a fairly diurnal one) but stick to it. The routine lets me get into work mode better than leaving things looser. Get up the same time every day and set a time when you -will- start working, for instance.

    Make time to exercise and/or get out of the house at least once per day, even if it's a walk around the block or a trip to the store.

    Get dressed fully every morning before you sit down to work. At-home jobs are always advertised as "work in your underwear," but it's bad for productivity. The majority of at-home people I know do better if they go ahead and get ready for the day.

    Set an end-point for your work. If you're doing the thing where you allow work to drag on for the whole day and never do anything else, it gets demoralizing. Either set an accomplishment quota (when I get X done) or a limit on your hours. Take breaks, limited in time, and with specific goals. Don't eat at your desk.

    Make sure you have a hobby that'll stay a hobby and not turn into work. Even video games work, if you limit how long you get to play them.

    And, less positively, get used to the idea that there are just some days that are like pulling teeth. If your time to productivity level drops below a certain threshold, it's probably time to get up and go do something else for 15 minutes to an hour, but past that, you just have to put in the time and be happy when it's over.

    As always, your mileage may vary, but that's what keeps me from going crazy.

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    This is one of the many reasons I got married.

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  12. #7
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    a lot of good advice has been given in this thread but when I get into a rut I meditate for about 20 mins, It helps me so much and I don't know why, being secluded is always a tough thing so it's good to have friends that you can call up and chill with every now and then. Just don't let yourself get so depressed to the point of where you don't complete your work to the best of your ability.

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    Get a gf....

    Food for thought!!

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    I ran into a similar problem recently when I started studying and working on my own, outside of a structured school/work environment. My advice is a little bit different from what has been said here, but it has worked for me.

    Hunterkiller is absolutely right in saying that a lot of younger/newer artists have unrealistic expectations of what it's going to be like when we are finally getting paid to draw. We imagine that it's going to be this amazing experience where we just do what we love all day long. However, a lot of the time you are getting paid to apply a technical skill to a project that someone else has control over. Eventually you may get to design all of the fun, cool shit, but when you're starting out there's a pretty good chance that you're being employed to use your understanding of art to bring someone else's vision to life.

    It is really, really easy to get lost in the whole “inspiration” bit as an artist. You see it here on CA all the time. “How do you find inspiration?” Well... sometimes you just don't? Sometimes you just have a deadline coming up and you have to sit down and crank out work even when you're not inspired. If you can't do that, you're going to run into serious trouble. Very few employers are going to accept sub-par work or extend a deadline when you tell them, “I just couldn't get inspired.” Suck it up and learn to paint even when you don't have the Magical Muse Fairies filling your head with ideas. The same knowledge of perspective, color, anatomy, light, etc are all still there in your head. Learn to use them even when you're not “inspired” to.

    Simply put, it's a job. So start treating it like a job. Set an alarm in the morning and don't tell yourself, “I work from home, I can sleep an extra hour.” If you were working in a studio with other artists, you wouldn't stay in bed til one or two in the afternoon because you would have a boss expecting you to be there in the morning. You have to do that for yourself now, because nobody else is going to be kicking your ass to be responsible and do the work. Get up when your alarm goes off, get dressed, and start work.

    Also, don't work in bed. There has been plenty of research that shows that your mind links certain places to certain activities. If you work in bed a lot, your brain is no longer going to associate it exclusively with sleeping and chances are it's going to impact your sleep schedule. Even things like working and playing computer games at the same desk can derail productivity. Lately I've found it helpful to pack up my stuff in the morning and head to the library. I can sit there all day and study or work on freelance, without the distractions that I have at home. Look into setting up a separate room for work if you have one available, or even renting a small studio space if it's affordable where you live.

    It may suck, but the truth for most people I've met who have made it as artists is that eventually they come to realize that while it may be their dream job, it's still a job. Sometimes you're not going to want to paint the same half-naked warrior woman with the giant glowing sword with only “make it look badass” as your art direction, but you're going to have to do it anyways. It's better to form decent work habits now than to let yourself stagnate under the idea that this is always supposed to be fun and exciting and that you should always feel “inspired”.

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  16. #10
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    For goodness sake, get outside.

    I was doing a crazy schedule like that when I first started freelancing, working long hours and never leaving the apartment except to buy food and run errands, it totally messed me up. Now I try to work normal eight-hour days whenever I can, and I make sure I take a break for at least an hour every day to go outside and take a brisk walk. A daily walk invariably clears my head and reinvigorates me.

    Generally I like my daily schedule to be: work for four hours, take a walk for an hour, work another four hours, then dinner and some totally non-work-related diversion.

    I also have a lot of personal projects I can dip into when I need a break from work - usually things that are very different from my paying projects. And I try to get out and do fun non-work-related things periodically (going out dancing, or taking a day-trip somewhere, or hanging out at concerts, or going to museums, or whatever...) And I'll take time to read and browse artbooks and watch an occasional movie, too. You need variety in your life or you'll burn out. I always think of it as balancing input and output. If you just draw constantly without ever going out and absorbing the world around you and having different experiences, you'll mentally dry up. Setting aside some time for fresh input keeps your output fresh, too.

    Also, as has been said, the drawing you do for work won't always be "fun" - that's why it's work. You just have to knuckle down and do it, whether you're in the mood or not. Different people have different ways of motivating themselves to do their work. Breaking it down into a manageable schedule (with breaks) can help; especially if you have non-work activities to look forward to when you're done.

    Personally, my bed is my workstation and my schedule happens during whichever part of the day I'm awake, and this works for me, but a lot of people don't work well this way. So try the suggestions that other people are making here (set up a schedule and dedicated workspace, etc.) It may help.

    (Even with my haphazard schedule, I DO track my hours and try to make sure I do six-to-eight hours of productive work in every 24-hour period. This helps me keep track of my progress so I can make the deadline.)

    For me the biggest motivator is just knowing it has to get done by the deadline or I ain't getting paid.

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  18. #11
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    I work from home (in a non art job however) and know many who do.

    I also know many people who tried work from home who now don't. Some people really need a more social or more structured work environment.

    You might need to figure out if maybe this is an adjustable phase or do you need to try and get more jobs away from home.
    work that is at a company studio

  19. #12
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    Thanks for all the great advice. I feel like i might need to structure my routine better.

    I really appreciate you all sharing your experience on the matter.

  20. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by VirusArtist View Post
    been there, done that it's the repetition that drags you dowm mostly.

    found my way out of it by picking hobbies that almost have nothing to do with art and require me to leave my place. it also helped to redecorate my room once in a while, like moving the computer desk to the other side of the room and changing the posters on my wall.

    developing a disciplined approach to sleep patterns also helps.. go to bed whenever you like, but make sure you get up early every day at the same time to make sure you get as much daylight as possible, especially in winter.. early nightfalls can lead to some pretty serious depressions btw..

    another thing that has already been mentioned is to change the routines in our behaviour, like the things you do when you get up.. every few weeks, just dont get up, make some coffee, go to the bathroom brush you teeth, etc like you would normally do, but do some situps or have a quick walk around the block, brush your teeth later, or just go out and have breakfast at a place you like.

    to sum it up, routine leads to stagnation. changes in pacing and environment in your everyday life and any new outside influence will literally kickstart your motivation and creativity, since an artists inspiration tends to come from life and the natural chaos in it.

    hope that helped

    cheers,
    Etienne
    The first thing that popped into mind when I read the OP was something along these lines.

    I spend a lot of time at home when I'm not at work. I get mild bouts of depression from the settings not changing and being in a lock-step routine with little variance.

    One thing that helps me is when it gets really bad I realize I need to just shake up my routine a little, and get a change of scenery. Take a different bus to get to the subway station, take the bus home from work instead of taking the subway, change the things that are hanging on my wall, throw a splash of new color in your wardrobe. Just minor changes can make a big deal.

    One thing that I found that works, and had confirmed in some books I read about working from home, and articles about healthy sleep and home decoration is that you should try to have a healthy, clear-cut dividing line between the functions of each room in your house.

    If this room is for sleep, then it should 100% sleep oriented, and should have no elements of work that you can associate with that room. The same principle apply to other environments.

    One important thing that's already been mentioned though is you really must just get out of the house for at least an hour or so each day.

    I read an article stating that depression for home-workers is often related to a lack of direct sunlight. So just wandering around in the sunshine for 15or 20 minutes with no purpose but to wander around and absorb some rays. Naturally the longer you can do so the better.

    I also read an article recently linking current generation of youth's depression with non-physical non-face-to-face interaction. With the rise of modern tech people actually engage in face to face conversations less, go outside less and generally interact with the world less outside of the digital media that we now use. This gives people a lower tolerance for the common bullshit of daily life due to lack of experience (same as anything else, if you're less experienced with something you won't be able to do it as well) and that since somewhere between 70-75% of communication between humans is nonverbal the lack of this in digital communication often leads to small misinterpretations of peoples meanings and intentions which add small, but numerous bits of confusion and unhappiness to peoples lives. So while you're wandering around outside say hi to people, give them a smile and soak of all that extra non-verbal communication you were otherwise lacking.
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  22. #14
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    Yeah I've been working as a in-home freelance illustrator for over a year now, and here's my thing.

    You MUST have a schedule for sleep and STICK to it. Waking up at 1pm is NOT going to cut it. I used to be a notorious afternoon sleeper but now strictly wake up at 9am, eat and get to work. If you don't force yourself to get up at the right time on a regular basis, you're just going to keep waking up in the afternoon feeling subconsciously unmotivated, listless and depressed... trust me on this, I've been there, and I tried to blame my lack of drive on everything except the most obvious thing... that I didn't take my work seriously enough to treat it as a "9 to 5." Life is roses now that I'm on a strict sleep schedule.

    Second, you've got to get out of the house; being in the same environment, especially a home environment which tends to get messy, can drive you CRAZY. There are way too many distractions and the lines of work and play start to blur and you no longer can enjoy either fully.
    The best thing to do, I find, is schedule a work period outside of the house; I'll often work on brain storming, concepts and sketches outside of the home in the park or in a coffee shop, then return when it's time to bring in research and reference (from computers or books). I find this keep me from going batshit crazy.

    Lastly, open the window; fresh air is one of the most mentally stimulating things you can do for yourself. That, and buy some plants.

    Seriously though, hang in there!
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  24. #15
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    Work with someone by your side, it will make a huge difference You can meet up with a friend who also works from home and work with them, sometimes all you need is a little company to feel better

  25. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulverture View Post
    SI also read an article recently linking current generation of youth's depression with non-physical non-face-to-face interaction...
    Really good point about having interaction with people. Up until just awhile ago I had a long stretch with minimal contact with friends or people in general and it really wore me down.
    Now I'm meeting up with friends weekly to play DnD (don't hate me), and it gives me something to smile about.

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  27. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    For goodness sake, get outside.
    That's what windows are for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Listen View Post
    That's what windows are for.
    It's a lot easier to use the door.

  29. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    It's a lot easier to use the door.
    I really hope I maintain being that much of a smartass when I get older.

    And I mean that entirely as a genuine compliment.

  30. #20
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    I think it's important for my mental health to exercise at least a little every day. It gets the blood moving and releases all kinds of happy chemicals in your brain. Even if it's just a short jog, it helps a lot.

    A lot of people rent office space that they share with other freelancers. It's normal for people to have a hard time working out of their house everyday. It's especially hard if your workspace is in your bedroom.

    If you're really miserable, it's alright to look for another job.

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    Hello Aluvay!!!
    I just came across your post...
    Even though you work for 24 hours a day in home, you still can't get satisfied.
    Every person should need some entertainment or some diversion from their work, you need some one to chat about your work some jokes some laughs and more... if not the result is what you feel right now.

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    I'm not a working artist, but I hope to be one in the near future. I just want to say this thread is really helpful and one that I'll keep in mind once I'm at that point

    What little experience I have at 19 tells me that depression is just a part of life, and sometimes just accepting it as that makes it easier to work through. I would take the obvious advice about changing your routine to avoid stagnation and also acknowledge that you'll have peaks and troughs of satisfaction and depression throughout. That's not to say I wouldn't actively try to solve the sources of my depression, but just don't get too down when one thing doesn't work; just move onto something else I recently got into learning guitar and now I have another reason to wake up in the morning. Some other things I do when I'm down is find new uplifting music, remove the sad songs from my mp3 player for a while, and even just actively and neutrally think about the things that could have triggered my depression, so I can at least rationalize and push some perspective into my scenario.

    Just my two cents, hope they made sense

  33. #23
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    when ever I feel like that, I go paint/draw in the street. Which incidentaly is also good way to meet people, besides work at home doesn't mean you have to work at home .

    Do wild things, go places you wouldn't usually draw skateparks/schools/malls/forests/park... Gives you an excuse to look at the weather channel.
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    I got like that when i was in art school. I know it isn't an easy fix, it costs money, but if you can afford it, get a laptop.

    I got a laptop on a whim right at about the time when i was constantly getting burned out drawing on my computer in my dank, cold house. I already had a wacom tablet, so i started trying out different coffee shops and heading down there with my ipod, laptop, and wacom and drawing from there.

    Most of the time, i'd find a place in the corner where everyone on the planet wasn't looking over my shoulder, but it really helped me to just be around people. I wasn't necessarily talking to anyone, but being around other people moving around, talking etc. actually helped me focus and keep from getting the "studying at the computer" blues.

    From time to time, people would interrupt me and ask what i was drawing, ask why im drawing, etc. and it was usually a welcome break. Some days no one would ask, and thats no big deal but yeah point being, just being around people, even if its at a library on your laptop, can really help.

    I think people need to be around people, and if a person is cooped up in their house 24/7 in front of the computer, it's just natural to get a little depressed. Just try to develop habits that get you out, and get you around people. You dont even necessarily need to be talking to anyone but in my experiences, when i was going through similar troubles, just getting out helped.
    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
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    I found that by having a laptop I can get up and change my "office" anytime I want to. Even if it just means leaving the room to a comfy sofa or picking it all up and going down to starbucks. I have my dual monitor set up in my main work space but it feels kinda good to sit around people and draw. Meeting people this way is pretty easy. Surprising to see how many people have never seen a wacom before.
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    I'd get a dog if it wasn't for the law saying you have to pick up its crap in public places. It's something I agree with but what better way to spoil a good walk than stopping half way to scoop warm dog shit into a bag then stroll round with it like it's some kind of macabre fecal accessory?

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  38. #27
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    Ohhhh, not working in bed...or on it, that is a hard one to stop doing if you do it long enough! XD I have to MAKE myself work in another room, and if I know I'm working I need to set my alarm and go at it right after I'm done freshening up and eating.

    I've been told also to try dressing like I'm working outside the home, like in an office elsewhere. That way I don't feel like I'm going to fall back asleep and become unproductive.

    Oooh, schedule, too! >_< That's a definite big one!! Ohhh, I forget appointments, so I definitely need to make one, myself. I'll probably get back into Microsoft Outlook. Hee hee! But there is a day where I'll head out to the city so I can be out the house. Otherwise I need to get outside around my house for a little while and maybe exercise or sing some scales, since I can't drive or anything.

    Some of these ideas might also be useful...if someone didn't already say them. >_< I skimmed, I admit it, and found invaluable tidbits! Well, if they did, I agree!

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