The Balancing Act of The Freelance Artist: Bailey K Chapman

By Bailey K Chapman (@bailey_kakes)

Thoughts become things; this is true! Growing up, all I thought about was painting and playing drums. Now, not only am I doing those things daily, but I’m teaching too! Balancing work and play is not always the easiest task but when the line between the two becomes as blurred as it is in my daily routine, it makes life a little more manageable. Just the other day, after a full day of teaching art classes at Texas Woman’s University, I was dashing to the other University in town (UNT) for a live painting performance rehearsal with a local composer. Once I packed up my paints, I hopped in the car to jet down to Dallas to play a show with Pearl Earl. After the show was over, we made it back to Denton in time to attend a touring friend’s show. This sort of schedule is not uncommon for an artist. You must be a “Jill of all trades” to be a freelance artist. For my art and music career, I must assume the role of creator, manager, promoter, booker, and salesperson at any given time!

“Knowing that I was the only one responsible for my happiness made me realize that I had to immediately start molding my life into exactly what I wanted.”

I am grateful for my day job at the Woman’s College because I get to work with my hands, share what I enjoy, and it’s fulfilling seeing young women realize their potential as artists and people. It feels like I live a double life sometimes because many of my colleagues and students see me as a professional visual artist / professor (with my hair neatly pulled back) and have no idea that by night I am a grungy rocker (with my long hair flying) and spend a lot of time in bars and venues. Luckily, I am able to juggle touring and teaching pretty well, playing out of state shows and national tours between semesters and on holidays. During the school year, we simply keep a tighter radius and focus on writing and recording.

As a child, it seemed unfathomable to get to do all of the “fun” things I wanted to do and still earn a living. “When I grow up I want to be a musician” is usually met with the response – “well, that’s not a stable career, how are you going to make money?” But my parents taught me something very important when I was young, that I never forgot; people are in complete control of their realities. Everything around me, positive or negative, I manifested into my life. Knowing that I was the only one responsible for my happiness made me realize that I had to immediately start molding my life into exactly what I wanted.

“…I have to take every chance I get for reflection, introspection and meditation. “

Now, the hardest thing to find time for is my own personal painting practice. I have a home studio right next to our band practice space where I make the majority of my art, but these days I find myself spending more time collaging show posters, preparing demos for class, creating imagery for social media, or just straight up booking shows. But when I do have time to paint, I enjoy focusing on what brings me the most peace – the landscape. My art is always completely devoid of the figure. Probably because all day every day my life is filled with socialization, action, networking and noise! But when I sit in front of the canvas, it is my moment of Zen, and honestly, it’s my most comfortable, creative state. When I’m there, nobody expects anything of me, and I am making something purely for myself. This is how I feel when I’m in nature as well, which is probably why the natural world is my greatest inspiration and the source of most of my imagery. It’s a rare treat to be in the solitude of the wilderness and to paint alone with no distractions, but I have to take every chance I get for reflection, introspection and meditation.

Balance and moderation are important in all aspects of life, not just with work and play; but also with physical health, mental health, and personal beliefs. I’m no health nut – I’ve done horrible things to my body, especially when we’re on the road. But as I move into my late twenties, balancing out all the partying and sleep deprivation that comes with being a musician is important. The main thing that helps me stay focused is keeping a positive outlook and loving myself for who I am.

I believe that the things we think about are the things that manifest in our lives. With that in mind, we might as well stay focused on the things we want! Which also means, learning when to say “NO!” to something you don’t want or that doesn’t feel right. The more you know yourself and what’s good for you, the more you can quickly decide on what you need in your life.

As far as balancing visual art, teaching and the band, I just focus on the most urgent task at hand and keep a detailed calendar. Like my father always says, “When you bite off more than you can chew…start chewin’!”

Follow the band at @pearlearlmusic.

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