Arts Council of Wales | Sustaining your practice

Sustaining your practice

Some things to consider

It is unlikely you will be able to make a regular income from making and selling art works. Generally you will be working part-time or on a temporary basis as you balance paying bills with your practise.

If your looking for work that is flexible, registering with as employment agencies will give you an income in-between types of work you feel more inclined to do to support your practice. Agencies generally specialise on different sectors of the work force. Manual or repetitive work such as order pickers or supermarket work pays less but can be less stressful. Call centres, like supermarket work has a heavy turn around of staff but can be mentally draining if in promotions and out-bound calling. These jobs have the benefit of being able to work flexible shifts that suit a studio practice. Care work is a type of work favoured by a lot of creative people. Work involving sleep-ins or nights means you can earn higher rates of pay while working more hours in a shorter time. Work can be stressful but also rewarding. Office work, depending on the post, can pay well and the difference between the office and the studio environment can be a good thing.

Many artists teach. Full-time posts are rarely advertised; while it is possible your practice may suffer greatly from such a commitment. Part-time lecturing is a much sort after job and while qualifications for teaching are become the norm, generally part-time posts if not long-term can be unqualified. It is worth enquiring about visiting lecturer possibilities at colleges as many courses run a professional development program that invites artists to speak about their practice.

Artists can also pick up writing for art publications, newspapers, whether critical texts or reviews. Not sustainable on its own but every little helps, while jobs as gallery assistances, technicians and admin roles in arts organisations are also commonly done by artists.

New Skills

Leaving college is an end to one way of life and the beginning of another. You won't by any means have all the skills to sustain your practice. Look at what skills you have. Are any of your skills as an artist transferable or could be used in a freelance/commercial way?
You may consider a teaching certificate that allows you to teach workshops to adults at local colleges running part-time courses. Learning imaging software opens up new methods of working and can also be taught to others. Think about what techniques you know that you to could teach to others.

Studio time

You need to keep going to your studio despite all the other commitments you will have. Personalise you space; get a kettle, a microwave, your favourite biscuits, things that will mean to can work there for long periods working through ideas. Sounds simple but don't under estimate the power of comforts such as biscuits in creating a bond with your space. It is easy to sit and do nothing in a studio, it can be a place of escape but remember it is not a haven for you from all the other responsibilities you have, it's a place where you make ideas a reality.

Money Matters

Avoid applying for a loan to primarily to clear a debt. Use a loan for a planned and costed project so you have a physical outcome. One example would be buying a piece of equipment that will not only sustain your art practice but enhance it. For example; if you are making video work, consider buying a projector, there is a potential to hire it out and you can use it to show your own work. The Arts Council of Wales has an interest free loan scheme for artists. Check the website funding section for information on how to apply.

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