Building success as a visual artist, or author, musician, actor, screenwriter or in any field of creative endeavor as a matter of fact is never easy, but it is definitely not impossible. However, the starting out phase can be quite a hurdle, especially where money is concerned.
There are no hard-and-fast rules when paying for artistic work. That is why the creative profession does not follow in the earning path of other fields. Rarely is there a creative professional fortunate enough to land an entry-level position with regular income while still retaining their creative freedom. Yet, the struggling artists will still be burdened by living expenses before they can rely on their craft as a livelihood.
Identify Your Sources of Income
Jackie Battenfield, artist and author of The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love identifies three sources of income:
- Earned income – Any form of financial compensation for providing products and services; whether under employment, on contract or profits from a business.
- Unearned income – Interest from savings, capital gains from stocks and bonds, lottery winnings, fellowships, project or business grants, awards and cash prizes fall under this category. Like earned income, it is subject to taxes.
- Other Support – Financial support from a partner or spouse, friends, family and sponsors. These also include other goods, materials and services that can be obtained from donations, barters and exchanges.
Finding Odd Jobs
However you decide to provide for yourself, it would not be good to rely on a single source of income. “Precariously balancing yourself on one funding source…subjects your life and your art to the mercy of whatever happens to that resource.” says Battenfield, who also advices brainstorming on a list of possible income avenues, from seasonal odd jobs to small paying gigs. Also, consider other sources that do not include cash exchange. For example, a metal sculpture can get free materials from a blacksmith or mechanic who wants to get rid of unwanted metal scraps.
Options like part-time or temporary employment allows for time to hone one’s craft while keeping bills paid. The best time to find odd jobs is usually around holiday or festive season. This is the time where eateries, departmental stores and big companies are looking for extra help. So, know the perfect time to be browsing job search sites, classifieds and look out for the ‘Help Wanted’ sign around town.
Finding odd jobs within one’s creative field should be given some priority as well. Small commissions and work-for-hire jobs might not provide an impressive portfolio piece, but accepting such jobs does provide priceless exposure as well as opportunities for networking and self-promotion within the industry. Who knows? It just might lead to a bigger, career-defining project very soon.