When I graduated from my design degree, I was very disillusioned by the state of the industry that I was meant to work in. I was very burnout by the degree and the way it was taught, I was very dead creatively.
After a brief temporary design job (where they wanted me but had no vacancy for me) and the next job being a 4 hour lecture-a-day job, I quit and then settled into starting to teach martial arts as it was my coping mechanism during the course, I loved practicing it, (till well other things happened) so I thought I can try to teach it, and I will work on my art on the side as I do so.
I taught it for close to 3 years part-time, I was very good at it (even an adult student said I taught her better than the head coach), it paid off my degree loan, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do full-time for many reasons and then quit after I was treated unfairly and frankly, not properly compensated.
For those 3 years, I produced work/started this blog only in the 2nd year of those 3 years and found out after those 3 years of working in that job, I had nothing much to show for it in terms of what I wanted to actually do which is teach art/design/illustrate.
So, the purpose of this article is to warn and educate other artists who need a day-job what are some things to consider when taking up one.
#1: Make Sure Its Related Via Transferable Soft-skills
Teaching kids martial arts and design/art/storytelling have very little in common, you can argue you can have story ideas or some form of art idea from it but really that’s it.
You don’t have admin skills to manage your own art business, you don’t have organization skills applicable to art (just wrangling kids doesn’t help), you don’t have anything on the resume paper to really help you get anywhere.
Don’t do something so specialized that you cannot take anything from it and apply it to your art.
There’s no soft-skills to be had in what I did, you should make sure that what you do can help feed your actual passion.
Admin jobs for administrative work, how to email people and talk to them, business work how to do good business, etc. etc. The list goes on. Please do a job that gives you transferable soft skills.
#2: Make Sure It Doesn’t Tire You Out Physically (and mentally if possible)
I worked on weekdays, at mid-afternoon (kids have their enrichment classes after school), before that I would have a chuck of time in the morning before having to leave but because I was so tired all the time, I just napped it away, I didn’t/couldn’t use the time properly at all.
I also have the mindset problem of wanting to do everything after my day’s work and not before, and on weekdays the work doesn’t start till mid-afternoon so I felt like I could do nothing properly before work so I also just napped.
I napped before my work, I was still tired and drained after so I slept earlier than I wanted after work. On weekends, I have to do a 9-5 schedule. It was not consistent work and my schedule was always off in that sense.
Please do a job that doesn’t drain you till you cannot create your art when you get home.
Do a job that is consistent in schedule to put your body into a good rhythm,
Do a job that if closely related to what you want to do, (i.e day job is design, passion is illustration), that you don’t let it drain you mentally too much, in terms of the creativity process.
(This is one reason why some people actually take a completely different industry for their day job than their passion to keep it separated from each other.)
#3: Make Sure To Think About How The Job Can Support Your Art
This is a more broad thinking of point #1 and that is to make sure that whatever your day job does for you, the money is enough for your art, to further it, the skills learnt can be transferable to your art, etc. Think about these things carefully. Is the job’s environment good for you.
Maybe it can even be the networking your job can provide. Just be sure not to make the same mistakes as I have.
I got into a job, where the only employee was also my boss and employer, I had nobody else, it was nice at first, enriching kids’ lives that I got too comfortable too fast in it, I had to pay my uni loan, the kids counted on me, etc.
Till I got too comfortable to even think about quitting although it left me unable to work on my art properly.
Then it suddenly became too uncomfortable in a single day that I realize I couldn’t let myself work in that job any longer, and left without even securing other proper job. It was that bad.
Always have a backup plan, always be working on something else, always be pushing for a feasible alternative to what you have now, just in case.