Friday, July 25, 2008

Do you still want this job?

We have a winner: Deborah Eileen Burrow will receive last week's paper painting!! Congratulations! Thanks again for every one's thoughtful and heartfelt comments.

I paint when I need to fill orders, for commissions, for exhibitions. I paint when I am involved in critique situations. As you know, sometimes, I paint when I hear the call at 3am. I paint when I have seen a wonderful film, read a good book, or received some new music. I paint because it is my passion, my purpose and because it is my job. My career. What does a career as an artist look like?

Here is a sampling of the tasks involved, because inquiring minds want to know.

1. Paint (or your art form here)
2. Name the paintings
3. Document the paintings with photography
4. Sign, date, add hanging wires, make paintings presentable and ready for a gallery or home
5. Pack and ship the paintings, or travel with them to reach their destinations
6. Promote art via:
postcards (must also design)
create a catalog or gallery book of available works
maintain a mailing list
keep up with my space/face book bulletins and comments
blog weekly
create word of mouth, attend other openings and shows and be "seen"
press releases- writing and submitting and keeping your press contacts up to date
going to gallery walk at the galleries that represent my work in the region
maintain an up to date website, pod casts, utilize new technology to stay connected
7. Research other galleries for possible representation or exhibition opportunities
8. Stay alert for random opportunities and be ready to act if one presents itself
9. Follow up sales with personal thank you cards to clients
10. Buy other artist's work and support the artists in the various communities I belong to, be a helpful resource.
11. Purchase and keep art supplies and office materials in stock
12. Keep all my business receipts for tax time. Report my income and do my taxes.
13. Handle all standard office duties related to my job as an artist
14. Keep up with the technology and websites that will be helpful to my career.
15. Maintain relationships with the galleries that represent my work, and keep them interested in me
16. Maintain relationships with clients who have purchased my work, and keep them interested in me
17. Keep up with the outside art world and trends.
18. Manage all this without a boss or co-workers, without a steady pay check, and without health insurance or benefits.

So, there you have it, I am sure I have left off of few of the tasks involved. No doubt in my mind that this is a valid job, that I mostly manage on my own. There are many different skills involved, and many different hats to wear. Skills such as strong communication, writing, networking, business, computing, performing, not to mention the painting!

Many of these things don't always feel like work, so I downplay them, but this job takes a huge amount of work and massive commitment. Dedication and drive must be involved to work in this field. No wonder I sometimes hit a wall and burn out for awhile.

I can't make this stuff up, this is what is involved in being an artist.
Do you still want this job?

I do!

This post is dedicated to all the artists, writers, musicians, and creative self employed workers out there and to the people who stick by them through thick and thin. This is also dedicated to all the traditionally employed workers out there who then come home to start their second job as an artist.

Pick up a copy of my book: Evidence of the Disappearance from
use coupon code istockphoto2008 for $7.00 off shipping charges through July 31st. The book is $24.95 before shipping, and I will receive $5.00 from each sale.
photo credit: Steven Heaton


  1. YEAH!!! I want and have this job for LIFE!!! Love it! Breathe it! Sleep it! (Yes I get ideas in dreams and in that most creative of times between sleep and wakefulness).
    My latest motto is LoveMusicLoveArtLoveLife
    Happy, happy, happy. Hard work pays off and the moment of a comment, review, or even the elusive sale more than makes up for each hard day.
    The universe rewards forward vision...
    Thanks Megan for sharing - and I'm soooo happy to win your fantastic art. :)

  2. Wow! Reading that list is both exhausting and invigorating. I love that "paint" is #1 and all the rest are what gets done after and around the painting. I'm so glad you answered the call.


  3. I'd love to do the creative stuff full time. NYC rents prevent that for me right now. Who knows...if my work ever gets popular enough I might be able to swing it! Your book is wonderful....I recommend it to all who don't have it yet!

  4. every point is both traumatic and inspirational, laborious and an essential nail hit on the head.

    there are plenty things that seem to try and prevent us from doing all of these points, but, we do them all the same, we are dedicated to this 'job' no matter.

    and just look at that book!!
    every coffee table deserves to have a copy..
    so get your order in now!!

  5. It seems to be a recurring theme in my discussions with you, and in this blog, that you wish to validate being an artist as a responsible career choice filled with the tediousness of every other career choice. I wish you would not do that to myself and the non artists of the world. You CREATE out of nothing whereas most of us simply build on top of what someone else has built. You are needed, you are appreciated, and if all you did each month was produce a single painting that took 2 hours to create, but was original, that is worthwhile. Even if you hired other people to promote you and do your taxes.

    Of course.....I could have read WAY too much into your blog as well....

    - Andy (yes, that one)

  6. i am thrilled to be starting my day off reading your blog with a cup of java in hand and a mind full of "Get up and go!"

    Thank you for sharing your list! It's so comforting and uplifting to know there are other artists in many corners of the world working this hard, with this much determination and passion for their art! I checked through each item on your list all the while my smile growing- my list is very similiar and for the first time in my artistic life i COULD check off most items with a "Yes i am doing that" I admire all of those artists that have gotten to that point and all that strive for it!

    Yes, i still want this job! I'm glad to see you do as well, keep the paint flyin!

    Best wishes to you Megan and in all that you do!

  7. Hey Everybody (Debs, Sandy, Susan, Steven, Andy and Amber) and all the others that have visited this post.

    Thank you all for the comments. Every time I post something, I get to think about the things I carry around in my head differently and your feedback really helps in the process.

    This is a passionate job and there is a delicate balance of skill, something like magic, expectations, drive, money and a pure energy that pushes me forward.It is an odd time in the world to be an artist, and it is also the best time to be an artist. Thanks again!

  8. It is an odd time. Someone said to me the other day that traditional painting was dead!! That provoked even more determination in me!!!!
    And even if others don't like it, being a successful artist is FULL of tediousness and is very long-winded. Paintings take hours and hours of time, and promotion takes 10 times as long. Thank God otherwise I'd be a unwashed, untidy, unsuccessful tramp who hides in a shed for a studio going quietly insane...

  9. Congradulations to the winner. Sorry I haven't been reading sending you comments lately. I hope you are having a great week.
    your friend

  10. i just posted about the whole "jack of all trades" thing and the desire to keep painting in the number one spot even though packaging and promotion bat their eyes!!! Not to mention 3 meals a day and laundry for five....but i wouldn't have it any other way! i found you through the fabulous michele maule and look forward to checking out you past and future posts.