Working Remote: How to stay focused, inspired, and motivated

*This story was updated and edited for clarity and brevity by Joe Rubald on January 24, 2023.

Raul Ramos is an illustrator and concept artist who graduated from RMCAD in 2012. He’s been working for Dire Wolf Digital as a remote employee since 2015 working on several projects for clients including collectibles, paleontological reconstructions for museums, and educational apps. Having been in the remote field for more than five years, Ramos shares his experience and how he stays focused and creative in a non-traditional work environment. 

What are some of the benefits of working remotely?
The lack of a commute is incredible. I think we easily forget how much time we spend driving from place to place. I read that in the United States the average, one-way commute time is approximately 26 minutes. If you commute to a full-time job, five days a week, round trip this adds up to over 200 hours per year. That’s nine whole days spent sitting in your car. Needless to say, having all that time back to get additional work done is great. 

How do you manage time and prioritize (while in a remote environment)?
It’s important to stay flexible and communicate clearly with your clients about how much time you have and when time becomes available. Keep in mind it’s okay to tell a client that you are currently unavailable. One thing you don’t want to do is overcrowd your schedule. This can cause a lot of unneeded stress and potentially affect the quality of your work. I’ve found that my clients are very understanding about my schedule and are willing to wait or alter their schedules to allow me to work with them. 

What are some of the challenges faced in this environment? How do you overcome those?
One of the biggest challenges for me is learning when to stop working. Because working from home is so accessible, I can work on my projects at any time. It’s effortless to find myself working for long periods without breaks or any downtime. This is an easy way to burn out, which can lead to health problems. All of this can be easily avoided with regular breaks, a conscious effort to sit with good posture, and regular exercise and diet.

How do you practice creativity while being remote?
Since I’ve begun working from home, I’ve tried to expand my skill set as an artist. Lately, I have been focusing on the 3D side of things, including digital sculpting, 3D printing, molding, casting, making game-ready assets, rigging, texturing, animation, and a host of other things. I’m constantly coming up with projects, so I can earn a new workflow or tool. Pushing myself to learn these new skills has gotten me more freelance opportunities. I love when the things I originally started doing for fun actually become things I can begin to sustain myself with. It’s such a rewarding experience!

What tips do you have for our students who have recently transitioned to an online modality?
My suggestion for anyone who has just started to work remotely is to try and develop a schedule and maintain it as best you can. If you are used to getting up at a certain time to head to class, try to be consistent with that timeframe while you’re home. It can take a while to settle, but eventually, you will establish a rhythm that will help you focus on work when you need to.
Surround yourself with things that inspire you to be creative. Make your workspace someplace you look forward to going to every day. Personalize it and have fun. My workspace is full of my favorite books, action figures, collectibles, and art prints from friends, and other artists I look up to. I’ve selected the equipment I use very carefully to improve my productivity and promote healthy working habits.

To learn more about Raul Ramos and his work, visit his website.