My previous article called “Artist’s Support System” spurred some interesting comments. One thread in particular motivated me to write this article as a follow up. We talk about motivation a lot here at the Alliance, and for good reason, it’s why we do what we do.
Many folks in the creative industry live by the motto “Keep the day job”; as in earn money to support yourself while growing your true career. This is excellent advice while pursuing you career goal.
What I wanted to delve deeper into is Career VS. Job. My discussion with a reader got a bit murky because at this point in my life, my job IS my career and I use the terms as one in the same. So I’m here to clarify.
Quickly, I define a “job” as something you do to support yourself in school or make extra money. A career is something you do because you truly love it, AND make money to support yourself. Yes, yes, you go to a job, but hopefully a job in your chosen CAREER. So normally your job is your career and vice versa.
Let’s use this broad example: If I were to work a part-time “job” and invest say 20 hours a week in doing this job, I may make some money but not good money. Would the money help? Yes, but I’d lose that time as well to develop new career skills.
Now, if I were to take that 20 hours a weeks and work on getting commissions or selling my comic collections at comic stores or other type of networking, then I’d probably end up making more money. And more importantly, I’d be developing my career as well, which leads to even more money (hopefully).
But what we have here is the classic putting the cart before the horse. To take the time to develop a new career, you have to take away time from something. In most cases that’s personal time. A lot of people with families go to night school while working a full-time job to help start their new career.
The point being, we artists DO take the time to develop our new career and more than likely it takes time away from our family/personal life. So those closest to you are the ones who suffer the most, and THAT is what triggered my last article. Because a person going to night school is doing something more socially accepted and more importantly, understood.
But, an aspiring artist to spend that time drawing and building their skills, it can easily be misunderstood by those around you. “You’re just drawing silly pictures! Get a job!” Is a comment you may well hear, and that’s not entirely fair to us artists. As a “job” will get in the way of our new career. Confusing, so stay with me here!
Now, I’ve heard “successful” artists say that they would do anything to support their family; even shoveling poop, if it helped pay the bills. I agree, we sometimes have to do things we don’t want to do to achieve a greater goal. But would these artists gotten to where they are today by taking time out of their career to shovel poop? No, they would not. As a temporary stop gap measure, sure, but in the long run it takes perseverance, and perhaps sacrifice, to achieve your goals.
Again, no one is lucky, they earn it.
Now in my particular case, I am a freelancer. So, I can take the time that I would normally apply to getting new contracts/clients and apply it to my new career of being a comic artist.
I won’t get there any faster, but I’m able to split the time invested from my current career and my family. But I did earn less money at times. So in my case, it didn’t effect my family time while learning to draw again, but it made it hard to pay some bills. A risk I chose to take. But at some point my art career will have a greater impact. And that’s where I’m at now. I am investing more time as I am seeing more returns. Still small returns, but name one career that starts off at the top of the salary ladder? None. Again, I’m paying my dues and working up the ladder.
So in essence I have two full-time jobs. My first career and now my second career are demanding equal time. And every so often I make more money at doing my art then I do with my old career. It’s just not consistent yet.
So, that was the motivation for the Artist’s Support System. Anyone who seriously states “I want to do my comic full-time” will cross this murky point in their changing of careers and it will have an impact on their personal support system. I hope this helps motivate you to achieve your goal (dream) and puts it into perspective.
It is working for me, but at a cost. Only you can determine if it will work for you.