Are you a “Real Artist” If You Have A Day Job?

Andy Warhol designed window displays for large department stores in Manhattan before finally getting his art career off the ground,

How do you define being a “successful artist”?

Many artists definition of success rest solely on being able to support themselves entirely from their artistic endeavors without having to do any other work to make ends meet.

However, is this a realistic view of success?

The majority of artists will, in reality, have other work too as part of the rich pattern of their everyday life.  Andy Warhol had a day job as a window display designer for large department stores in Manhattan before his art career success.

This, contrary to what some people say is NO BAD THING!

The truth is, successful artists often have lots of strings to their bow

Just because you have another job doesn’t mean you are not a “real ” or successful artist. In fact, working in other areas separate from your art can have distinct advantages…

    • Having a defined and confined time for you creative work can focus your art and make you achieve more in the shorter space of time that you have to work in. Faced with unlimited time it’s easy to take your eye off the ball and lose focus.
    • Our economy is changing In this new and shifting economic landscape, having multiple income streams is a very important survival strategy which will enable you to surf the uncertainties of the art market.
    • If you are combining raising a family with your art, you may not be able to spend 100% of your time creating but may be able to find a balance which works for you.
    • Your “day job” may provide inspiration which feeds into your art and helps to fire your creativity.

We really need to change and widen the definition of SUCCESS in the art world…

The down side…

As in all things there can be a down side…

The common problem with other strands of work, comes when the “day job” takes over and hurts your creative energy leaving you too tired to do anything else.

Many years ago, when I worked in advertising agencies, my job was pretty creative but I was expected to start at 8am and leave at 8pm or later – After a sweaty commute on a crowded subway train I had barely enough energy left to eat, let alone create. Life was pared down to a bleak cycle of getup-commute-work-commute-eat-sleep. In that situation it is really easy to make yourself ill by trying to draw out more energy than is “in the bank”

Like everything, it is important to find the balance between work and art which is sustainable and right for you. This can take a long time to get right.

If you are struggling with this balance at the moment, keep taking small steps to getting yourself into the right situation and position. Don’t give up. Creating may be difficult at the moment but if you keep fighting for it you will get there in the end…


About Gary Bolyer Fine Art

I am a New York City-based landscape artist.
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4 Responses to Are you a “Real Artist” If You Have A Day Job?

  1. Wow… what a great and inspirational article! i’m so glad I stumbled across this. These words perfectly express the many torn feelings I have about art and the business/work field. So, thank you so much for saying what has been tormenting me for some time now. It is so difficult to find the perfect balance but these words are great motivation for me to work at finding that balance; And you are right, you can’t put energy into art if you don’t have that energy to spare. Thank you so much for a wonderful post!

  2. Sonsoles Fine Art says:

    Gary, good topic, I also am an artist and I do have a day job. I could not do it without. You are so right about the balance issue. I am actually a scientist, working on cancer research by day, and an artist “by night”… and have never been happier. I feel my life has a beautiful balance now, and I feel truly fulfilled. However, the lack of time for painting is what I crave most. Painting is my life and I love it more every day. My dream is to be able to paint full time… some day!

    • Thanks for your comments. You say that your life has a beautiful balance and so that is a great first step. It seems to me you have a great deal of happiness right now with creating your art. Keep it up. Let us know what progress you are making. Thanks again.

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