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Is It Better to Be a Full-Time Artist or Keep It as a Hobby?

Millions of people dream of becoming artists, but it can be tough to generate a full-time salary from it. You’ll have a ton of competition to contend with, and not everyone appreciates art as much as you do.

Plus, there may not be a market for your signature style. So is it better to keep your art as purely a hobby and obtain a stable job in a dependable industry, like a position as a CPA?

If you do, you might not have as much time to develop your creative work as you’d like – and you may be so fatigued from your day job that you can’t summon up the energy to pursue your art.

Which is better? Should you strive to become a full-time artist or keep it as a part-time hobby?

The Advantages of Pursuing Art Full-Time

There are several advantages to pursuing art full time, which include:

·         More time to hone your skills. The obvious benefit here is that if you have 40 hours a week to dedicate to art, you’ll have plenty of time to hone your skills. You can practice constantly and achieve those 10,000 hours necessary to become a true master (though the 10,000 hour rule needn’t be taken literally).

·         A greater volume of work. Working on your art full-time should also result in a larger body of work, which you can sell for a greater amount of money, at least in theory. If you can produce a new piece every 20 hours or so, you can churn out two new pieces every week instead of one or two per month. If you manage to sell consistently, you’ll make more money.

·         No distractions or energy vampires. Let’s face it: full-time work can be draining. If you’re working full time at something else, at least some of your “free” time may be prey to distracting concerns and mental fatigue. But if you’re a full-time artist, these shouldn’t pose an issue.

·         Branding and reputation. It’s also worth noting that being a full-time artist can be better for your reputation. Some people will take you more seriously if you’re known to have gone deeply into your work, rather than treating creative activity as a fun thing to do on the side. This judgment isn’t necessarily accurate or fair, but the assumption is common and all but unavoidable.

The Advantages of Relegating Art to a Hobby

On the other hand, there are significant advantages to keeping art as a part-time hobby.

·         A steady stream of income. If you’re not selling art, you’re not making money – which can be stressful. With a stable full-time job to back you up, you’ll be making enough money to put gnawing financial concerns to rest.

·         Keeping art as a passion. Working on art full-time may turn it into a job – and whether you see it coming or not, this could make you fall out of love with your creative drive. Keeping it as a hobby tends to preserve it as a passion, which you can pursue as you see fit, with no obligations or constraints.

·         Outside inspiration and opportunity. Sometimes, working a different career can provide you with inspiration and new opportunities. You may discover some aspect of life you never would have discovered if you had stayed aloof in the creative arena.

·         Less pressure. When you work on art full time, you may feel enormous pressure to create new works on a regular basis and keep improving yourself. If you have a full-time job on hand, however, your art may feel more open and free.

Variables to Consider

Every artist is different, so the pros and cons could look different for you than they will to anyone else. To make the decision easier, focus on the following variables:

·         Personal disposition. Consider your personal preferences. Do you prefer the idea of working full time on art? Or are you the kind of person who craves stability and security?

·         Career opportunities are available. What are the career options available to you? Do you have a high-paying job lined up, or do you need to go back to school to land a viable professional career?

·         Experience with art. How much experience do you have as an artist? Have you done it for many years already or are you just getting started?

·         Current savings. How much do you currently have in personal savings? How long could you last if you didn’t sell anything for a good while?

·         Previous success. Do you have reason to believe you could be a successful full-time artist? Have you sold any work in the past?

Your dream may be to become a full-time artist, but that may not be the best course, in view of your career prospects compared to your momentum in the art world. Fortunately, you can change your mind at any time, so don’t feel too much pressure to make a permanent “correct” decision. Do what feels right for now and keep your mind open to other possibilities. 

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