It is far from a secret that most artists need side jobs or second careers, but they can be hard to fit into life around an art practice. Many hiring managers realize this, and seem reluctant to hire a person who is also an artist. I have seen many interviewers’ faces fall when I say I write novels and run and arts website, no doubt picturing all of the things that will go wrong for them once I’m on their staff. Most of these things are not likely to happen…
The artist you hired is not going to quit as soon as they produce a work.
One of the biggest fears employers have is that if they hire an artist, that person is going to quit as soon as they produce a novel, album, series of paintings, poetry collection, or comedy routine. The truth is, most artists do not make enough money to just walk out on second jobs or side gigs. I would have to sell at least 12,000 copies of my novels to be able to quit side jobs and devote all of my work time to the arts for a single year. So far this year, I have sold about five books.
You will not walk in to find the artist ignoring your business and working on their art.
Most of us need our side jobs, and take them seriously. We might get ideas for our art work as we work for you, but we are not going to drop everything to go produce a work, or even to write them down. I keep a notebook and pen in my purse, which I keep in the break or employee area when I work offline. If I get an idea while I’m working, I wait until my break to back and write it down. Even if I wish I could be writing, I understand that your customers have things they need to get to as well, and do not have time to stand there for fifteen minutes and wait for me to finish taking notes before I help them.
We are not all flaky or irresponsible toward other work or other people.
Many may remember the 2003 film “School of Rock” starring Jack Black. It’s a cute movie about a musician teaching kids from an overly strict school to love rock music. The main character, played by Black, is also a familiar stereotype of musicians and other artists. He’s hardworking when it comes to his music, and completely lazy and immature when it comes to everything else, showing up hungover to jobs, getting fired for sleeping all day, and generally being incompetent to do anything but play his music.
Anyone in any field can be a bad employee, but most of us are not going to stay up all night writing or playing or painting and risk the job we count on to pay for the apartment we need to write or paint or play in. The artist you hire is no less likely to blow off the job you hire them to do than anyone else.
Artists are not necessarily wild or self-indulgent.
When you see a famous actor or musician succumb to drug abuse and/or addiction, that is fueled not by their involvement in the arts, but by their wealth. They have millions of dollars and a staff whose livelihoods depend on never telling them anything they don’t want to hear or refusing them anything.
I know one artist who does take off and travel the country on a whim, leaving jobs behind. This person also leaves their art work behind. I know more artists who are responsible parents, caretakers for other family members, and employees. Some indulge in various forms of partying. Others do not. My time before and after work typically consists of working on this web site, working on a novel, cleaning my apartment, watching t.v. with my fiance and my dog, reading, or playing with my dog. I hang out at the Tram to drink coffee and listen to music when it’s open, or I hang out at the library or museum, or go to the mall just to have space to walk when the weather is too cold to be outside. I might show up a little tired from reading all night or need an extra bathroom break due to coffee over-consumption, but that’s about as close to high or hungover as I’m going to get.
We are not going to “put you” in our novel, painting, poem, or comedy routine.
Artists draw inspiration and information from anywhere and everywhere. We may pick up a detail or even several from one person, or we may randomly create characters, scenes, and other details.
My own novels mix details from my own life with things I have observed in others, and with research I have done, with a heavy dose of details I just imagined. In Lifting the Shadows, my character Brenda gets involved in witchcraft after divorcing her childhood sweetheart. She then goes wild, behaving like an online stripper or “cam girl,” and picking up dangerous men online with little regard to her safety or the lives of other people.
I really did study and practice witchcraft for many years before being saved. What happens in the end is really what happens when you practice witchcraft. The picking up dangerous men tendency was observed in a few others involved in the craft, and based partly on their stories and partly on research about online dating dangers. The lifelong childhood sweetheart was purely imaginary. I have never even met anyone who grew up to marry a childhood friend who was close to their family.
Just because you hire an artist, that does not mean you are going to be in their next painting, poem, or novel.