Artists’ Day Jobs – What’s Yours?

Before going to bed, I read a chapter or two of Julia Cameron’s Letters to a Young Artist.

I underlined this passage:

I don’t know where we got the idea that being a full-time artist meant no day job. Being an artist is a matter of consciousness. Having a day job doesn’t alter that. I have seen more artists damaged by unlimited time than limited time.

So, I started wondering what you are doing to supplement your art income. I asked the question on Facebook.

Here are the responses I received (with apologies to anyone I missed):

Julie Robertson Receptionist – boss lets her make art at her desk and gives her studio space.

Cathy Pierce Payne custom frame designer

Frances Vettergreen Visual Artist self-employed medical professional

Mark Scantling Heavy diesel mechanic

Ann Marie Scott Part-time at corporate law firm – great benefits

Caroline C. Blaker Web development – developing the designs of others

Suzanne Utaski Gibbs Full-time wife and mother as well as a part time art teacher

Alyson Champ Farmer

Ann Cook Interaction Designer

Joanne Vallee Brunelle Full-time owner/framer of gallery and frame shop

Creative Stash Graphic Designer

Sikiu Clay Designs Office manager, marketer, and more for husband’s house framing business

Heather Dakota Writer/Editor/Graphic Designer

Don Scott Store manager for a family-owned chain of camera stores.

Kelly Darke – Fine Art art therapist

Patt Scrivener Aifd Home stylist and floral designer

Fine Art By Vanessa Turner structural engineer

Christen Caudle Benat Stylist with Stella & Dot

Mantel Amey Case manager for kids with behavioral issues

Wendi McGowan Marketing Director at a mobile apps development company

Cindy Eley Cradler audiologist

Elizabeth Wocasek Library media technical assistant

Alexandra Gerull Mom

Sarah Snavely Part-time library director

Hollie Taylor Full time Mixed Media Ceramics teacher at local high school.

Lori Anne Boocks Director of Marketing & Communications full-time at a non-profit

Ashley Kiefer Coffee Bar Manager

Elissa Campbell Owns 2 part-time businesses: One as a bookbinder and the other as an online marketing/social media consultant

Theresa Rojas Graduate/Phd student in English. Teaches writing and Women’s Studies

Angeline Marie Martinez Nuclear analyst-program coordinator

Kelly Dombrowski Full time mom, caregiver, minister, graphic/webmaster

Judy Jacobs VP of a commercial real estate development company (part time)

Rachel Thadal Senior advisor (Performance management) at an health and social services center, Mom

Michelle Zacharias Language consultant: technical writer, translator, and teacher

David Bender Personal Trainer

What’s your day job?

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120 comments to Artists’ Day Jobs – What’s Yours?

  • I work as an administrative assistant to a wonderful female bishop of the United Methodist Church during the day and love it, but in my heart I know that I am truly an artist.

  • Part time ranch hand, part time church staff. The ranch inspires my paintings and the church lets me use my office there as a gallery to display them!

  • As a garden designer I get to create in three dimensions using the same design elements of strong shapes, color, interesting textures while building a peaceful environment which my customers can immerse themselves. Given a choice I will load up my backpack with painting gear and head for the hills to paint in the greater outdoors so it’s often a struggle between the everyday demands of landscaping and my real love. Still, I feel very lucky to have two creative outlets.

  • Full time high school art teacher. As much as it demands a great deal of my time, the enthusiasm of young artists can be inspiring. Their fresh look at an idea forces me to look at things differently as welll.

  • I’m a part-time therapist and addiction counselor. It uses the other side of my brain and gets me out of the studio, interacting with people other than artists. I miss having more time in the studio, but it does make the time there even more delicious!

  • Full time artist, one day a week I work as an adjunct at local college teaching Intro to Art.

  • I’m an artist! Each day I wake up and thank my lucky stars for everything, grab a coffee, love up my family and create new things.

    I do some speaking (that’s my BIG challenge, because I get quite nervous before an engagement), and sometimes I even get out of the studio and into other parts of the world to facilitate some cool sessions on leadership and arts process.

  • Front desk/office manager/bookkeeper for a community trail system. It has sharpened my business and marketing skills while connecting me to the public daily.

  • I am a full time administrative assistant at an elementary school, a family ranch hand, and a mom. I’m blessed with my life but wish there were more hours to the day. Maybe I should just get a little better at prioritizing. My horses and art are my down time. I can get lost in either.

  • cynthia stentz

    i am a psychotherapist, working 4 days a week.
    while i look forward to working less in coming years,
    i know that my work feeds my art.

  • Freelance website designer (esp. for other artists), graphic designer and technical illustrator. Just finished a new website for awesome painter Jennifer Balkan, which I’ve posted about and linked to from here: Worth checking out her excellent paintings.

    The freelance jobs support my art career so far, though I hope that won’t always be necessary. 🙂

  • My husband and I (along with a partner) own our own business, and work with detention centers across the state. Working from home can be as big a blessing as a curse, at times; but it has helped me make great strides in developing discipline. Like the fabled tortoise, I am slow and steady — I know that I will ‘get there’, it will just take me a little longer. I am so thankful for the vast stores of information available from those who have gone before — as well as from those who, despite our slower pace, travel the road I am on now. Don’t turn out the lights, we’ll be there in a bit 😉

  • Norma Nicks

    I am now a bus driver for a school system. I hope to work between routes on my art.

  • Edgar Ewing, american modernist, was a great art teacher, artist, and a very happy man. One of his mantras was to make money doing something else and make art you love.

  • Alex True

    My day job-night job-24/7 job is as pastor; I fill in with art whenever I can. Thank God the parsonage has room for a real studio.

  • I used to teach art, but now I work full time for my father’s company and will eventually take over for him. We sell industrial pumps and compressors; at the moment, I am selling pumps parts. It’s the furthest thing from art, but it pays well and will eventually provide a freedom to spend more time with my family and invest in my art career.

  • Work full time at he local hospital as a pharmacy tech., artist/owner of small art studio teaching oil painting workshops , volunteer art teacher at the local senior center once a week. My schedule keeps me pretty busy, but love what I do and hopefully will be able to do the art studio on a full time basis in the future!

  • Susie Monday

    Educational consultant, teacher (art and art ed), author. Whew. Best mind feed for the artist me is my work teaching Central American rural teachers skills for using art, design and making in/ for their schools.

  • Jack

    Meaning of creation: The act of creating. The fact or state of having been created. The act of investing with a new office or title.
    I can read these definitions in every dictionary, but I still can’t understand how to do this…
    See this blog, I think you’ll like it: Drawings Paintings Prints, this person shows the stages of the painting but I still don’t know how to use it so I ca use it at mine…
    Will come back for sure.

  • High School Art Teacher, full-time

  • I was a sales administrator at a real estate office until I moved to a new position within the company. Now my title is Business Development Administrator. Our department gets new vacation homes for weekly rentals. (I live in a resort area.) The new position is busier, so I’m more tired at night and don’t spend as much time on my art. But I like it better, and I will get back to my art.

  • My day job is a secretary in the Special Ed department of our local high school. I enjoy being around kids with disabilities. They inspire me to face challenges and keep moving forward.

  • I’m a freelance graphic designer and website designer (, fulfilling client needs for print, presentation (PowerPoint) and web design. I enjoy the flexibility that self-employment allows, and find time to paint when not at the computer.

  • Ruth J Jamieson

    Throughout my adult life my primary occupation has been mother to my four children. In addition I have done a fair bit of technical writing, teaching, tutoring and business management. I also owned, contributed to and operated a cooperative art shop for several years. Nursing my eldest daughter back to health has consumed much of the last eight years. Now it is time to focus on my art business again, and make it what I really want it to be.

  • bonnie jean woolger

    thank you all for doing this. It is so helpful to know that we all have found ways to be artist/something. I have been lucky most of my working life to have a job of some kind that did not conflict with my inner creative life that is who I am and what I make. The times I struggle are the times when the day job vs. art making gets out of balance.

  • Still more are posted on my FB page on this post:

    This is fascinating!

  • Marcia Scurfield

    I am an elementary art teacher and mostly make my own art at two studios at the Wichita Center for the Arts: printmaking (lithography) and pottery.

  • I’m a flight attendant for a major airline. Flying internationally I use the job to gather lots of reference photos from my travels, enter international art shows (where I can sometimes deliver my work in person saving on shipping costs), visit tons of museums in Europe, and have quite a bit off time off and flexibility in my job to devote to my art businesses. A lot of my portrait commission clients have been colleagues and I have been able to use my travel benefits to attend shows in other cities which I never would have been able to attend otherwise. Also, using my benefits I have been able to start a nonprofit painting children in developing countries. As much as I complain about the physical toll of the jetlag and sleep deprivation, plus hazards of the job, I have tried to make it work for my art goals as much as possible. That takes away some of the resentment of having to have a full time day job besides painting!

  • I am a part-time pediatric endocrinologist, retired from US Army (where I was a full time one of those). I take care of kids of all ages with diabetes, obesity, thyroid, bone, growth problems. I get a lot of ideas from my work, and am glad the part-time schedule affords me time to make art now. A blessed balance to my vocation.

  • My other job is as a Creative Soul Guide. I offer creative soul readings, astrology reports, a Creative Soul Circle, a Divine Feminine eClass and ebooks 🙂

  • I work part time as a office manager for a church. I do all the secretary duties as well as finances and payroll. However, the hours are flexible and this makes the studio time possible.

  • Lead MT (account manager), quality assurance and medical language specialist for a company back east, working at home. I also write part time for pay because I love to write essays and copy. Beginning a small home-based business with custom sewing, which is picking back up where I left off about 15 years ago as a costumer, dressmaker and tailor.

  • i’m an artist — a voice artist … voice talent … voiceoverist. i do voiceover. i am the disembodied voice for projects such as radio and tv commercials, web interactives, eLearning, telephone systems, documentary narration (my dream gigs), etc.

  • I have two other part time jobs. One is cooking in a senior citizens centre. The other is creative administration for a photography studio.

  • Besides being an artist, I sell vintage online. It supplements a bit, and I love doing it.

  • Illyrian Print Studio, Established in 2005 by tow albanian artist Luran Osmani and Shukrije Neziri Osmani. The artists produce work across almost every discipline including painting,printmaking (originaly), photography, sculpture and graphique desing with a high percentage of them working professionally.

  • I am a Certified Medical Illustrator. I work as a medical artist four days a week and have Fridays off to be in my studio. I can travel when I need to if I want to take a painting trip. With 52 Fridays off a year, plus national holidays and my three weeks vacation time I have almost three months a year I devote to painting.

  • Keisha

    I work part time as a Bakery Representative at a cool grocery. I teacher pottery classes off and on as well.

  • I am an animal communicator and am just launching a career as a life coach. I taught horsemanship for years, which is where I got my first portrait commissions. Please see my website,, to read more about my wonderful craziness. The only dream I have yet to fulfill is to write and publish books. BTW, there are so many interesting people who have responded to this question. Thanks to all for sharing.

  • Dan Thompson

    Nothing gets the creative juices going like knowing one either lives or “dies” by creating and selling their art.
    My theory is this: If one is not creating art full time and is living solely from their art income (and does not have a spouse or significant other providing a back-up secondary income), then a person will never create their best art and will remain a hobby artist.
    (Nothing wrong with having a hobby as creating art.)
    However, the pressure of succeeding by working full time as an artist brings out the best work in the artist.

  • Three years ago to save money I built my own carpeted display panels for art fairs, then things got worse, so last summer I wrote an e-manual for making your own panels to save over 60% and started marketing them on eBay, search for ernie$$$. I’m still doing it and artists all over the country are now my customer/friends. It’s been a big help while I build my inventory for when things get better.

  • learning the fine art of framing! Keeps me involved in art when i am not creating my own. also I volunteer at a local gallery.

  • Every Friday and Saturday, I sell my husband’s American-style bakery items in two different farmer’s markets in Costa Rica. Sometimes, while at market, he allows me to create a small painting of a neighbor’s fruit or vegetable stand. When I’m finished I give them the painting.

  • Jessica Sanders

    Drafter…I draw on a computer 🙂 Its fun!

  • I’m a coach and training consultant specialized in public speaking, stress management, assertiveness and creativity (although bizarrely creativity training in companies is the subject I find most difficult !). The day before yesterday, I met a woman who told me about a really interesting club she’s a member of. She told me her club regularly brings in speakers, and suggested I contact them to do a conference about painting in general or my painting, or whatever I wanted on the subject. I dismissed this immediately, thinking I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to talk about, and then stopped and thought about it. What a golden opportunity to use skills from the “day job” to feed the art career… So now I’m seriously contemplating it.

  • I run an HR group for a large nation-wide refining service company.

  • Land use consultant for wireless industry: I interpret zoning, building, environmental, planning and other regulations to see if a site is suitable for a wireless facility. I guess paralegal would be a fitting title. It is mentally intense stuff, since these codes and laws can be overlapping and mindbogglingly complex, but it does not intrude on my imagination since it is mentally demanding, but not creatively demanding. Thus, I am often ready to depict primitive skies and consciousness, wildly posed figures, fluorescent coloration and corrupted landscapes the second I log off work for the day. Cheers and happy holidays all.

  • […] Artists’ Day Jobs – What’s Yours? […]

  • I’m a machinist. Not mechanic, lol. I love production work because 1, I’m making something and 2 because of the repetition I am able to think about my art all day.

  • I work for the Athletics Department at Dartmouth College. It’s flexible, low-stress, and I’m able to knit on the job, which allows lots of new people to see and ask about my work. I love my day job! It’s nice to have some steady income, especially since my felt hats have a seasonal appeal.

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