DO Give Up The Day Job!
Giving up the Day Job
If you are thinking of giving up the day job then that is a big decision to make so I thought I would share my experience on doing so here.
Contrary to the saying ‘Don’t give up the day job’ I am going to advise you to do the opposite! This may not be for everyone though so I think you have to take account of your own circumstances when actually giving up a regular income for becoming self-employed or working by doing what you love rather than what pays the bills.
I gave up the day job a few years ago and although times have been a bit tough I don't regret doing it. In addition to becoming a full time artist at the time I gave up my day job, I also now do a lot of website work to supplement my earnings from the painting sales.
In part my experience was as a result of changing circumstances but overall the decision was mine to give up a job with a regular salary and focus on doing what I love (painting). In 2004 I had a good job with a big company in the UK working in the IT department designing and configuring websites. I actually really enjoyed this job and didn’t have any intention of giving it up. However, life had other plans for me when my boyfriend told me that he had a chance of a job working in Dubai. Being someone that loves travelling and has lived abroad for short periods of time before, I could not pass up this opportunity of moving to a new country (albeit that I didn’t really know where Dubai was at that time!).
Luckily for me my company kept me on for 3 months after I moved so that i was still working for them and had a nice transition to a new life. Once that job ended though I had to find my own way. At that time I was a hobby artist and I wanted to explore creating some abstract art for a month or two while I looked for a new job. I built up a collection of abstract oil paintings before finding an admin job a few months later.
When I had been in the job a few months I found out about a craft fair that was taking place so I booked a slot. Luckily for me I sold my largest painting from my collection and this fired up my enthusiasm for painting and possibly selling paintings. From then onwards I took part in the monthly art and craft fairs and continued to sell some pieces.
To cut a long story short, after a couple of years of this I started getting work for interior designers and I had to spend more time painting so I went part time with my job to give me more time to do this. Eventually though I found I just didn’t have enough time to concentrate on the art and I gave up the admin job completely and became a full time artist.
It has not been an easy thing to do but I don’t regret doing it. It is very hard to make a living as a professional artist and you really have to be in a country like Dubai where there are plenty of opportunities to do lots of other work as well as selling to individuals. I have done quite a number of paintings for hotels and interior designers and that is the kind of work that continues to make it possible. I will quite often have a craft fair every weekend so it also makes it hard socially as I am always working when other people are off but I would not change it. I can paint at any time of day so if I have other things to do during the day then i can paint in the evening. I can go and meet friends for coffee or play golf or go to the beach and just make up the time later.
Advice to Others
My advice to anyone else who is thinking of giving up the day job is this:
- Have you fully investigate the options ad possibilities that are in your area to make enough money to live on?
- Have you considered going part time with your job before giving it up altogether so that you can test the market before completely jumping in?
- Do you have some savings to fall back on in case things do not work out?
- Do you have a job that you can do on a short term contract basis in case you need to make some extra money?
- Have you already been doing as much work as you can on your potential new job before giving up your income stream?
These are just a few things to think about – make sure you have done plenty of marketing, set yourself up a website, got all of your marketing materials – business cards, brochures etc – printed and even distributed and try and build up your list of contacts first. Only jump in full time when you are sure you have done everything possible to make it work for you.
And if you do it, I wish you the best of luck!