Even if you are #blessed enough to have a job that allows you to be creative, it’s pretty rare to get to explore all the ways you want to be innovative on a daily basis. Whether your passion is writing, drawing, photography or something else entirely, finding the time for creativity is tough when you’re stretched thin between a full-time job and trying to have a social life. For advice, we talked to Emily Beeson, a San Francisco-based artist who works full time at General Assembly and creates breathtaking murals in her off-hours.

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Getting Her Start

Beeson says she’s loved drawing and painting ever since she was a kid, but her passion for creating murals is relatively new. She was inspired to try it when she learned about Freespace, a warehouse that was going to be used as a pop-up art space. “I asked for a wall to mural, and it was given to me by a wonderful local community and urban innovation leader named Mike Zuckerman,” she tells us.

She ended up filling three walls in the space, which took her 200 hours total. “I muraled alongside other Bay Area artists including Michael Covington, who remains a close friend, and Emily Eisenhart. Michael and I went on to paint a mural together in SOMA a few months later, and we were featured in a documentary about it, called The Mural, produced by Free Range Puppies.”

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Balancing a Full-Time Job With Being an Artist

Beeson works full-time at General Assembly as a San Francisco Event Success Associate, ensuring that all of their events run smoothly. “We run events daily — there are frequently two events a day — so it’s an exhilarating role, and it also has provided me the opportunity to connect with others in the startup/entrepreneurial space in SF.”

While Beeson doesn’t hide the fact that finding time to pursue her creative passion is difficult, she gains so much from it: “I make time for my creative pursuits because they feed me from a soul-felt place and help me recharge for the hectic workday,” she says. “No two weeks look the same. I do not paint X hours per week and work X hours per week and see friends X hours per week.” She also embraces the creative moments in her job, relishing in drawing a company logo, for example. “If you are a creative person, it’s important to keep an eye out for ways you can be creative at work, even if they are small,” she says.

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Finding the Time and Space to Be Creative

If you are a maker, you know that being busy all the time can cause you to miss out on moments of inspiration. For this reason, Beeson builds time into her schedule just to be still. “I bike to a small cafe near my apartment every morning and chat with the owner while drinking a cafe cortado and sketching,” she says. “I enjoy this morning ritual and treat myself to a full hour at the cafe before starting my workday. This helps keep me centered.” Other ways she gives herself space: gardening, cooking and watercoloring after work. “And getting enough sleep — that’s important too.”

“Despite how busy you are, find time to feed your soul,” she advises. “It’s so frustrating to be creatively inclined and not have time to express that, so just make sure to express it, even if it’s just in little ways, like how you take notes during a meeting, or how you make your cappuccino. If you really want more time for art and creativity, carve out at least two to three hours a week for it.”

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Follow Your Passion 

Beeson says when you follow your passion, opportunities will no doubt manifest. “Since I began following my passion for art about two and a half years ago, a myriad of opportunities have opened up to me, and I’ve come into contact with so many like-minded creative souls. First, trust, then manifest. And of course, hustle. When opportunities come, seize them, even if the timing is terrible, i.e. you already have a lot on your plate that day. And finally, keep like-minded souls and believers close, and always carry a notebook.” To see more of her art, be sure to check out Besson’s website.

Are you balancing a full-time job and following creative pursuits on the side? How do you express yourself creatively? Share in the comments.

(Feature photo via Ernesto Cinquenove)