Eight hours, no exceptions.
that depends! are you “unrealistic” by tumblr’s standards?:D
this is another one that i’ve been getting a lot (again mostly on tumblr) and i’ll try to answer it as honestly as possible. there’s a few things many people might not know that lie behind the “wall” of making it professionally.
1 batting average. i don’t know if this affects just me, but i imagine it’s somewhat widespread. working commercially is very different from producing personal pieces in one key aspect - you’re expected to deliver, and when a piece is going nowhere, you can’t just quit. the sketch is approved, you’re being paid and you have to finish the painting even if you don’t want to, aren’t feeling it, are sick or have other commitments. this leads to results that can be disappointing. you don’t see these because i don’t upload failed pieces. the main thing i’ve been working on in the past year has been to develop a workflow that allows me to deliver as reliably as possible. i’m happy to say that my dud rate has gone down strongly, actually since i’ve starting working on magic again i don’t think i’ve done a painting that i won’t be able to put in my portfolio. two years ago, my failure rate was embarassingly high.
2 speed. this is another thing that’s not visible to you, but economically it’s extremely important. i can finish (including planning and drawing) a complex painting in three to four days now no matter what. it used to vary wildly. again when you’re working commercially, reliability is key.
3 brushwork and edges. this might not be as flashy as the supersharp edges and the lighting that used to dominate my work, but i’ve spent a lot of time on this. i can’t say whether it’s actually improved my work or not, but it’s definitely gotten it closer to my personal taste.
4 life. i know how this sounds from the guy who used to be all about drawing all day, every day, but i’ve started doing other things. first of all at some point your health will politely ask you to start working out, taking away about 8 hours of your week. you’ll start eating better, cooking more fresh stuff, costing you maybe another 5 hours. i also play both handball and volleyball, both adding up to maybe 15 hours a week. then comes a point where you’ll want to have friends, read books, travel and explore other hobbies (i make a little bit of electro/house and play piano). and last but not least, and i apologize to the social justice control board of tumblr for this, but you’ll also want to talk to girls, who’ll be very much in favor of this, especially if you’re a well-shaped little seal like me. all these things are very much necessary because you’re a social creature and because you need to avoid career killing burnouts or health issues.
5 personal growth. maybe i’m more flawed here than others, but doing nothing but art for years and never interacting with people except online friends will leave you with a lot to catch up on in terms of social skills. this takes effort, nerve and time. i still believe that blasting through the 10,000 hours to go pro in three to four years is the best way to do it, as it allows you to be relatively young when reaching your main goal in life, but you’ll find yourself with a number of things to clean up in your character. ignore this at your own peril.
overall, all this accounts for a reduction of the time i spend on art from maybe 80 hours a week in 2011 to about 25-40 hours a week now, with much of the remainder being spent on the first three points i mentioned above. all of this is not to make excuses, but to give you an insight into why my (and maybe other professionals’) improvement rate slowed down visibly after a certain point in my career.
i’ve gotten this a lot of times (mostly on tumblr) and i can empathize with what you say but the honest truth here is this: what i do is paint and draw things that i think look nice. with women as with cars, trees, houses, seals and frogs, i will paint what i find attractive. i can only encourage you to accept it.