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How Long Can You Work at a Stretch?


Active Member
How long can you work without taking some kind of break? I've spent a good portion of the afternoon on the laptop working on stuff and...oy. If I don't get up and at least look around I completely spaz out. (Yes, I know for the sake of ergonomics it's good to take breaks but I've read many a story of pro artists spending many hours at a time on a project.) I love art and I love making art but it's kind of...taxing, not in a negative way but I do need to take a few moments to recharge as I work.


The Not-so-typical Swede.
It depends. Alot. If i get really into something i'm drawing i push through it no matter how much my neck tells me to stop! :D
But yeah. The best thing i've ever gotten myself is my computer chair. A huge leather armchair for that lazy-slope 'sithoweveryoudamnwellplease' times :)


Sex nuts and retard strong
5 minutes.

Arshes Nei

Masticates in Public
I take breaks.

I'm not an idiot that wants RSI and eye strain problems because of monitors.

I take breaks.

I'm not an idiot that thinks plowing through a painting for long hours is productive. I like to come back after those breaks and look at things with a fresh eye.

I take breaks.

I'm not an idiot that thinks it needs to make it some competition. Whether I worked on it 11 or 20 hours with breaks is really irrelevant.

I take breaks.

I'm not an idiot that doesn't realize that if I'm crunching on a deadline it's due to poor time management.


Son of a WHORE!
On a busy day, usually 5 and half hours is my maximum. Slow days, wearing comfortable shoes, I'd only really need to take one lunch break every eight hours or so. As far as the entire week goes, I'd like at least one day off, but I can work up to nine days until I start flipping my shit.

Edit: Shit. This is for painting and art. Never mind. Fuck.


I try to take a break every hour and a half or so, and get started immeadiately on a commish, at least for sketches. Not taking breaks is god damn stupid.


I am the Night
it really depends for me.. I have to be in a sort of mindset i normally get while listening to music, having a drink by me, and maybe talking with friends. I normally cant start a new project even if i want to if I'm getting tired either..

But if I'm really in the zone working on something and having fun.. I've gone quite a few hours, only breaking for the bathroom, and I then regret it because of my back since I'm hunched over the entire time either over a sketchbook or my drawing tablet.


Hit 'em right between the eyes
It depends. The last few weeks I've been going pretty hard due to my graduate project wrapping up and having a local con right after, so during the last two weeks of the project I did about 10-16 hours of work each day, and during the three days of the con where I ran an artist table I was drawing non-stop from 10am-7pm. On the first day of running the table I'd been drawing so much that my right arm actually starting getting sore, but that was due to fatigue from the day before.

With regards to what Arshes said about crunching for deadlines, sometimes it's just out of your control due to poor management from higher-ups, or laziness/incompetence from the rest of the team. I've read that almost every project has crunch time toward the last few weeks, either because they suddenly realize there is so much work to do and just start getting themselves in gear, or - as mentioned earlier - bad time management.

Just to give an example of this - the project initially was slated to have five short animations complete, split between three in the first half of semester and two in the second half. But because our supervisors never really enforced the mid-semester deadline for the first three, we ended up scrapping the last two and only finishing three for the final. The first animation was in post-production in week 13, when it was supposed to have been in post-production in week 7. So... sometimes things happen that you just can't control.

As for myself, sometimes I find it hard to concentrate and get started for the day. With the internet around and attention-sapping activities like FB, twitter, even checking these forums, I have a tendency to faff about for an hour or two before just saying "fuck Tora do some damn work". But once I get into gear it's easy to maintain the workflow. I also find I concentrate better when streaming, having an audience is a good way to help with keeping attention.


If I get caught up in something I can work at it for hours and hours without taking a break for anything. As in, wake up and go to my PC to check on something before getting breakfast and thinking "Oh I'll just tweak this line." and then it's night. But there's usually a physical penalty to pay, so I try to take breaks or I'll be useless the next day. In the end it's less productive to get caught up and more productive to plan your work and take regular breaks.


Too many times I get into my work. I forget everything else I need to do like eat, exercise, or use the bathroom and will sometimes hide my phone so I'm not pestered by friends trying to get me to act like a normal person. And sometimes I get so frustrated with a project that I will refuse to leave it alone until I'm satisfied. I hear that's not good, but I haven't had much problem with my stubborn ways.

If anything, when I have been looking at my screen for way too long, my legs are too anxious, and I can't think or focus, I angrily leave. Usually I go for a really long walk or head to the gym and exercise until I'm exhausted. That way my body is at rest, my mind is active, and nothing will get in my way of finishing my work!


R'hllor Coaster
Depends on how bad my fibromyalgia is that day. So 20 minutes - 2 hours before I have to take a break and rub down my arm.


50 Shades of Gay
I take breaks.


Sounds like freestyle poetry night.


When you're working as in salary-working sometimes you actually can't take breaks but that doesn't mean you shouldn't for your body's sake. It just means that you can't for your salary's sake, and you may be talked to about your work ethic, or even lectured about how to increase productivity by memorizing all the hotkeys of software X. In those contexts you can afford to take 15 minute breaks every 4 hours since that's the damn law, or you can pretend something's wrong with your project or that you are confused about an objective and get up and ask your boss or coworkers how to X while really you just don't want to fucking look at the screen anymore. Hurrrrr. The shitty part is that some of the bad time management is stuff you inherit from up on the higher end of the chain, like bosses who commit to too many contracts because they aren't the sorry mofos who have to produce a thing, or who delegate like retards because they have (an) office favorite(s) and at that point the quality of your time management on YOUR personal productivity level is just a factor of "On a scale of 'fucked' to 'thoroughly fucked', how fucked am I going to be?"

At home, I think that to approach it like you're studying (1 hour straight, 10 minute break. 1 hour straight, 10 minute break) is a good model if not for your body then at least for, like Arshes said, fresh perspectives.
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I take a lot of breaks-- albeit, short ones.

It's good to get away from the computer and the work-- take time to think about where it's going and what you'd like to do with it-- and of course, to take time for yourself.
I drink a lot of tea and water, so I'm constantly getting up to boil water and what not. The worst thing an artist can do, is to sit too long or stare at a bright screen for too long. It's harmful to your body and you'll burn out.

Thankfully, all my room mates are artists too-- so going out for fresh air and exercise at any time of day or night is common. We'll go down to the harbor, and I find the sea air is good for clearing out the clutter of the brain, as well as refreshing, before returning to work. I also play a round of l4d nearly everyday, which usually takes 40 mins or so. Not quite a break from the computer... but it's good stress relief.

Don't push yourself. Take care, as this profession/hobby can be taxing on the wrists, legs, eyes, and back, amongst other things.
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New Member
With no interruptions (family, school etc forcing me out), providing I don't have any urgent bodily functions, I could work all day from dawn until dusk, or all night from dusk until dawn, if I get into something. It's difficult to do that though, because family and school interrupt my day a lot. Usually with commissions and stuff though I am more distant and take shorter and more frequent breaks because I get bored, but sometimes I can lose a few hours on a commission where I'm not supposed to (damn). It's usually realism or really fun stuff that I get completely immersed in.
Hmm ...this is hard because Most of my good Ideas I get from walking around just thinking and or listening to music and , its very hard for me to sit down. I think I personaly can stay for about 2-3 hours before getting up and rethinking about about what I was doing.


Shadow of the Night
Depends on what I'm doing. If it's a very intricately detailed work, I need a break every few hours. If it's a quick doodle, I don't need one. It all usually depends on how my back, eyes, neck, and legs are feeling. Sometimes I just go and go without stopping, and other times I can't go for more than 2-4 hours. Like I said, it all depends on what I'm actually doing. :)


New Member
Depends on how much I like the piece I'm doing or how into it I am. The longest I remember working straight was 9 hours. Normally I go 3 or 4 hours, then get distracted and take breaks of varying lengths of time. I tend to just listen to music, bury myself in wires, and just work.


Sex nuts and retard strong
Some of you hardliners could probably make use of this: http://www.workrave.org/

"Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit. Please refer to the feature comparison for a complete list of features, and how the program performs with respect to other programs on the market. The program runs on GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows."

Best of all, its free.


Well-Known Member
If I could really draw well then it would actually take me a long time because I usually can't get anything right. :/ I did a self protrait of me for drawing and it took me weeks but of course I stopped going to class and such, but if I didn't then I would say 3 weeks (2 days a week)


Porno Cowboy
I have been known to work 12+ hours in a sitting because I am prone to obsessiveness over my work when I get really into it, as well as generally having some amount of difficulty getting into the mood for drawing/painting and knowing it'll be like shit if I'm not really up for it, so when I am, I don't want to derail myself. HOWEVER, I have had to learn to allow myself to fidget and at least get up every other hour or so in order to do this or that in lieu of taking a break, since besides the usual reasons, I also have scoliosis which means it's easy to tax my back overmuch and suffer several days of severe muscle spasms hence. Which are super not fun, particularly since they keep me bed ridden, and immobility is my least favorite thing. Enough to counter my need to keep working until I'm satisfied, which does say something.

I don't mind alarms very well but I will remember and follow a time table if I figure one in my head. Just most sudden noises make me angry or hurt my ears, so. I make do anyway. :V
Now a days my work schedule will be forced down to 10-12 hours in a day all told, and to spread the sittings over the course of days/weeks so that I can work on it with out exhausting myself or making myself burned out on that image, etc, ensuring also that it will be completed for real and more thought out. Often I only work 5-6 hours in a day, though. 10-12 is when I really want to keep going.


Lather, Rinz, Repeat
I work "constantly" for up to three or four hours at a time. I put constantly in quotations, though, because it's constantly interspersed with small rests for my hand, or a trip to the bathroom/coffee pot, or I take a small 5 minute or so break to just get up and walk around the house (or stay where I'm sitting and browse the web)


Being in art school I work 9-5 in the school studio 5 days a week, but the longest I go is 24 hours once a year for the 24 hour comic challenge to raise money for literacy.


New Member
If we don't count bathroom breaks... 20 hours (and by bathroom break I mean go to the bathroom and then immediately return to work...)
If we count bathroom breaks like that 12 hours was where I maxed out tattooing.... Granted for 12 hours of tattooing I make between $1500-2000 (which is all my bills for a month) Granted THAT has only happened twice in my two years of professional tattooing. Most of the time the client taps before then.

And after that I don't work and I go get a professional massage and do stretches for my wrist and arm and I soak in a hot tub for like 3 days and my idea of 'work' for those 3 days involve mixing up potato chip dip. lol