It is a truth universally acknowledged that a real artist cannot be in possession of a day job. Instead work at honing their craft.
All too often artists who work are not considered truly committed. The truth is as much as many artists may prefer to be full-timers, few of us have steady incomes or wealthy patrons (or parents). That said, I’ve always enjoyed being a part-time artist, as long as the work outside of my practice has advantages.
As I write this, I’m aware that I’m talking about what word best for me and the situation I’m in right now. Were I a more widely-selling artist with a studio outwith my home around other people, no doubt I’d feel a day job distracted me from my goals. But as things stand, paid work outside my art practice makes sense. And even contributes to my overall creativity.
A few weeks ago I applied for a job – and got it! And just the type of work that I’ve been interested in too. I’m not only happy about the additional income, I’m relieved because it will mean a change in the structure of my day. What’s more, it’ll be an additional boost fitness-wise since I’m planning on a daily ten-mile cycle there and back along the canal.
In the past, working from home meant spending all day alone. And so I’d start the morning at my local favourite cafe where I got to know staff and regulars. Mingling with other people energised me for the day, even if I just sat in my window seat watching the world go by. I found too much solitary time a lonely and uninspiring experience, though others thrive on it.
So despite the fact that I’ll have less time to create art, I’m looking forward to all the benefits my job will bring. And funnily enough, I think the biggest one will be that I’ll do more creative work.
Here are some reasons why being an artist with a job works out well for me.
WHY I THINK A DAY JOB IS GOOD FOR (SOME) ARTISTS
- LESS ISOLATION – I miss interaction with other people. Working alone sucks when you’re an extrovert. Similarly…
- DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE – I love meeting other artists, but am equally keen to cross paths with those in other professions. Many of whom have given me invaluable business tips.
- MAKING THE MOST OF CREATIVE TIME – In Japan I’d come home from work at 9.30pm then paint for till midnight. A co-worker of mine in London had a studio he’d head to after his 9-5. My other half works from 6am till early afternoon, then has the rest of the day for his art.
- MORE MONEY – Extra pennies mean new materials. And food, a few nice clothes, yoga classes and days out.
- OPPORTUNITIES – My manager suggested I hang my work on the stairwell and supplied the frames. Students saw them and I made several sales. Around the same time, a co-worker commissioned me to make her a stained glass window. Meanwhile, another colleague introduced me to the Lifeways Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, who now have some of my work at their wonderful premises.
- NEW SKILLS – At my teaching job, I trained students in presentations and networking language. Invaluable skills for artists on opening nights as well as hob-nobbing.
- BUSINESS FUNDS – If you do plan to go self-employed, a wee nest egg isn’t a bad thing. And saves borrowing from the bank.
- MEANS TO AN END – My teaching job in Japan allowed me to experience the country, helped me buy art materials and stage an exhibition. Additionally, I discovered chiyogami paper which I use in much of my work.
Are you a “part-time” artist? Let me know in the comments if a day job helps or hinders your art.