Great Freelancing Article

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I read lots of different blogs, not just art based ones. Lately – probably because of starting this blog and writing the Artists Online Series – I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about blogging and business. Even though they’re often describing a different world to mine, I still find it interesting because I do a lot of this stuff too.

I’m always quite aware that artists are professionals. Sure, we often don’t get treated as though we are (“ooh, it must be lovely to be doing something creative all the time, I wish I could quit my job and sit around painting/writing/making pots all day”) but anyone who’s trying to establish themselves as an artist knows that it’s lots of hard work. We do a bunch of stuff that most people probably don’t think is very ‘arty’: answering email, talking with suppliers, checking proofs, designing flyers, writing press releases, sorting out our tax returns, writing proposals and invoicing people – the list is endless and guess what, it looks a whole lot like everyone else’s workday! The reality of being a professional artist is about a million miles away from most people’s romantic view of it, including, unfortunately, the vast majority of art students to whom daily life as an artist often comes as quite an unpleasant shock.

So I was very amused by this article by Fiaz Khan of NextBigLeap, that describes what it’s actually like to work for yourself. I was reading it and to my amusement suddenly noticed that I was constantly nodding my head in agreement. I think this should be mandatory reading in art colleges!

I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

14 thoughts on “Great Freelancing Article

  1. Thanks for the mention of my article. I think, despite the article having a web developer slant to it, it can be applied to anyone who works from home.

    As great as the life is, there is another side which we all have to face. Rough with the smooth ‘n’ all. :)

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  2. Thanks for the mention of my article. I think, despite the article having a web developer slant to it, it can be applied to anyone who works from home.

    As great as the life is, there is another side which we all have to face. Rough with the smooth ‘n’ all. :)

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  3. “As great as the life is, there is another side which we all have to face. Rough with the smooth ‘n’ all.”

    Definitely. I don’t know what it is about being an artist that leads people to expect that it’ll all be fun and games. Perhaps it’s because so many people do it as a hobby and imagine that doing it professionally will be the same sort of experience. But of course, it’s not the same at all, any more than playing football professionally is the same as kicking a ball around the park with your mates.

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  4. “As great as the life is, there is another side which we all have to face. Rough with the smooth ‘n’ all.”

    Definitely. I don’t know what it is about being an artist that leads people to expect that it’ll all be fun and games. Perhaps it’s because so many people do it as a hobby and imagine that doing it professionally will be the same sort of experience. But of course, it’s not the same at all, any more than playing football professionally is the same as kicking a ball around the park with your mates.

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  5. yes, i so agree! and maybe even worse when you are not technically a full-time professional artist/freelancer, but seen as doing your creative work on the side (heck, my 9-5 job is the side thing). it is aggravating when people think i have so much time in the world because they see that i have time to make art and/or update my blog. they forget that i *make* time for it on top of that 9-5 job. i don’t mind my current work situation but it bothers me when people assume that the time after the 9-5 job is disposable.

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  6. yes, i so agree! and maybe even worse when you are not technically a full-time professional artist/freelancer, but seen as doing your creative work on the side (heck, my 9-5 job is the side thing). it is aggravating when people think i have so much time in the world because they see that i have time to make art and/or update my blog. they forget that i *make* time for it on top of that 9-5 job. i don’t mind my current work situation but it bothers me when people assume that the time after the 9-5 job is disposable.

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  7. Oh I agree, redredday, that drives me nuts too. I don’t have a paid job at the moment because of health issues but I have done in the past and people would definitely fixate more on that than on my real work. As soon as people know that you ‘don’t make a proper living at it’, your art practice is often devalued in their eyes.

    Unfortunately the appalling or even non-existent pay structures in the artworld are yet another way in which artists aren’t treated as ‘real’ professionals. Hmmm, I’m thinking that when I’m done with the Artists Online Series, I might do a series about attitudes to money in the artworld.

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  8. Oh I agree, redredday, that drives me nuts too. I don’t have a paid job at the moment because of health issues but I have done in the past and people would definitely fixate more on that than on my real work. As soon as people know that you ‘don’t make a proper living at it’, your art practice is often devalued in their eyes.

    Unfortunately the appalling or even non-existent pay structures in the artworld are yet another way in which artists aren’t treated as ‘real’ professionals. Hmmm, I’m thinking that when I’m done with the Artists Online Series, I might do a series about attitudes to money in the artworld.

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  9. oh that would be a great topic on top of the Artists Online series. so true what you say about being devalued when you’re not making money from it. i guess it also has to do with how seriously you take yourself too so people could see what is important to you and respect what you’re doing with your time.

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  10. Interesting discussion. In the US, many colleges / universities require art students to take courses on the business of art for the very reasons you mention. I’m glad. I learned through the University of Hard Knocks. These courses go past the usual “how to write a resume” or “how to take decent slides of your work.” They get into the nuts and bolts, including taxes, how to set yourself up as a business, how to keep financial records, what to know about copyrights, etc. I was better prepared than many of my fellow students as most in my family are self employed.

    “In the Making” by Linda Weintraub is a great book on this subject. She interviews a range of artists to see how they go about making their work, promoting it, and even whether they have health insurance – a big problem in the US. It poses more questions than it answers, but I think that’s what makes being a self-employed person so interesting. There isn’t a formula, just different approaches.

    Yesterday I bumped into a former student from when I taught at a local university. Those who have graduated have for the most part stopped making art. The balance between earning a living and keeping a creative spirit alive and well kindled has proven to be too much. It wasn’t that they were ill prepared, but living the reality as an artist is a whole different prospect than thinking about it.

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  11. Interesting discussion. In the US, many colleges / universities require art students to take courses on the business of art for the very reasons you mention. I’m glad. I learned through the University of Hard Knocks. These courses go past the usual “how to write a resume” or “how to take decent slides of your work.” They get into the nuts and bolts, including taxes, how to set yourself up as a business, how to keep financial records, what to know about copyrights, etc. I was better prepared than many of my fellow students as most in my family are self employed.

    “In the Making” by Linda Weintraub is a great book on this subject. She interviews a range of artists to see how they go about making their work, promoting it, and even whether they have health insurance – a big problem in the US. It poses more questions than it answers, but I think that’s what makes being a self-employed person so interesting. There isn’t a formula, just different approaches.

    Yesterday I bumped into a former student from when I taught at a local university. Those who have graduated have for the most part stopped making art. The balance between earning a living and keeping a creative spirit alive and well kindled has proven to be too much. It wasn’t that they were ill prepared, but living the reality as an artist is a whole different prospect than thinking about it.

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  12. Lindsay wrote:

    “Interesting discussion. In the US, many colleges / universities require art students to take courses on the business of art for the very reasons you mention.”

    We did a little bit of this at college but in hindsight, there definitely wasn’t enough of that nuts and bolts practical stuff.

    “In the Making” by Linda Weintraub is a great book on this subject.”

    Ooh, I love that book. I got it out off the college library and read it from cover to cover but it was so good that I’ll probably buy a copy at some point.

    “Those who have graduated have for the most part stopped making art.”

    It’s sad, isn’t it. A lot of very talented people from my course seem to have pretty much given up on their art. It’s not that I think that everyone who does an art degree should be an artist – I know there’s a high attrition rate and there are plenty of other useful things that an art degree helps you do – but I was quite surprised at some of the people who quit.

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  13. Lindsay wrote:

    “Interesting discussion. In the US, many colleges / universities require art students to take courses on the business of art for the very reasons you mention.”

    We did a little bit of this at college but in hindsight, there definitely wasn’t enough of that nuts and bolts practical stuff.

    “In the Making” by Linda Weintraub is a great book on this subject.”

    Ooh, I love that book. I got it out off the college library and read it from cover to cover but it was so good that I’ll probably buy a copy at some point.

    “Those who have graduated have for the most part stopped making art.”

    It’s sad, isn’t it. A lot of very talented people from my course seem to have pretty much given up on their art. It’s not that I think that everyone who does an art degree should be an artist – I know there’s a high attrition rate and there are plenty of other useful things that an art degree helps you do – but I was quite surprised at some of the people who quit.

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  14. oh that would be a great topic on top of the Artists Online series. so true what you say about being devalued when you're not making money from it. i guess it also has to do with how seriously you take yourself too so people could see what is important to you and respect what you're doing with your time.

    [Reply]

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