Very often, while we’re building our creative careers, we have to find other ways of making money. We may fall into jobs we began in high school or college, developing additional skills and getting better positions. Computers have opened up a myriad of well-paying jobs that you don’t have to “take home” with you and that don’t carry the stresses of waiting tables. If the work is pleasant enough, pays enough, and doesn’t drain your creative energy, these are certainly viable options. But another possibility is to adapt your creative skills for the market.
Make a list of the skills and resources you’ve developed in and around your craft. How else can you apply these skills? Do they fit into an existing job, or can you create something new? If you have an entrepreneurial bent, you might want to start your own business. One actor I know who’s self-motivated and efficient set up his own “guy friday” business, doing errands for other people. Another started a service organizing and managing home moves and relocations for busy executives. Or get the Sunday classifieds and go through with a fine-tooth comb and some imagination to see where you could apply your skills.
How about a mailing service to send out pictures and resumes or press releases using databases you’ve developed for your own mailings? Or selling your mailing list on self-stick mailing labels? How about teaching kids or beginners what you know? Selling theatre books, art supplies or musical instruments in a retail store? Or turning a hobby into a job, like teaching tennis or skating, or working in the pro shop?
Or how about these …
- Artists: Portraits, Hand-made notecards, Commercial illustration or graphic design
- Writers: Write articles for a local newspaper or regional magazine, Write back cover copy for books, Edit other people’s writing
- Actors: Witness at mock trials in law schools, Record audiobooks, Coach executives on public speaking
- Singers: Supernumerary for operas, Lead singalongs at children’s parties, Church choir
- Dancers: Fitness trainer, Artist’s model, Social dance instructor
- Musicians: Play at weddings and private parties, Accompany singers or dance classes, Busker (street entertainer)
Taking other jobs may feel to you like a failure. But doing what you need to do to support yourself while you build your artistic career is smart. The suffering, starving artist image just doesn’t cut it anymore. Aside from the expense of your training and supplies, you deserve to be comfortable and creative. If you work it right, you can certainly have both.