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Start boosting your productivity with advice from mega-artist Hubert Massey

 

Mint cofounder Hubert Massey talks to Mint artists in our studio. (Photo © Brendan Ross for Mint)

 

Hubert Massey creates massive public art pieces, like the fresco at TCF Center and large mosaics in parks and overpasses in Detroit, Flint and elsewhere.

Most of his projects take months to complete. Yet most of them start with ideas, and sketches. Massey, who is a co-founder and a board member of Mint Artists Guild, is staying home now, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down.  He’s creating smaller pieces – paintings, sketches and an obelisk prototype for a public art piece.

“I still don’t have enough time in the day,” he said. He runs Hubert Massey Murals, which brings together artists, engineers, community groups and businesses to create large public art projects. 

“I have the habit of getting up early in the morning,” Massey told Mint. He starts with breakfast and a smidgen of news. Then Massey turns on jazz music and turns to work on the creative project for the day. By 3 pm

This mosaic wall in Southwest Detroit was created by Mint cofounder Hubert Massey several years ago. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

many days, he’s finishing up and ready to take a walk.  

Developing such habits and a schedule help with productivity, Massey said. “Start at a certain time…. Schedule your work hours.”

Here’s three more tips from Hubert Massey on staying creative and productive:

Create a list. Artists need a projects list, where they capture the ideas they may want to pursue, he said.  His list includes painting portraits of some other well-known Detroit artists such as Michael Horner and home improvement projects. Keep your list updated and look online for ideas.

Set goals.   Know what you want to complete by the time everything is opened up and go after it. Or set smaller goals. Massey enjoys watching documentaries related to science and art, and suggests emerging artists watch one a day of an artist or musician.

Engage with others. Massey likes to hold community forums and ask questions and hear stories. Start this on your social media, or with a conference call with five or seven people. Ask questions such as “what are 10 images you want hanging on your wall?” he suggested. 

Don’t worry if your art supplies are thin or nonexistent. Use whatever you find around the home – newsprint or recycled materials or paint on old bowls. “If you’ve got a pencil, then draw,” Massey told Mint.

You have to be strong within yourself and do what makes you happy.”

Watch for more insights on creatives managing themselves and their work  in future posts.

© Vickie Elmer 2020 for Mint Artists Guildart

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Fly into creative activities during coronavirus shutdowns

 

If you are stranded without a school or university schedule, or staying home as a precaution against COVID-19, you may have been handed a gift of time. 

It may not feel that way now, with galleries and museums closed and friends far flung and everyone feeling off balance or afraid.  Yes, we need to practice social distancing, wash hands regularly and thoroughly and take other precautions outlined by the CDC and World Health Organization.

You and almost everyone else are missing out on a lot – art shows and plays, senior trips and so much more. And yet, this time could be when you create your first masterpiece that will hang in MOMA or appear on Netflix in a few years.

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will,” best-selling author Stephen King said. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

So let’s get past that- and start working on superb goals for the next two to three weeks. Here’s some creative ideas:

Paint and create. Create a friendly competition with another young artist to see who completes more work in the next two weeks. Work on several pieces at once, like artist Shirley Woodson.  Create work inspired by the world today, or imagine and create a better one.  “Write about some of your ideas for a better home, school, neighborhood or church. What’s missing? What could you add to or take away from the world you live in now? Draw or paint or create a collage or clay sculpture to represent your ideas,” suggested artist and educator Adwoa Muwzea in answer to my request for ideas on Facebook. 

Learn to cook. Your family may feel stressed because there’s no real routine. Or your grandma or mom may be worried about money, about work or other things. So offer to make dinner for 10 days and then come up with creative recipes – from your family history or culture or from a great collection of recipes online. Cookbooks work too, especially ones aimed at newcomers like these six, including The Starving Artist Cookbook . It was written by artist, illustrator and graphic designer Sara Zin.

Make money.  Yes, start a small business and stash some cash.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, who has worked myriad creative jobs including delivering tap dancing messages, suggested making, bottling and selling handmade hand sanitizer, because it is in short supply.  Or offer your services as a babysitter, dog walker, photographer, personal chef or organizer to neighbors and friends. Be thoughtful and cautious about this. Do something small and safe, and if you have questions about it, speak to parents or trusted advisors.

Create with your pet. Dedicate some of the extra time at home to your pet, my pal Pam Murray suggests.  “Write stories from the pets’ point of view. Illustrate or film the story from the pets’ point of view, which could be pretty amusing if you have a Corgi- nothing over knee level,” she wrote on Facebook.

Write a play – in a day.  Sometimes a short project gets creatives revved up and ready for more. This brilliant idea for a play writing competition for college students was shared by my friend, theater and events consultant Nick Rowley. And it will leave you with time for other creative work:

Catch up. Your room’s a mess and you are behind on AP Calculus. So set aside two to three days for each and work diligently, using the pomodoro method to catch up. (Set a timer for 25 to 35 minutes and ignore everything else while you work diligently on a task. Then take a short break and start again.) Some people may need to catch up on their sleep, too.  Go for that after you have finished cleaning your room.

For artists and writers who appreciate specific ideas or prompts, we recommend creating art or writing a story or poem around the theme Abuela, Grandma, Bibi or on Resilience.  (Mint is working with Hannan Center on an art and storytelling show focused on Abuela and resilience seems like it will be a worthwhile topic for this year.) 

If you need help being productive while working at home, Fast Company magazine has excellent advice. If you need help achieving your goals, read our seven tips and find an accountability partner – another artist or your sister.

The key is getting started – today – on a creative or entrepreneurial project.  If you want to share your work in progress, please post it by Wednesday at 5 pm EST on Instagram and tag us @mintartistsguild .

Come back on Wednesday morning for more ideas on making the most of the time at home, with some incredibly creative projects for young creatives.

Photo: Vojtěch Petr on Unsplash