The day job/art career tango

The day job/art career tango

Blog | Finances
1 September 2023
by BSAA Team

BSAA can be a rehearsal space for you to perfect your steps.. Read along what Susan has to teach you, if you too have been struggling  to wear both shoes. 

I have observed a prevailing trend among individuals who are juggling the demands of an art career alongside a steady 9-5 job: a sense of embarrassment and shame. This topic frequently arises during mentoring sessions with my clients, as they grapple with the challenges of balancing their artistic aspirations with the need for financial stability.

Also, there seems to be a ridiculous stigma assumed by artists who are “only part-time”, as if they are not the real deal. 

For those embarking on a new career as a solo arts practitioner, it is often wise to maintain a reliable source of income until their art practice can consistently and sustainably generate enough earnings to fulfill their personal and professional needs. Let me share a story about Sydney, one of my clients, who exemplifies this situation.

During Sydney’s initial mentoring session with me, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the fact that she could only dedicate part-time hours to her artistic pursuits.

She yearned to be a full-time artist, considering it a mark of legitimacy and success. This longing reflected the prevalent but misguided assumption that being a “part-time” artist somehow diminishes one’s authenticity or commitment to the craft.

As Sydney shared her circumstances, it became clear that she had devised a brilliant solution. She worked one week in the office and one week in her studio, alternating between the two. I was genuinely impressed by her ingenuity and recognized the value of such an arrangement. In fact, I now use her story as an example to inspire others who find themselves in a similar dance between their day job and artistic aspirations.

By maintaining a steady income stream through her office job, Sydney could dedicate prolonged periods solely to her art practice. In any given 14-day cycle, she spent only five consecutive days in her office job, allowing her to immerse herself in the right-brain mindset necessary for a week of productive artistry.

This schedule proved to be an excellent approach for Sydney to delve deeply into her creative process without constant interruptions.

Additionally, Sydney’s painting style necessitated time away from her newly created pieces. Therefore, during her week in the office, she refrained from examining her previous week’s work in the studio. It was only upon returning to the studio that she revisited her creations from a fresh and objective perspective, enabling her to make informed artistic decisions.

Sydney’s experience, much like that of countless other artists, underscores the importance of acknowledging the journey from the starting to the finishing line. In the real world, unless one has unlimited resources, it often takes time to establish a reliable income solely from a creative enterprise. To make a full-time living from art, most seasoned practitioners recommend developing multiple income streams within the art practice, ensuring long-term sustainability and financial stability.

In conclusion, the path to a flourishing art career often involves navigating the delicate balance between a steady job and artistic pursuits. Rather than succumbing to the societal pressure of achieving instant success, it is essential to embrace a realistic approach that allows for personal growth, financial stability, and the space to nurture one’s artistic expression. Sydney’s story serves as a reminder that finding innovative solutions and adopting a patient mindset are key ingredients for long-term success in the realm of art.

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