Why Do Art When You Already Have A Day Job?

Apr 25, 2017 / Day Job & the Practical / how to be creative / risks & rewards

The short answer is that whatever art, hobby, or side project you pursue will improve your day job performance and satisfaction. I know it will, because it’s happening to me. And that took me by surprise.

The Turn in The Road

I’ve been an accountant for 25 years and a little over a decade ago, I accidentally discovered photography. It became my hobby, which then progressed into an obsession, to the point that I got a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate degree that took me 4 years to complete. I was working full-time and that’s why it took so long.

I meant it to be a way to completely shift careers: quit my day job and become an Artist, with a capital A.

I graduated in 2014, and I still haven’t left my job because I’m afraid of what this would mean from an income perspective. The starving artist is a total cliche and I know it is not true, but I’m afraid to still make that leap and discover that it’s actually true in my particular case. It also doesn’t help that some of my colleagues from art school appear to be struggling as well. They haven’t found the art career that I knew they were going for. We are all trying to figure out how to do this. So for now, I’m staying in this divided life phase, where I go to my day job and do art on the weekends.

And my job is actually great. My older sister who just turned 60 found out that I wanted to leave my job. And she said, äóìDon’t do it. A lot of people are dying to get a full time job, you can’t just leave it!äóù

But an Unexpected Benefit

I always said that this isn’t my calling. This job is just a day job, which in the whole context of things is true, but something unexpected happened along the way.

Being an artist has improved my work at work. I’ve somehow gained this capacity to communicate numbers and analysis with the minimum of words. When I present a spreadsheet analysis or when I create a powerpoint slide, colleagues and my managers say that my work is very clear and understandable. Just recently,

And why is that?

Because I’m treating a spreadsheet or a powerpoint slide as a photograph.

I’m composing the spreadsheet. I’m composing the powerpoint slide.

And in art, composition is important. It is one of the building blocks of a great photograph or painting.

I never would have made this connection: that art has a place at work. I’m an accountant. People in my profession have a healthy dose of skepticism. We want hard facts. That something as äóìsoftäóù as art contributing to my daily work? That was a revelation.

And here’s the funny thing.

I’m good at my day job. I’m not the best, but I got promoted twice in the past few years around the time I was doing my MFA. I didn’t really care about promotions: in fact I didn’t want to be promoted as that entailed more responsibility and work, and I was already doing too much compared to other people’s work. I just did my work since I knew my center of gravity was different from everybody else’s. I no longer wanted to climb the proverbial corporate ladder of achievement. That is the most pointless goal in my view. I didn’t have to prove achievement, since I’ve already proven that to myself. This is the most important thing.

The Artist Mindset Can Be Learned

And You know all this art related stuff?

It can be learned.

I never had any of art knowledge when I started. I didn’t take art of any kind in high school or university. I viewed them as useless. I had zero art knowledge before starting art school.

And for purposes of the 21st century workplace, it’s not really the art itself that is important, it’s the art principles and artist mindset that are important.

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My goal is to share this realization with you through my artwork and blog writing. When you combine what you’re passionate about, whatever that is, be it painting, photographing, writing, woodworking, dressmaking, interesting things will happen. It will set you apart at workäóîeven just how you view yourselfäóîwhich is the most important viewpoint anyway. Your contributions will be unlike any other.

So why don’t you subscribe to this blog. This blog is dedicated to this realization that art and work can feed off each other. Let’s get going.

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