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Old 09-16-2008, 07:31 AM
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BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Hi All,

On my blog, I keep seeing the same search engine keywords in my web stats time and time again...they are...

"best day jobs for artists"
"jobs for artists"
"best artist jobs"
etc etc

It seems there are lots and lots of people out there who want to know the answer to this question.

So...in your opinion what are the best day jobs for an artist?

- Something mind-numbingly dull that doesn't sap your creative energy?

- A job where you can combine your artistic talents with the job itself?

- or should a real artist never ever get a real job, instead preferring to turn into a skinny skeleton in a hovel (should success elude) rather than inhabit an office cubicle 9 to 5?

So people, lets help everyone who is out there looking for an ideal day job until they make it as an artist.

I'll start the list -

* Web Designer
Good because you get to be a bit creative and you sit down all day...which means it's a relief to stand at an easel later (from personal experience)

*Mail sorting room assistant
completely mindless - demands nothing - you sort mail then go home, no meetings, no reports to prepare...plenty of time to dream all day about the art you will make when you get home. (again from experience)

What are your recommendations for top day jobs for artists?
Add your suggestions and I'll combine them into a master list as a reference for everyone out there seeking an answer to this very important question.
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Old 09-16-2008, 08:10 AM
FelicityGrace FelicityGrace is offline
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I found a great book called Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd that discusses the pros and cons of different day jobs for the artist.

Personally, I'm one of those sad people that is absolutely hopeless at anything else so when I left school I got myself a mind numbingly boring office job and drew in the evenings (parents didn't want to fund art school). I'm also lucky in that I don't work now but I wouldn't mind teaching art, I found I loved teaching when I did it (relating to quiltmaking) for a short time.

In an ideal world I'd have a talent for maths and go into investment finance and avoid art like the plague!
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:25 AM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Find a job that reinforces your creative side. I have found that while working in the creative field not painting it creates in me the desire to do the painting even more.

Last week day job total hours: 33
Last week painting total hours: 41
Insane but I love it. On Saturday I got home at 11pm from a show, told my assistant I was planning to stay home lounging, watching football all day Sunday (have not seen an entire game since the Super Bowl). Got up at 6am and felt great, got in bed again at 10am and watched the Raiders game, fell asleep and re awoke at 12 noon. Watched the Raiders win (YES) took a shower and had to do what I love, have lunch with family / friends, then to the next love. Got to studio at 3pm and painted till 10:30pm. Monday up at 5am and it's Groundhog day.

Though the hazard is losing track of what day of the week it is...

...my creative adrenaline keeps me going, need to paint, must create, even at "day job". Love this life, and feeling blessed.
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:48 AM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Explorer, or playboy. I don't think job matters because if you've got the bug you'll do it anyway, but perhaps a broad life experience will help create broad art. The worst day job would be art critic. Hapless drunk is a bit better.

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Old 09-16-2008, 12:01 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I second the web designer part, especially since I now work at home doing freelance.

Also... hitman.

Think about it, you could launder your pay by listing them as private commissions, even pay taxes on them. If you are an artist, almost nobody really sees you on a regular basis anyway, so you can slip in and out of town with none the wiser. And the money's good, so you only have to take a few jobs a year leaving you lots of time to paint.

It does require a certain moral flexibility, but what job doesn't have a downside. :-)
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Old 09-16-2008, 01:25 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I agree with Jerry about job a creative job. I worked in a screen print embroidery shop for a little while and it really got me back into art for myself.
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Old 09-16-2008, 02:19 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Best day job for an artist? Artist.

I do part-time other bits sometimes (not day jobs) and like to dabble in web and print design but quite simple stuff, and general computer help and advice for artists (I go to their homes/studios and help them learn software, set up their internet, fix their printer, etc). I have in the past worked at a gallery as a part-time job, and also a bit of framing work. The gallery job was by far the most valuable experience I had and I would recommend it to anyone! Most of the contacts and experiences I have know all stem from a few years of that job, and an ongoing connection with the owner. Teaching or giving art lessons seems to be a popular option if you like that sort of thing.

Tina.
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Old 09-16-2008, 06:57 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I've been sitting in front of a computer for about 17 years and I am desperately trying to get away from it. I'm currently working in web design and development and I find that I'm drained, mentally and physically(my eyes in particular) after dealing with code all day. All of my creative juices are just used up. I think, unfortunately, part of it is burnout.

I'm currently seeking a career change to something that requires less brain power and the opportunity to interact with people more. Something that's not as solitary as sitting in a cube all day. For me painting is very solitary.
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:58 AM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Quote:
Originally Posted by RHoustonS
I've been sitting in front of a computer for about 17 years and I am desperately trying to get away from it. I'm currently working in web design and development and I find that I'm drained, mentally and physically(my eyes in particular) after dealing with code all day. All of my creative juices are just used up. I think, unfortunately, part of it is burnout.

I'm currently seeking a career change to something that requires less brain power and the opportunity to interact with people more. Something that's not as solitary as sitting in a cube all day. For me painting is very solitary.

Man I hope you don't work on our creative team!
Just kidding, man I hope you find a way outta your box.

(sorry about the jest)
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Old 09-17-2008, 12:16 PM
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Exclamation Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Quote:
Originally Posted by RHoustonS
I've been sitting in front of a computer for about 17 years and I am desperately trying to get away from it. I'm currently working in web design and development and I find that I'm drained, mentally and physically(my eyes in particular) after dealing with code all day. All of my creative juices are just used up. I think, unfortunately, part of it is burnout.

I'm currently seeking a career change to something that requires less brain power and the opportunity to interact with people more. Something that's not as solitary as sitting in a cube all day. For me painting is very solitary.

WOW.. do we work at the same place? Just kidding, but I completely understand what your saying. I wake up and I'm full of energy and ready to go paint and be creative. But instead I have to go sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer screen for 8 hours. By the time I get home, I'm lucky if I can put a small canvas on the easel and start thinking about a painting idea. I'm tired and drained and can only look forward to the weekend to devote some time to being creative.

I feel your pain.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:10 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

" ...in particular) after dealing with code all day. All of my creative juices are just used up. I think, unfortunately, part of it is burnout. "

Burnout yes. But I'd disagree with the comment that your creative juices are 'used up', and further I would put forth that they maybe have been underused and hidden in a cupboard. Let me explain...

My husband and I are both from artsy backgrounds and went into professional careers. Over the past 10 years we both were acute aware that the creativity we used to cherish had disappeared. For me I stopped being able to draw - it became intermittent and when I drew things they didn't turn out well and I couldn't figure out how to fix them. We were getting more miserable each year in general. I was trying to meditate (which I'm not great at) because I couldn't sleep a whole night through from the frantic chatter in my head. Now, I really think the creative losses were a huge part of all the problems because....

Last spring I signed up for an art class at my local art league. The first day she started me out with really basic exercises (Betty Edwards stuff that I'd done a bazillion times in my youth). I just did what I was told and went through the exercises and it was like a revelation! I've since re-read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and realized that what I was doing at work was SO left brained, the left brain had taken over. The meditation was like mini-access to my right side, but doing the Edwards exercises (pure contour drawing and upside-down drawing) is a better/faster/easier way for me to 'shift'. Within a few weeks I was sleeping all night - I hadn't done that in years. I could now 'see' why my art was so flat and horrible.. I had been messing up basic things and not even realizing it, drawing from the left brain! In essence, every day has been better since that first class and I shudder to think where I'd have gone if I hadn't done that (another miserable job and shopping/alcohol/coffee to get through each day).

So my point is just - if the words 'creativity used up' resonate with you maybe think a bit about what your work entails. If you are being forced into a left-brain mode all the time then
1. Get out of that line of work if you can,
2. Most of us can't so maybe try some right-brain exercises - get Edwards book and go through them. Take a class. Try meditation if that works for you (but if you're on these boards I'd try pure contour drawing).

Maybe it's all in there, held hostage, and just waiting to come out again! It was just such an eye opener to me, if it helps one other person crawl from the dark place where I was it's worth posting!

~~ Boots ~~
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:12 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

Quote:
Originally Posted by timelady
Best day job for an artist? Artist.

I do part-time other bits sometimes (not day jobs)
Tina.

Likewise, if I wanted a dayjob I wouldn't be an artist....
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:28 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I think the best job I have ever done was working with animals. I love animals as much as art and sometimes they are my art. Animals love you like know one ever will and they don't care if you are painting. I used to train dogs and horses and it was wonderful and I could paint every night.

Now, I have worked a mundane city job for ten years which is such high stress that when I came home I couldn't do anything. It took me hours to calm down enough to sleep. I have been on stress leave for 3 months now and the best three months of my life. Outside of the fact I am broke I am back doing art again and worried about the time I will go back to work.

I would now personally rather work in a creative field or even in an art store fondling the things I love.

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Old 09-17-2008, 02:33 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I am unemployed and looking. I come into the same catch-22 over and over. I need to make enough money to live on, and that is not possible doing simply a "part time job" in this area. Personally, I would love to make a living as an artist, but would have to make at least enough to live on. Right now, I am getting a web site, and a bunch of artworks photographed (hope you will make comments on my web design when I post the link jerrylipp--. )

I have an English degree, and am interested in going back to school to be a teacher; however, teacher's training requires a lengthy unpaid internship, which I cannot afford (having no money). I can't get student aid because I already have a degree, and I can't get a loan because my credit went south when I lost my job.

Boo hoo.

I would love to have a choice, actually. Too many times I have had to take a job because it was the only offer.

I agree that you should do a job that stokes your creative juices. The way that the brain works is that if it does not get stimulated, you loose dendrites, that web of nerve impulse connections. Jerry is right, when you are happily working at a job you love, you get more ideas and more energy. If you work in a horrible job where you are merely a rat on a treadmill, you actually begin to slow down. It only takes a few weeks for many parts of your functioning body to re-path itself to optimize the situation!!!

I think I would like to do photography. Like Wedding and possibly "boudoir" sexy/romantic stuff. That would be such a fun job. Teaching would be nice, but I would rather teach people who want to learn.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:43 PM
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Re: BEST DAY JOBS for Artists

I agree with timelady: the best day job for an artist is as an artist.

But if you have to do something else to pay the bills while still making art, I've found that the best jobs are those where you don't have to work overtime, or take work home with you--you do your work, leave at the end of your shift, and your time outside of work is completely your own.

Taking a job that fits with your personality, and doesn't leave you mentally and emotionally drained at the end of the day, helps too. For example, I'm an introvert, and while I can deal with people fairly well I'm not very good at dealing with people's emotional needs. So working in a bookstore is a fine job for me, but working as a caregiver in a nursing home is not.

I've worked at a lot of different jobs--restaurants, retail, as a housepainter, and even as a cake decorator. Each of them, in their own way, worked for me as an artist. Some provided inspiration during the course of the day (bookseller, working in a fabric store), while others were so low-stress and brainless that I could let my mind wander while doing the task at hand (prep cook, housepainter).

Some things can make an otherwise decent job unbearable, and sap my ability to create; when I worked as a gallery assistant, I had to drive in to work every day. I didn't much like the job anyway, but the long, hard commute was the thing that finally led me to quit. I was spending at least two hours a day in my car, in heavy traffic, and combined with the stress at work, I stopped making art entirely. I took a much lower-paying job, but it was only a 10-minute bus ride away (and not only did I start making art again, but I actually had more money because I wasn't paying the car expenses).

So I can't say there's a single perfect job, just jobs that make it easier to get through the day and still have energy left over to make art.
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