In my years as an employment consultant I saw many artists who wanted to pursue their passion. When I asked, “What do you want to do for employment?”, I would hear, “I want to be a musician”, or “I want to be a landscape artist”, or, “I want to be a carver”.
I always had to bite my tongue to keep from adding, “….and what else?”, because I knew how difficult it would be to support themselves, let alone a family, on the sporadic income. While a person may be extremely talented, for most, it is not full-time work.
This was highlighted in a talk recently by Calvin Dyck, Concert Master for the Vancouver Island Symphony. Even the principal musicians in this professional orchestra are part-time and the have other pursuits to fill in the monetary void. Some teach music, while others have unrelated occupations. Calvin eluded to one principal musician who has a business repairing garage doors. Calvin, in addition to his role as Concert Master, teaches music, conducts and arranges tours for the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra, produces a concert series, and adjudicates at music festivals.
In Christine Beamer’s blog, “The Rearview Mirror: What I Wish I’d Known in Music School”, she writes that ‘versatility is the name of the game.’ ‘The more skills you have, the more ways you have to create work for yourself’.
Some are fortunate and eventually able to rely solely on their artistic endeavours. I had a draftsman work for me who was a wildlife artist. He is now doing well and supporting his family with his art. I have two other friends who are excellent artists but, while their passion is in the arts, they have had to have another occupation to support themselves.
This is not unusual, nor is it bad, it just is the way of the world and a different way of ‘work’. Think about it, actors have the same issues with their craft, many entrepreneurs work project to project, not knowing if there is another at the end of each. Most have a fall-back plan, another source of income that will sustain them. This may be related work or something entirely different.
The most important thing to do in your work-life is to follow your passion. Be prepared to stray from it with supplemented skills when needed, but you will be happiest doing what you love!
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” —Bob Dylan
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