It may come as a total and complete surprise to hear this, but a career as an artist isn’t often going to pay the bills. For many, that’s okay. Art isn’t created to earn a living; art, in and of itself, is a living. If creative folks were only in it for the money we’d live in a pretty bland and colorless place.
Michele Carlson of KQED has a great piece up right now about how artists living in San Francisco are able to make ends meet despite residing in one of America’s least-affordable cities:
“Artists are resourceful. They employ great creativity and consideration in how they make a living, often equal to that which they bring to their artistic work. Many artists cobble together odd jobs or freelance work that offer flexible hours, though financial inconsistency is the blessing and curse of independence from a day job.”
This pragmatic approach is why, for example, so many actors double as waiters and similar positions that allow for stage sabbaticals. Carlson’s article also highlights visual artists who have worked as freelance graphic designers, a curator who sells items on eBay, and a poet who wakes up at 3 A.M. to focus her energy on writing before heading to her stress-free day job. The piece also goes in-depth at analyzing how artists have reacted to the shifting Bay Area scene as studios and galleries get supplanted as neighborhoods get more expensive. It’s well-worth a read.
The best advice for a dedicated artist looking for a day job is to find work that compliments your artistic skills and schedule. Look into freelancing. Poets and playwrights can sharpen their skills by taking technical writing gigs. Visual artists can parlay their creative skills into work as scenic painters or graphic designers.
Then again, there are those for whom art is an escape from the duties of life. For these folks, painting, crafting or writing for a living becomes a weight rather than an escape. Naturally, how an artist chooses to make a living comes down to personal preference, but it’s fascinating to see the wide range of occupations they take to make ends meet.
Read more at KQED Arts
Photo credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock