Many people have a creative passion that they dream about using in a career: acting, writing, painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, or playing an instrument. Yet only a tiny percentage of them will pursue that dream.
And even a much tinier percentage will actually achieve it. And, out of those that achieve it, almost all of them will go through financial struggles on the way there. Since making it as an artist doesn’t come easily, the person has to come up with a way to support themselves financially and should have available time to chase their dream.
It may seem next to impossible, especially when you consider everything that’s involved in the chase: work on your art, make contacts, get your work seen, audition, send out mailings, etc. However, everyone who makes it, pulls it off and here are three types of jobs that lend themselves to the struggling artist:
Famed documentarian Michael Moore once entered the office of a New York City employment contractor and refused to leave in protest of their offering temporary jobs to job-seekers, claiming that they take away jobs from Americans looking for long-term work. Whether he’s in the right or not, you won’t find many struggling artists taking his side. Temporary services are a godsend for many artists who don’t want to commit to a long-term job that has nothing to do with their career pursuit.
Since many temps are artists, temp services tend to work with them when getting them jobs; the counselor will inquire about their current schedule, financial needs, and job length preference and will then work on getting them a job along those lines. Office work and manual labor are the two most common types of work temporary services offer, so usually an artist can find something that they are qualified for when taking the temporary route.
There’s the running joke in LA that every waiter is a wannabe actor, and that’s actually not far from the truth. Artists flock to restaurants who are hiring servers because of the flexibility and schedule that they offer. Most shifts as a server aren’t more than five hours, both day and night shifts are offered, and there is usually room to adjust one’s schedule each week, not to mention the ability to trade shifts with another server.
If an actor is rehearsing weekday evenings for a play, then working lunches and weekends as a server works out perfectly. If an actor needs mornings and afternoons free to audition, then dinner shifts are the answer. Just like temp services, the supervisors are aware that many of their employees are pursuing something else, so they’ll tend to work with them.
Working within the Industry
A great way to make contacts as an artist and gain some needed income is to take a non-creative job within the creative industry you’re pursuing. A dancer can look for office work at a ballet company, for instance. A painter can help organize and set up shows at an art gallery. An actor can answer phones at a talent agency. Such jobs can be especially easy to get if you tell the establishment that you’re willing to work for less money than what they’d pay the normal employee at that position.
Both sides benefit, because the artist is making much needed contacts, and the venue is saving money by paying you a modest salary. And, probably even more than a temporary service or restaurant, these employers will understand when it comes to any conflict that comes up between your work schedule with them and your artistic career pursuit.