Shiraz, Detail, 20.4724 x 28.3465" / 52 x 72 cm, Acrylic on Paper, 2014
Because of current goings on in the jillalife, I find myself returning to a subject I touched on two years ago~ how art is, in fact, a real job. As in, if you were to reply to someone who might tell an artist to get a real job.
By ‘real job’, I mean the kind that you might go to an office for, own a company for, or, get paid regularly for, or what a lot of people might call a ‘day job’.
In the post I linked to above, I ask ‘Why is it people seem to think you’re not a ‘serious’ artist if you have a day job?’ It’s like you’re ‘less legit’, somehow.
In any case, a very recent series of tumultuous (for me) events relating to what I wrote earlier this year have, I guess, caused me to reflect on how many artists often do have parallel careers. And how these other careers don’t make them ‘less of an artist’ than artists who ‘just art’.
So I thought I might look for these, what they call multi-passionate (that’s the word they use these days, isn’t it?) artists. Just to see whether they’re isolated cases or whether having what I call leading a ‘Batman life’ really is a thing.
I wanted to look for artists who weren’t doing part-time / tide-me-over / odd jobs or even art-related jobs~I mean no disrespect or anything in the slightest. I’m thinking more like, that illustrator (whose name I still I can’t remember) who I mentioned in that post about Ang INK, who did, illustrations (duh) whilst he was a physical therapist. As in that kind of concurrent career.
Crossberry Shake, 12 x 12" / 30.48 x 30.48 cm, Watercolour on Paper, 2006
Not that I did a whole lot of research for this post (when do I ever LOL~perhaps if I didn’t have my Bruce Wayne life I’d have time to do that, haha). But the thing is, I wasn’t able to find very many, let alone anyone from my neck of the global woods, and I have to admit, it was a tad disheartening.
But hey, that’s probably because they don’t have the time to be online for me to find precisely because they’ve got Batman lives, too ^_^
Or, because the ‘art world’ or whatever doesn’t think they’re ‘as legit’ as the artists who just have the one career / who are ‘full time’. Well, as I’ve said before / I can honestly look you in the eyes and say~if ‘full time’ means giving 100%, artists who have to be Batman give 200%. (Which, I can also honestly say, means you use yourself up twice as fast, if not faster~ but, I digress, so sorry).
But here are the handful of visual artists who had other jobs at the same time that I did find, real quick. So no writers, musicians or film makers here, so sorry; I was thinking I might focus on the ones who were (if I may make so bold) ‘more like me’.
I also mostly didn’t put anybody who studied to be something else, but ended up becoming an artist instead (like Alcuaz or Kandinsky) because that wouldn’t be a parallel career. I admit there are part-timers and ex-_’s (so their other careers weren’t exactly concurrent, either) on the list, but I put them there because, and, yeah, because I couldn’t find very many ^^;
The Tax Collector
carulmare, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) was the first artist to come to mind when I thought I would write about this this month, because he was Le Douanier even while he was painting. I’ve always had a soft spot for this guy <3 not only because he knew what it was like to paint and have another job, but because (if I again, may make so bold) I saw a lot of myself in his career.
See, people found his work, you know. Childish, or not as sophisticated as you know. Super realistic stuff or whatever. It was flat or 2D, that kind of thing. So you know. He got a lot of flak for it, like he had haters. Also, he painted a lot of stuff that he never actually saw in real life (like jungles) so he did a lot of research for it (like going to botanical gardens).
That couldn’t have been easy for him to take (I know it wouldn’t have been easy for me) but he kept at it anyway, and he worked real hard on his stuff (what artist doesn’t). So I was really, really happy for him to have gotten at least some recognition while he was still alive~Picasso threw him this legendary party which fellow artists attended.
And he was able to join the Salon des Independants~even if he didn’t ‘get a good spot’ there, people slowly but steadily came to appreciate his work. All this from a guy who was a customs officer as well as a painter. I’d be lucky if I achieved a fraction of what he had during his lifetime.
The Mechanical Engineer
Manuelarosi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is a name I couldn’t forget even if I wanted to (because of the Materials classes we were required to take back in art school, among other things). He wasn’t exactly a mechanical engineer while he was *arting* but he did study to be one~just like my dad (and because of that, he’s here) ^_^
I find it interesting how both of his parents were artists but neither of them wanted him to be one (I hear that happens a lot when artists have kids) (and even when non-artists have kids, lol). He went on to become a hydraulic engineer (which reminds me of the Sherlock story <3) and a ship’s mechanic, but he eventually left all that behind to become an artist full time.
Apart from the kinetic art we all know and love, Calder also made jewellery and these waaay larger, non-moving outdoor sculptures like his dad and even his granddad used to make. One called Mountains and Clouds was made out of sheet metal, was nine storeys tall and weighed 35 tonnes~imagine that suspended and swinging gently in some air currents ^o^
In any case, to me his mechanical engineering background makes total sense~like how it often happens how an artist’s other job can influence or make an impact on the work (and vice versa ^_^). Like I’ve read how poets, or writers who are doctors or something draw inspiration from their day job, or use their day-to-day as source material.
I think that applies here and I know my own work as a writer in advertising, marketing and mass media has had its effects on my work as an artist, too.
Susanne Nilsson from Trelleborg, Sweden, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Vivian Maier (1926-2009) wasn’t famous during her lifetime and people really only discovered her work after she passed away. But I wanted to spotlight her here because she went on *arting* anyway the whole time she was working her day job taking care of children.
Now anybody who takes care of children, whether they do it for a living or not, knows that it’s a full time gig and then some. So I really can’t but admire how Maier didn’t let that get in the way of her photography. She cared for the children of two families for a total of 40 years, and during that time, she shot the streets of Chicago, LA~and Manila!
See, she’d dropped by here to take pictures while on a trip around the world she’d gone on by herself, which included stops in Bangkok, Beijing and Shanghai, as well as Italy, Egypt, and Syria. I’ve done a bit of travelling on my own, too, so this really rather speaks to me.
They say she never, ever showed her photos to anybody and that she was something of an enigma, really. In the end, a couple of the kids she took care of had to take care of her because she fell on hard times~but I am so glad somebody did. Now, her world-famous work is exhibited in galleries, books, and even in the movies ^_^
The Moving Guy
Kleon3, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Richard Serra (1938-) had a moving van, like for moving house, and he even had other artists like Chuck Close help him out with the business. As I understand it, he didn’t really do this for like a full-on career~he said it was good for him and his team because they never worked more than three days a week, tops. So they were able to art the rest of the time.
Again (if IMMSB once more) this kind of reminds me of my radio station days where I also only worked a few hours for a few days every week so I could art whenever I wasn’t there. (After about a decade doing that I found I had to go back to doing other work full time, so~but again I digress.)
So when he wasn’t moving furniture, Serra made groundbreaking sculpture doing things like flinging molten lead against a wall and erecting free-standing outdoor pieces that remind me of what a couple of my art school classmates did for their thesis. He also did a lot of drawing, printmaking and videos, and went on to win a lot of prestigious awards.
Zarateman, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Jeff Koons (1955-) did go to art school and get a job at MoMa, but he’s also a commodities broker on Wall Street with a licence for selling stocks and mutual funds. He made art the whole time he was working the stock market, and he says his day job lets him make the kind of art he really wants to make, so he wouldn’t ‘need the art market’.
The art he ‘really wants to make’ includes giant ‘metal balloon animals’, topiary sculptures, and two of the world’s most expensive pieces of art—Wikipedia says his Balloon Dog sold for USD58.4 million and his Rabbit sold for USD91.1 million.
Whatever some people might say about his art (I mean let’s face it, we can’t please everybody), I have to agree with what he said about how having a day job kind of takes the pressure off of making stuff.
I’m fairly sure I’ve said this on the jillablog before but, I’m not saying artists who are able to make a living just painting~and painting what they ‘really want’ are, you know, or something. And I’ll say again, from my heart, good for them! I’m just saying that while living the Batman life has its own pressures, I have to say that having Bruce around does rather take the edge off.
Incidentally, in reading up for this post, I found out Gaugin was a stockbroker, too~for 11 years! He was super successful at it, during which time he had one foot in the art market~but he didn’t start painting full time until the Paris stock market crashed in 1882.
The Security Guard
Lou051 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Fred Wilson (1954-) has to be on this list because he super reminds me of this other museum security guard whom I met way back in my super early 20’s. I was still working my first job as an ad agency copywriter and all the money I made from that job went to art classes at the museum where he worked. To my eternal shame, I can’t for the life of me remember that guard’s name.
But I remember him quite vividly because he was helping to hang the canvases I made at my classes there~you know, for the class exhibits. And because of that, he ended up inviting me to his own opening because he painted, too.
Okay, so my fuzzy memory can’t remember whether his show was also at the museum or a nearby gallery. But I remember he looked very dapper in his black, long sleeved polo shirt and that if you didn’t know better you would never in a zillion years think he was the guard. I remember thinking the show on the whole was pretty awesome.
So anyway ^_^ Wilson himself was, on top of being a museum security guard, a museum curator, installer, administrator, educator~ and conceptual artist. And again, it makes sense that working in a museum made a huge impact on his work, although he did also go to art school. He’s represented the US at the Venice and Cairo biennales and is now a Whitney Museum trustee.
Shining Mane, Foggy Mane, 36 x 36" / 91.44 x 91.44 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2011
So apart from our friends Wikipedia and Google ^_^ a lot of what I wrote here came from MentalFloss, Artspace, AIGA Eye on Design~and memory (especially Rousseau) <3 But I’m hoping you might have stories to share about other artists who, you know. Led that double life and aren’t any less of an artist for it.
Anyway, I can’t say why, exactly, I felt the need to write this, this month. I think this really only became an issue when I thought I might, try to ‘make something of’ my other job instead of subordinating it to my art the way I always had since I first started that first copywriter job so long ago.
After spending most of this year working towards that objective, I’m starting to think I might have made a mistake.
But see, if I thought that, I guess you could say (and indeed I have actually said) that Bruce was the part-time / odd job and Batman had always been the ‘job-job’. Instead of both of them being jobs or individual, equal careers (which was kind of the point of this post to begin with). You know what I mean (I hope).
But I guess that’s a post for another time.
* Interested in any of my pieces in this post? ^_^;
Drop me a line to let me know
and I'll let you know if it's still available,
or how soon I can make something similar just for you.