Case Study: Artist - Marilyn

What do you do?

Artists create artworks that communicate and convey feelings, ideas and experiences. I make figurative paintings that convey human spirituality.

I also teach painting and drawing to adults, helping them develop visual and verbal art skills. Many artists also write about art in books, newspapers and magazines.

What is your background?

I studied art and art history at college and then continued my art education through various art schools. When I opened my own studio, I was working full-time on my art as well as doing other jobs that actually paid.

During the first ten years, I worked as a waitress. For the last 20 years, I've taught art classes to teenagers and adults. I'm still doing that today, as well as exhibiting my own work.

Art has given me a means to communicate in my own language. My most recent discovery has been the fusion of art and teaching. They actually feed off one another. Teaching makes me a better artist and my studio work makes me a better teacher.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Making art requires hard work, both physically and mentally. It requires dedication and persistence.

There is often a financial sacrifice because it can take a long time to gain recognition from the art world. To deal with this, artists must believe in what they do. Many have to work a different part-time or full-time job to keep money coming in.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

Learning to solve problems creatively is an important skill that you develop, as are communication skills and working with tools. Any job that requires practical skills, creative thinking, flexibility and energy would be good for artists.

What changes will there be in the future?

The demand for artists will probably stay the same. Society will always need artists, writers, dancers and musicians to express what is at the heart and soul of humanity.

Artists always explore new tools and materials to work with. Many artists use computers in their work.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

The most challenging aspect for young artists is juggling all the part-time jobs to pay the bills. This can take away from time we'd rather be spending painting.

The other difficult part of the job is marketing our work. We have to put a lot of time and effort into the marketing, just to make a few sales.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

There are not many opportunities for artists, at least not until they establish themselves in the art world. If you are just starting out, get a good education in art. Learn what artists before you have done, then create something entirely new.

If you are producing art now, talk to art dealers about getting your own show in a gallery. Make a portfolio of your own work to distribute to galleries in your area. If you want to sell your own art, you can go to art fairs.

What do you like about your job?

What I like most about my job is that I am totally immersed in what I'm interested in. I love making art, and I'm either making art or I'm teaching art. So, there's this total involvement in my field of interest.

I have a lot of personal creative freedom. I'm immersed in my thoughts, my ideas, and I can present these to people. And I'm also my own boss. My time is my own. I can work all hours; I can work at night if I want.

What do you dislike about your job?

One of the things that I like least about my job is the very low pay. It's very hard to keep working sometimes when you're not getting financial rewards. There are also no benefits, such as pension schemes or paid holidays. So, I have to be very creative about how I find these things for myself.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

My most important advice to you would be to be persistent. Continue to work, continue to believe in yourself. Meet people in your field and network. Challenge yourself. Push yourself to the limits. Learn your craft, learn your skill. Believe in what you do.

A day in the life

9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Teaching all levels of figure drawing, portrait and expressive drawing to students aged 20 to 70 years old, at a local arts centre. Then giving demonstrations and lectures to help students. I might also be holding group discussions to help with their art techniques.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Eating lunch and travelling.

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Working in the studio (painting and creating), planning artwork, cutting wood and shaping it into an art form or adding it to an existing piece of art.

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Going home and eating dinner.

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Working in my office at home, preparing marketing packs about my artwork and sending out information to people enquiring about my work.

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