Eileen Suarez on art burnout

How has burnout affected you this year? 

Burnout this year has been mad strong — I’m not gonna lie to you. With the combination of having to apply for colleges and family stuff I have going on and all the work that’s been piled on top of me, I just feel like so burnout all the time. It’s so unfortunate. 


Have you experienced burnout like to this extent before ever? 

I think I have but it’s always been in the like creative way. As you know, I want to go to an art college so like whenever I do art for too long, I’ll get burnt out. But then it’s the combination of I have to do all this schoolwork I have to plan and prepare for college and going to an art college and these have to be working on my portfolio 24/7 And now with like the creative burnout, which I been can’t really deal with, because how much was get into college portfolio? It’s all a lot. 


And could you talk more about what the art college application process is like? 

It really depends on where you’re going. But so many schools like ask for a lot like I was thinking of applying to Cal Arts. They wanted a 10 minute video of me showing them a full sketchbook. They wanted 15 technical pieces, 15 conceptual pieces and 13 other random art pieces that show your personality. And then on top of that, depending on where you’re going to, they might ask you for a video either introducing yourself or a video of like you showing your animation skills or they’ll ask you for both. That’s hundreds of pieces.


How long have you known that you wanted to go to an art college?

I knew I wanted to do art for a living for a good minute, but it wasn’t until about this year that I was like, I am for sure getting into an art college and when I actually knew that I wanted to go to certain schools because I always had schools like CalArts and things like that in mind. But it’s always been a very like, loose. Oh yeah, I might go there one day. Now it’s a more concrete thing. 


How does creative burnout differ from academic burnout? 

Burnout from schoolwork is a lot easier to deal with. Especially because it’s like, I can just stop doing the homework and then I can easily just talk to my teachers. With creative burnout, it’s just me.


Do you have a specific anecdote about getting creatively burnt out? 

I think around middle school, there was just a certain period in my life that I just stopped drawing for, like a big, big, big, big amount of time. And even though the only time I would draw is like an art class and things like that, and a lot of people would be like, Wow, you’re so good. You should be like an artist or you think you should do art when you like, grow up. And it’s like, I don’t have it in me. My hands could move and I could do the art but I felt like no actual, like positive feelings because even when I have burnout, I still feel connections to art, but it’s just pure like frustration and pure anger not over not just about my own like inabilities and failures as an artist, but just at like the whole thing in general. It’s like I don’t want to be doing this. I’d rather just like lay down in a hole. 


What was like your career backup plan if you had any? 

I had a couple career backup plans. I wanted to be a fashion designer or a stylist. I also thought about being a florist but then this year, I basically sat down and was like, Alright, I need an actual concrete career choice. So I decided that I was going to be a bureau services mortician. 


How do you decide on that? 

I decided on it simply because I made a joke. It was like it’s the closest I can get to doing human taxidermy. And basically, I always just thought it was interesting and also it takes far less schoolwork. And usually you only have to go for like two maybe four years. That’s kind of nice. Also, it’s like an easy way to be in sort of the medical field without having to do all the medical stuff and I can sort of help people in that way. 


What methods do you use to recover from burnout? Or what are your tips for other people who might be burnt out?

Do things that you would enjoy. In general, most of my burnout would usually come from the fact that I would just work, work, work, work and never really take a break. So it’s like you should probably take breaks. Look at yourself, truthfully and be like, alright, am I doing this just because or am I doing this because I want to or is it really worth me staying up at 12 o’clock in the morning to finish this paper? Or could I just go and talk to my teacher?  


Final question — What do you notice about Ladue’s stress culture? 

I feel like there is a large stress culture. A lot of people work themselves to the point of exhaustion and break down. Especially  seniors because I’ve heard of a lot of seniors where they have senioritis but at the same time they’re so stressed out about college applications and all that. like my I’ve heard so many people like being like I have to retake my AC t score. I’ve been staying up like all night to do my homework.

I think stress is so much worse because of quarantine, the pandemic and Miss Rona. Junior year was such an odd thing and an odd experience for so many people, especially for me. The moment that we came back, everyone’s wearing a mask and we’re still in the pandemic. And then on top of that, we have to pretend like everything’s normal. It’s like, no, no, no, it’s still just as fine. I can still go to college and still do all these things and do all my work while like basically the world is kind of falling apart.