While there are some artists who are able to make a solid income from their work the majority of us are going to have to learn how to balance a day job with our creative passions. When you’re frustrated, read through this list to remind you why you still show up at your day job.
1. You have an MBA. Being an entrepreneur or full-time artist means you understand how to run a business and make a profit. If writing a business plan, opening bank accounts, strategizing marketing, and networking are things that don’t seem to interest you then stick to balancing your creative life and day job. If you think you’ll just figure it out, that’s a bad plan.
2. You never get sick. If you are health issues, find a consistent job that can give you insurance for health reasons. There are options for artists and health care but sometimes this can be very expensive. Not having health insurance should not be your option, plus it’s not legal. Take care of your health and you can stay on this planet longer to make more work.
3. You want to work your life away. Retirement, while we all look forward to it, without a 401k, Roth IRA, or 403B, or some other form of investing then you will probably work your entire life. Is this what you had in mind for the later years of your life? While working as an artist is something that many of us creatives doing until the day we die, a day job is probably not in the plan until that day also.
4. Your inner critic never makes a peep. At some point you are going to hit a creative lull or burn out, your inner critic may speak out and put doubts in your head. You also may wish to change your creative vision or idea. Do you have a plan for this time? Do you have savings ready or a strategy?
5. Your art will always be relevant. At some point what you are creating may not be “on trend” you may experience a decrease in exhibition acceptances, purchases in art, or more. We can’t plan recessions or when people slow down on purchasing luxuries including art.
6. You believe money doesn’t buy happiness. The belief that you can travel the world in a bohemian style and draw the rest of your life is false. This all costs money. You need finances to function in the world, while money doesn’t equal happiness it provides access to many opportunities including allowing you to purchase the necessities of life (and art supplies).
7. You can always make ends meet. Take a look at your current lifestyle. Can you sustain your home, vehicle and lifestyle with inconsistent income? You can only couch surf or travel alongside the Oceanside in a van for so long before things get tight money-wise.
8. You will always have something to sell. Opportunities to get your work out there don’t always mean making money. An opportunity can be the cover of a magazine, an artist talk, a mention on a popular blog, or some other recognition. These opportunities can market you and bring in some unplanned income but not always. Producing and selling work is an important facet of being an artist and with that in mind, you need a basis of marketing, product development, and an understanding of the flows of the market. Side note: Sticking your images on a mug when the selling gets tough to make an extra buck is not a great plan (and often times costs lots of money).
9. You know real artists don’t need a day job. Just in case you haven’t got the sense now by number 9…. many great creatives and artists have a day job. And in fact, if you ask some of your favorites local artists their day job may surprise you. This is the reality, not the starving artist. You can find happiness and balance with your job and your art. You can still be a professional artist (with a job).
10. You think quitting your job is an option. If you are unhappy with your current job role, consider switching companies or jobs. Quitting and becoming a full-time artist isn’t the only solution and is usually a failure if you haven’t planned this transition. Sometimes the day job just isn’t a good fit and that’s okay too! If the job is miserable, always put in your two weeks and leave on a good note so you have the ability to reach out for references.