Most artists, myself included, have needed to work at a day job to help pay the bills. With daily chores and tasks after work, there may be very little time left to devote to creating art.
Being an artist is certainly not a way to get rich quickly, though with a little work, art creation can provide a decent supplemental income – eventually leading to full time. Actually, very few artists take the leap from day jobs to full time artists – but it does happen.
Many artists I know work at jobs totally unrelated to art making during the week, and create art on the evenings and weekends. As for myself, I have worked as a logger, boat fibre glassing, labourer, fish plant worker, and more.
you: Types of Art Jobs and Art Careers 2012
I have been laid off from my my job as a fish plant worker – and have been out of the labour force for the past year. During this time, I have devoted my time to Artpromotivate and painting. But, just recently I have again found employment. I am now working at a temporary 9 week job, which will end in January of 2013. I am very thankful for this employment, as it will give my family much needed income during this Christmas season.
For the most part, labour intensive jobs are the only type of employment available in this area. Finding time for art creation has been a real struggle for me while working at these jobs. After long hours working, I feel too tired to concentrate on painting – or write. During the weekend, I have chores around the house to take care of. But, I have learned to manage my time effectively so that I always have a painting in progress at my easel – and I am still devoted to writing articles for Artpromotivate, most of which I can write on the weekends while I am not working.
So, this post is meant to share some lessons I have learned about working as a part-time artist and a full time artist – which should help you decide whether quitting a day-time job to become a full-time artist is a good idea for you.
- Being a full time artist does not mean that artists work all the time at painting, etc.
A large chunk of a full time artist’s time is devoted to finding exhibition opportunities, art promotion, packaging sold artworks, entering art competitions, tracking income, photography, attending art shows, and more. Part time artists, on the other hand, tend to be more focussed on the art creation, because the time often isn’t there for intensive promotions. Some may even rely on an art agent or gallery to promote art for them, who normally take a large amount of the profit.
- A day job can actually be an inspiration for artworks.
Art can be created from themes seen at work, or based on work skills. Using your workplace in this way, you will never be uninspired. Maybe you do not feel this way about the place you work. If you think your day job is boring and uninspiring, and do not want to think about it after you get home, try to see things there that will make good subjects for artworks.
At the fish-plant where I worked, my usual place was on a production line. I worked at the same monotonous job every single day - lifting pans of crab, capelin and mackerel. I must have handled millions of those fish. When I got home in the evenings, I did not want to think about fish at all. But, I found that the more I painted them, the more my workplace became a source of inspiration – thus a much more enjoyable place to be.
- If you want to work full time, be prepared to commercialize your art somewhat.
If you do art commissions, you will have to be very open to what the customer wants, and complete the artwork to their specifications (that is unless you do not want to do custom artworks). In order to sell art and make ends meet, you may have to find out what art collectors want, then create art based on those themes and styles. I know many artists who have two lines of work – one which is personal and uninfluenced by commercialism and the other which is specifically designed to sell.
- Managing your time
I have found that I can manage my time more effectively when I have less time. With a day job, the emphasis is on using time efficiently to create art.
When I am without that day job, I do get more done in regards to art creation, but distractions abound. My studio is at home, so household tasks many times take priority over my art.
Added to this is the fact that some people do not recognize being an artist as a job, and drop over unannounced or ask for favors because they think I have a lot of free time.
With working full time as an artist, you will find yourself spending a lot of time alone, creating art. If you are accustomed to conversing with others in a daytime job, this may be a major shift – not having anyone else around to talk to. Sharing studio space may be a great way to overcome this problem.
If you are in a position to quit your day job to become a full time artist, try to decide if it’s right for you by weaning your way into it. Consider freeing up 2-3 days a week at first, before making any hasty decisions. Part time employment may even work better for you than a full time day job.
What do you think? What do you think is better – working a full time day job, part time day job or as a full time artist? Can you share your experiences regarding any of those?