Epiphany Digital Illustration created by @K_DougDE
Once every two weeks, I always get questioned on whether it is a good idea to quit your full time job that may or may not be art related to become a full time artist of your choice. This question always has me thinking about my personal future along with my future career and whether I am making the correct decisions for myself in life right now.
As you may already know, I have been a freelance graphic designer for over 10 years, and have been painting since the first grade of elementary school which is now over 20 years ago. This art thing and creative energy I have runs deep and it’s nothing new on my end. Growing up I always knew I wanted to work for myself and always knew I wanted that work to be art related in some way. Unfortunately, life doesn’t allow things to go this smoothly and during undergrad years of college I learned this tough lesson the hard way. But to answer the initial question: it can be a good idea to quit your full time job to become a full time artist, but I would advise you to have all your major and important ducks in a row beforehand. Every individual is not the same and everyone’s lives aren’t set up the same. When deciding whether you are ready to go full time with your art, you must remember that everyone experiences this transition differently. Many jump right in and begin to profit with no major issues while also keeping the bills paid on time and in full. But some have a tough time with supporting their career and their personal lives. Lets take a look at some factors that may come about on your transition into becoming a full time artist.
Factors to Account For Before Quitting Your Job for your Art Career
- Monthly Income & Expenses
- Internet Connection
- Your Home
- Natural Disasters
Monthly Income & Expenses
As a full time artist or creative, your first step should be to set up a system to keep up with your income along with your expenses.
- Income – money received for work or through investments
- Expense – cost or charge; a cause or occasion of spending
Keeping a record of how much money is coming into your business or to you, along with how much money is going out of your business that you are spending out each day, week, month and year is key to making it as a full time artist or creative. If you don’t record and keep up with these two things, how will you know whether you are making money or not? As a full time artist or creative, you do have the option of hiring your own employees or using additional services for your finances but you will still need to double check both of those additional options to make sure things remain running smoothly so it is best to learn this practice yourself. Every time you swipe your card or purchase something with cash, write it down or record it in some manner. This should be more of a daily act as most people spend some form of money they have almost everyday whether it be for leisure activities or business related expenses. Everything that you spend is an expense. Every time you receive money of any form, write it down or record it in some manner. Any money you receive for yourself or your business is income and should be recorded.
Once you have recorded your daily expenses and income, come back to those two lists at the end of every month and add everything up. Once you have a total amount for both income and expense records, begin comparing the two. If your income total is more than your expense total then you are on the right track. That is the goal here, to receive more than putting out. If your expense total is more than your income total then you know you are spending more than saving and need to cut back some. Try looking at what you’re spending more on. I always make sure I record not only the date and amount spent on that specific date, but I also record what exactly it was that I purchased along with where I purchased the item from and what form of payment I used. If I find that I am spending too much on gas for example at a specific gas station then I will do my research and find a new gas station to visit that is cheaper for the next month. If I find that I am only spending more by swiping my card then I will limit how much I carry around my card for the following month. Same goes for cash transactions. If I find that I am spending more with cash transactions, I will make sure that I am not tempted to rack up additional expenses by only carrying my card and depositing any cash I have into my account.
Most creatives forget this area of their finances when going full time. As a full time creative, no one is going to be saving for you. No one is going to be there to remind you to save a little of your income for rainy days or anything of that nature. Of course, people sometimes have mentors and form circles of support systems, but at the end of the day your business or service will be run by you and only you. When you get paid any amount, take a portion of that money out and place it in a savings account of some sort. You can even set up a shoe box or a water jug container as a method of saving money. How much you are saving is solely up to you and is based on how much money you are making of your own. Someone else’s saving plan work for you, but it is always best to set up a plan to fit you and your needs. Why you should save? Well, there are a number of reasons to keep some extra money on the side. The two biggest are for rainy days where emergencies may come about that are unexpected, and so you can purchase that big thing that you want. This big thing you’re saving for could be to pay off an increasing debt hanging over your head, or it could be for something else like a new house or a new means of transportation. Either, way make sure you’re saving something monthly and keeping a record of it.
When you set out to become a full time artist, another important factor you should account for is your method of insurance. This includes health insurance, home owner’s insurance, rental insurance, car insurance, and property insurance for your devices and other items you may own related to your business. No one can predict everything that is to come for the future so it is best to have something in place for those unexpected moments.
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Becoming a full time artist means that you will be on the computer a lot more than likely. Even as a painter, you’ll still need access to a computer if you’re planning on providing prints and merchandise of your work, along with marketing yourself online to gain clientele and projects for you to make some money for yourself. Make sure you have a strong internet coverage at your home or residence before moving towards full time. If you aren’t able to get internet coverage then map out some places that do offer this service. Times are not like back in the day. There are plenty of places around the world that offer free internet service to customers and those who just need a space to get work done unless you’re in a completely remote area. But even for those who live in remote areas, there are more options for internet coverage than back in the day. Do your research and plan ahead.
This doesn’t apply to everyone. Really everything said in this blog post doesn’t apply to everyone. But you need to think about how you’re going to get around in life before going full time. If you’re in the city where public transportation is provided, I would advise using them to cut this additional expense. Yes, your transportation will be an expense in all areas. Cars/trucks cost money and they also cost to keep up and maintain. For me personally, my car is my biggest expense right now behind feeding myself. You have to do so much to keep it running including oil changes, brakes pads, making sure fluid levels are set properly, keeping it clean, don’t get me started on these gas prices to go from point A to point B, and don’t let a major incident happen like transmission work or engine failure. Your car can end up costing you way more than what it’s worth if you’re not careful in this area. Look into obtaining bus passes, or metro cards for trains and sub stations. These will cut cost completely. Right now Lyft and Uber are available as well but please be careful with both of these services and be mindful of your timing of booking rides with these services as well, they can become quite expensive as well. Another great option to think about are mopeds, scooters or even bicycles. These are not only cheaper but they are also great for the environment and your health overall.
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Where are you going to live as a full time artist? Are you going to live by yourself and handle bills and responsibilities on your own? Does having a roommate sound better for your living arrangements to cut costs? Of course, I don’t have to tell you how important it is to have some sort of roof over your head or your own safety and security. Make sure you have everything in place before going full time to sustain your residence monthly. Also understand that there is nothing wrong with living with your parents for some tim to get your expenses right before taking that jump off the porch to live on your own. Just make sure you’re helping them out with the bills, food and abiding by their house rules while you’re living with.
For clothing, you have some wiggle room compared to the other factors mentioned above. Understand, going full time may cause you to make some sacrifices. Your clothing choices should be the first sacrifice. When going full time always find ways to cut costs in all areas. Shop for cheaper clothing. That means do not continue or begin to shop for a whole bunch of luxury clothing items knowing you have other things to make sure are taken care of for your well being. This really applies to those choosing to work traditional job positions as well. Cut back by shopping cheaper at smaller discounted department stores or even consignment shops. If you know you have enough clothes at home, don’t go out shopping at the mall and in stores every single week just because stores are having sales. Don’t try to shop for the most expensive name brand apparel just to show off. That’s money that could go into your business. Follow our sister site DeluxHair on Instagram by clicking here for opportunities on fashion sales, discounts and giveaways.
There are ways to cut costs of feeding yourself as a full time artist. For one, shop lighter. Don’t go out purchasing $15.00 USD salmon in which you’re only getting one or two pieces of salmon which means you’re only getting one meal out of that $15 USD. You could get a $5 USD pack of 6 chicken legs, $1 USD pack of rice, one can of green beans for $1.50 USD, one bag of dinner rolls for $1.50 and one apple pie for $3 USD instead and have more than one meal for the week plus some additional money left over to go towards something else needed. If you begin to use coupons on top of watching your spending on food, you’ll be able to save even more money as well. Opt out of purchasing fast food and eating out at restaurants all together. Cook and meal prep for a while to save money and balance out making sure you have food to eat weekly. You can eat like movie star when your business begins to make a substantial amount of money monthly.
This area doesn’t apply to everyone but it is something to think about overall in our day and age. Whether you agree or not, the climate is changing and you should be able to notice it more now. There are a lot more weather related incidents that have been happening lately including floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The most common disaster that could affect a freelancer and a full time artist would be fires and flooding. Always make sure you are covered under some form of insurance as mentioned above, along with making sure you’re able to apply for additional grant money when a disaster hits. There are numerous grant associations that can help you in this area if something like this happens to you.
I’m just going to be completely honest with you here, if you have children do not depend on your income from being an artist solely to live off of. Understand that this is not to say that it is not possible to go full time as an artist if you have children, but I am saying that it is not safe for them if you are not making a substantial amount of money every single month from your art. Your kids depend on you to do the right things in life for their well being. You should never take a chance and go full time knowing you have to feed someone else other than yourself. With having children, there will be surprise expenses and there will be emergencies to come about.
If you’re married then you have an advantage here, especially if your husband or wife is the breadwinner of your relationship. Most artists I see to go full time have a spouse to back them up financially and emotionally. It’s always great to have some help and having a spouse as a full time artist is a dream come true for all full time artists. Now, you do have the situations where a spouse does not want you to go full time out of fear. Either prove them wrong by working extra hard towards your goals, or get rid of them for someone else that will help you and encourage you and teach you how to go full time successfully.
Going Full Time Does Not Mean You’re Lazy
As a full time artist, most believe you are either not doing anything all day or that you just have this ample amount of time to work with constantly. The truth is this is an illusion of jealousy. Every single person that I have encountered that have insinuated this about my art career has shown so much how they were jealous that I even had the courage to step out and do something different for my career and future. Many want to go about following their dreams and pursuing that big goal of working for themselves but that financial blanket and security of having consistent pay checks coming in and not having to worry about insurance and that sort of thing keeps them stuck in the same cycle year after the year. Ultimately, that dream passes them by and by the time they really branch out they’re already older and it is too late to do so. Don’t let their lack of ambition and willpower stop you from pursuing your goals and dreams. Also don’t allow people like this to determine what you do with your time and how you go about handling business for yourself. Being a full time artist doesn’t mean that you are lazy. Going full time doesn’t mean that you are wasting your time if you are managing your time well.
As a full time artist or creative, you are actually doing twice as much, if not ten times as much work for yourself compared to one that is working a traditional full time position. You will have to be your own boss, nobody is going to call you and make sure you’re up at a certain time for work everyday. You are in charge of setting your own hours, nobody else is going to set up your work schedule for you to go by daily. You are in charge of your own payroll. You are in charge of keeping up with who has paid and who hasn’t along with making sure your expenses have been paid on time. As a full time artist or creative you are responsible for every single position and role of your business, where as with a traditional job position you are only responsible for the position that has been assigned to you by your boss within that company.
As you can see, going full time as an artist or creative can be rewarding, but only if you put in the work to fulfill those rewards. This route has never been easier. You will still have to work regardless.
Good luck everyone and don’t give up on your dreams!
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