I have found that taking a break, even from the joys of creating digital artwork, is invaluable. I still have yet to wrangle enough time out of every day to spend what I truly want to on designing and the various projects the studio has at the moment. However, stepping back to catch your breath is healthy and brings other rewards as well. Looking at a work in progress after a bit of a hiatus sometimes results in real benefits and allows for a more honest critiquing of the design (see the previous post entitled "2nd Time's a Charm... at least for now" for another story about this topic). The trick is to not be away for too long though, so that any rhythm in the design work is not lost. So how does one spend all the extra time gained from this venture? By joining a professional organization, of course!
After following some advice from a few classes I have taken recently, I looked into the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and obtained a membership. You can see my profile here. The biggest benefit is the potential contacts within the industry, including from a nearby, albeit a bit of a drive, local chapter. The perks do not stop there, and what I have read so far convinced me that becoming an official part of the graphic art community was worth the investment. Now, while joining a professional organization is not likely to occur every time a break away from designing is warranted, it worked out rather well this time.