SALARIES / DEC. 17, 2014
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How to Avoid Being Broke in an Arts-Related Career

So, you’ve finally completed your degree. What now? Arts-related careers have long been associated with penniless, starving graduates struggling to make a living in a whimsical world devoid of all prospects of financial security. Well, the good news is that you can make it as an artist, novelist or poet; you just need a little resourcefulness and a lot of persistence.

Networking

The most important thing you can do for your art is to leave the safety of your studio and get networking. No-one will buy your work unless they know about it, so it’s vital that you connect with industry writers who will raise your profile and get your creations out there for the world to see and hopefully appreciate.

Your career will begin to generate its own momentum once you get started meeting people. Artists and writers are very much interdependent when it comes to publicity and getting their names known.

Finance and budgeting

Artistic types are notorious for being financially inept; they’ll happily sacrifice everything for their art, rather than pay the rent. Remember that there’s nothing like stress and hunger for stemming your artistic flow and financial mismanagement will surely lead to both.

Set yourself a budget and stick to it. If you have to, get yourself a part-time job. It doesn’t matter what that job is, as long as it makes you enough money to keep your landlord happy and put food in your cupboard.

See the bigger picture and think ahead

Take time out from studying to think through what you’re going to do when you graduate. Getting a really good internship is brilliant for garnering experience, but you must make sure it’s with a relevant organisation and in a field that’s pertinent to the career you hope to carve for yourself when it’s over.

Internships shouldn’t just be about providing free labour to whoever will take you on; you want to end up somewhere that you’ll learn valuable skills to draw on. You could even find yourself being inspired so much by what you experience, that your artistic career takes off in a totally unforeseen direction.

Invest in a gallery

Sometimes it pays to think outside the box. If your own artwork isn’t selling so well, try promoting and selling other people’s instead. Working in this way not only makes you money through commissions you earn on sales, it makes you more influential in the art world which could ultimately open the door for your own work.

Be prepared to be a nomad

Moving is undoubtedly a hassle and very stressful, but sometimes it’s necessary to keep your head above water. Many artists and writers end up relocating several times during the early part of their career to more affordable premises.

Consider teaching

The more experience you gather as an artist or writer, the more helpful you can be to others who are learning the business. Whilst the competition for teaching positions at college level is extremely strong, you could still consider offering private tuition services. Learning isn’t just for college students; many older people want to learn new skills like painting, creative writing or playing an instrument for example and you can make some valuable extra cash by getting into this market.

Following your dream of becoming an artist or writer doesn’t necessarily mean living on bread and water. You might have to wait a few years before you craft that bestseller or have an exhibition at the Tate, but in the meantime, these tips might just help you survive!

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