The Art of Holiday Survival

Every year I tell myself I’m going to be more ready. As an artist, the holiday season is so vital to my survival that I want to have it all ready. For many artists, more than half of the revenue we generate comes from sales in November and December—driven by art markets and gift sales for the holiday season. I know it’s important, but every year the universe seems to intervene that prevents me from really making the most of this season of opportunity.

Two years ago we’d just returned home from a two-month jaunt around the province in our van—to a large pile of ‘to do’ items in the studio. Last year I was neck-deep in renovations to turn a garage into a suitable home for some printing presses. This year, I was finally looking forward to coming into the holidays ready and fresh, and then in mid-August, I found out I was going to be spending the month of September and chunk of October painting the new mural. Even though the timing is not ideal, all of these have been great things and I’m learning to roll with it. As John Lennon said, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”.

And so it goes that here I am again—another November working long nights, holding the reigns of a dozen projects, packing and pricing prints, trying to keep it all on track through the market season, and it’s got me thinking about my life choices. Am I going to survive?

To the art buyers, I want to say that I am very grateful to all of you who chose handmade gifts this season. From the perspective of the artisan, even though it’s a lot of work getting it all together, I never feel like it’s a burden because of the joy I see when people find something unique and perfect for someone they love. That reaction is what we’re looking for, and it’s why we put in the work.

To the artists and makers, if you’re anything like me, your heart starts beating faster as you lay in bed at night thinking about all the things that have to happen. Let’s all take a collective breath and accept that this is how it is and forever will be for us. It won’t all get done, but we will get through it and we will be okay. It will be worth it and we’ll have a lot less art in our studios when it’s over.

The best thing about getting all the markets over with by early December is that when our family starts rolling in, or the snow starts piling up, and the packages start collecting around the tree, we can sit back and enjoy it. As such, I’ve created a list of things to do once the crazy has passed, and you have nothing in front of you but a glass of eggnog and a bowl of munchie mix. This list is designed for the artists’ downtime, but can just as easily be enjoyed by all the muggles in your life too, so drag a kid or a grandparent along into your downtime adventure.

Thank you all for another great year of talking about art, dreaming about art, meeting new artists, and making new art. Happy holidays to all and remember; we all have a little bit of artist in us, so keep your brush on the canvas.


  1. 1. Try something different! Tackle a new medium or go abstract.
  2. 2. Collaborate! Get together with another artist and brainstorm a project.
  3. 3. Get crafty. Make a paper chain or popcorn garland. Simple is fun.
  4. 4. Sparkles! Decorate a card with glitter and glue. This is very important.
  5. 5. Write a real letter to someone (with doodles in the margin). Mail it.
  6. 6. Recycled Materials Centrepiece: An important item for the modern dinner table.
  7. 7. Cruise Pinterest for holiday treats. Make art you can eat.
  8. 8. Have a nog and draw party with your friends.
  9. 9. Reinvent the game board from your favourite game, play it with family.
  10. 10. Get out of the studio. Take a break. Take a breath.