Archives for posts with tag: stress


Nadine von Cohen is a Sydney-based lifestyle and pop culture writer, who regularly contributes to the Fairfax Digital online sources; The Vine for the arts and entertainment industry, and Daily Life for busy Australian women. She has also read short stories at Erotic Fan Fiction events and provides freelance services as a digital communications specialist. Nadine speaks with arts interview about the hurdles of being a freelance writer and how she copes with and manages stress.

Interview by Heather Jennings

What are the stresses of being a freelance writer?

 The most stressful aspect of being a freelancer is the uncertainty of income. There are times when a lot of work will be coming in with a decent amount of money, and other times when things are slower. For this reason I rarely say “No” to work, which can cause further stress if I have several deadlines on the same day or week, but I have to make it work.

I think one of the least obvious things about being a freelancer is that the job never ends. If I’m not writing then I am pitching new stories and ideas, and trying to make new contacts to ensure there will be enough work in the future. I rarely have sick days, because if I don’t work then I don’t get paid. Being a freelancer may seem as a more relaxed way of working in that you can sit at home watching TV and get out of bed at midday. However, this is far from the case for me, but having said that I chose this path myself and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you find that writing reduces or increases your stress levels?

Mostly, I found that my stress levels have been reduced since I’ve started writing full time. I worked in the corporate world – in advertising and marketing – for many years, and the pressure and pace were extremely stressful. So for me writing is a much calmer career, except of course, when I have multiple deadlines within a short period of time, or when I’m suffering from a writer’s block or a lack of inspiration.

What are some of your favourite procrastination methods?

Since I’ve started working from home my house has never been so clean! I have a rule about turning on the television or reading for pleasure before 6pm – so cleaning, going to the gym and online shopping are my main sources of procrastination.

What are the three things you would typically do to relax?

I wish my answers to this question were more original, but these are my top three things:

1. One of the great things about working from home is the ability to have a bath in the middle of the day. If I have anything to read for research I will often do so in the bathtub. It’s indulgent but cheaper than a massage.

2. I am also a big advocate of gentle exercise, such as yoga, pilates, or a long walk as a form of relaxation. However, if I am particularly stressed then a spin class or a run will help me unwind.

3. And the third thing is to spend some time with my nieces and my nephew. They’re all under seven years old, so it’s not exactly relaxing, but it’s hard to think about work when playing with them.

What advice do you give others when they are stressed?

I used to give too much of my energy to the “little things” and let the stress of work really get to me causing extreme anguish. But then some things happened in my life to make me realise that it’s not worth it. I want to be successful and respected for my work, and known as someone reliable and pleasant to work with, but I no longer wish to do this at the expense of my health or sanity. So my advice to people about stress is to step back and think about how important whatever they’re stressing over really is. If you’re saving lives then stress of course is a lot harder to cope with – but if not then try to keep calm and get through it all with grace.!/nadinevoncohen

anthony white

Anthony White is an international artist- Australian born and bred, now based in Paris. After graduating from the National Art School in 2003, White has exhibited widely in Europe and Australia and is held in significant private and public collections in Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA. Anthony talks to arts interview about his practice and the sometimes stresses of working as a full time artist.

Interview by Alex Bellemore

Can you tell us a bit about your practice and what you have been working on recently?

My practice is built around the sensuous nature of paint with an awareness of  surface. The paint itself has really been the subject, exploring physicality in order to find form.  The process now is becoming one of reduction and erasure. I’m interested in the idea of psychic automatism that the Surrealists were into. The idea of bridging the gap between the unconscious mind and the conscious one and how that relates to the integrity of the mark.

Currently I’m working on a body of work for exhibition in Hong Kong early next year at The Cat St Gallery, Hong Kong as well as a group show called Signal 8 during August in Hong Kong.

What do you think are the broad stress factors for artists?

I think the biggest stress is probably about time management, money and organisation. I think artists in general can have a hard time being responsive towards a deadline and finishing things. Questioning how much of that day job do you work and how much time in the studio tends to make you very, very busy. If your lucky enough to be making art fulltime then its difficult to get the work out there globally, without stretching yourself financially.

Can you tell us about when you first moved from Australia to Paris, what were the stress factors of moving and finding yourself in a new ‘art scene’?

Meeting people in the art world can be difficult with a language barrier. I have also hired a translator for special projects in the past, which helps a lot.

Do you have any specific coping mechanisms when you are stressed?

I find myself in nature a lot, that’s really important. Also I find doing something else totally unrelated for a while until you come up with the answer you need. Sometimes you need to forget about things. I also tend to write copious amounts of lists.

Do you find it difficult to balance your work and lifestyle?

Yes it’s incredibly difficult to find a balance, but I love what I do so it doesn’t really feel like work. I never turn off- I’m always thinking about art.

I think it’s energetic and exciting when something new develops in your art practice. The constant renewal of ideas is the stuff that makes your art alive and can encourage/nurture yourself as an artist when things get tough

What do you do to relax? Is it easy for you to ‘switch off’ from your practice to do this?

No it’s not easy to switch off at all. I find it difficult but I think it is important for creative renewal .In the past I was a professional chef and since I’ve been making art fulltime, I’m finding time to spend in the kitchen at home, making things that I wouldn’t normally have the time for. This lets me wind down a bit.

tomek archer

Photo: courtesy of Tomahawk Studios 

Having just recently returned from tour in Jakarta, Van She percussionist Tomek Archer is not only a musician but the award-winning creative director of Tomahawk Studios furniture design and practices as an architect for a commercial firm in Sydney. His signature furniture piece, The campfire table is now held in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Tomek talks to arts interview about working with others and stress.

 Interview by Lydia Bradshaw

What are the broad stress factors of being a musician on tour?

Well you put a lot of stress on your body, because you’re mostly sitting around waiting, really inactive. Then you have about an hour of really intense activity, and then that’s it. You probably drink too much, and are usually dehydrated, so it’s mainly a stress on your body. It’s more of a physical stress than a mental stress.

I suppose the only time things really would ever get stressful for musicians, or for anyone, is when you have difficulty focusing upon the present and what is straight in front of you. Stress is when you are worried about something that might happen or something you cannot help. So it’s pretty important when doing anything to be able to put all that aside.

How does working across different mediums affect your perception of stress and how would you describe its affect upon wellbeing?

I think of music and design more as being complimentary – as two halves of a whole. But it means that I am always working- one seems to always be the downtime from the other.  All of my breaks from design are on tour and all the down time from touring is filled with design. So it’s pretty rare to have a holiday that isn’t at all design or music related.

It’s common for people working in creative industries to have many projects all going on at once. How important is flexibility when you are working on a number of projects?

Flexibility is the ability to adapt, and sometimes it means that everyone around you who you work with is required to be a bit flexible as well. It can definitely put a strain on other people you’re working with. I have found that everyone I work with has been pretty flexible, other wise I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done.

What do you do to relax?

I’d like to say travelling, but every time I go travelling I’m working so it doesn’t really count. I haven’t been on a long holiday in a while. I’m not that good at sitting still for a very long time. I think it’s different for people who work primarily for money, but I guess I’ve designed a life for myself where I will probably never stop working. I’ll probably never retire. I like watching films. I like going to the snow. But, whatever I’m doing I always keep my eyes open as well. My brain doesn’t turn off. I should probably start meditating. I’m totally in control all the time- like Patrick Bateman.

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 D’Alton

A curator, stylist and director on projects including:, {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 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.