Regular jobs and illustration time



  • Thanks for sharing your stories everyone. I'm so glad this place is here. Without it I probably would have flailed around on my own and then let illustration fade away. I really wanted to be an illustrator, and people told me I should, but I told myself it wasn't possible. "Yea right, I'll just go illustrate children's books..."

    I accepted that job yesterday but I have about 2 weeks before I start. That means I'll have time to get more illustrations finished. I'm not upset about it because we'll be one step closer to moving out of my parents' house! We moved back home when my husband's time in the Marine Corps ended. Last year was a tough one but it led me back to art. I had a miscarriage, left a job I loved, had to say goodbye to the military life and it all hit me hard. But things seems to be looking up!


  • SVS OG

    @gimmehummus Any one of those life events would set someone back... to have them all in one year is tough indeed. At least art is therapeutic and if it can earn you money on the side too then all the better 🙂

    It's difficult to know what are the best life decisions to make...previously I also didn't think I could make a living from art. When I had to make a decision about what degree to do, I was trying to be sensible and paid attention to the general school of thought back then, that it was really unlikely to make a living from art. So I didn't go to art school...but the process of doing a different degree made me realise that nevertheless, a creative life was what I truly wanted. So I spent the following 12 years trying to get back to that. I got a job working in magazines, started doing art freelance on the side, started a business, and went full time freelance some time after that. Now the business takes up all my work time.

    Often I wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen an art-related degree instead. Would I have got to the same place more quickly? (most likely a different place but more conventionally arty) Would I be better at art? (almost certainly) ..but taking the long/unconventional way round might have had other benefits too.

    So anyway hope this new job leaves you with enough energy to keep the illustrations going ...if you can keep that up then you'll get there in the end.



  • I work full time at a media studio but my job isn't always "artistically satisfying". I think a lot of artists can relate to this, but I need the creative outlet I get from personal and freelance projects (fun ones). Its tough to work 8 hours a day and come home to do more work, but if you let yourself relax and enjoy the process it's worth it..and in the long run you kind of get used to it. Get some snacks, turn on some music, put on your PJs loI
    I usually get home at around 6, eat dinner, and get to work until midnight. If you don't have kids or other activities you have to commit to, it's do-able especially if you get off work in the afternoon. Just make sure you pick projects that you'll actually enjoy doing! Which is one nice thing about having a stable job because you can have the option to choose only projects you want to do.



  • The job that I left was my favorite job ever. I did visual merchandising, signing and store events. We got to be so creative and independent and I was never ever bored. And I'm kind of an introverted person so it was weird that I loved it so much. You'd think I'd be more comfortable sitting behind a computer all day but I'm not. All my previous experience was in design and I hated it. I would always get laid off or I had a nightmare boss! Plus I was sick of art by the time I got home.

    As for future kids... I'm just starting out in illustration and my husband is going back to school full time in the fall... sounds like an impossible situation but I still want kids. I'm 32 so I'm more than ready to get this show on the road if you know what I mean. Can't I just have it all?! Ha! 😞

    @Dulcie I graduated with a BFA in animation 9 years ago and I still took a meandering path to illustration!


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @gimmehummus where did you get your degree at?



  • The Illinois Institute of Art. I wouldn't recommend it. Too expensive (one of those for-profits) and they've already shut down over 30 locations.


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    I graduated with a BA in Interactive Multimedia from Columbia.



  • I went to Columbia for 2 semesters for illustration. I dropped out after someone stole my purse from the underground cafe. Couldn't take the city and the long train commute!


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @gimmehummus yikes sorry to hear that your purse was stolen. I graduated in 2001. While I was taking a course there my teacher asked if I wanted a contract job at her company, i said sure i was looking for a job. 15 years later and I am still at that company. She is no longer there.



  • I am also in this quandary. I am a full time real estate agent with a solid business but illustration has been my passion since I was a kid. I am walking this out and plugging away at my first paid children's book, to which I am almost finished PLUS working 50-60 hours per week in real estate. I am pushing through as well in order to establish myself in the industry just as I did 10 years ago with the realtor position. Hard but necessary path for many of us. Hang in there and make it happen. You can do it.



  • I'm in this situation also...I'm the marketing director for an art gallery...It's great that I get to work around art all day, but I sure wouldn't mind working on MY art all day, lol. I'm just really lucky that the people I work for are really great people - so supportive of the marketing work I do for them and just all around nice.

    Even so, it's so frustrating to me that every other skill in the world allows a person to make a living doing it. But despite the fact that it takes years of dedicated effort to hone one's skills, only a select few are really able to make a good living at it. I guess that's not completely true that every other skill allows people to make a living: sports is like art in the sense that only the top tier are really able to make a living at it....and music. Nevertheless, the injustice is maddening...I work from home, so my job is like a dream job & I genuinely love it, but still, all I think about is creating my own art...



  • I feel like I did exactly what I didn't want to do - get trapped in a job I really don't like because of money. When they put me on the presentation team that only meant I'd be doing planograms. I thought I'd be doing signage and displays but really I just reset aisles and move boxes around too early in the morning or overnight. I wanted to do something more creative but not a single resume I sent out resulted in an interview so I took the easy route with retail. Now I regret that decision.

    I did finish one of the books and am still working on the second. I do see my personal work suffering and it feels like a big setback. I'm really rather angry with myself for this.


  • SVS OG

    Wow, how did I miss this thread? Sounds like we all pretty much understand each other. And now, despite the struggles I've had to try and "make it" as an artist, I also now feel that I'm in a much better place than I could be. I happen to have an awesome husband who is an engineer and makes enough to support us. He is happy that I make some money freelancing and is happy to let me us a lot of that money trying to promote myself with postcards and conferences and such--moving forward with high hopes.

    My big wild card is that we have a baby coming in a few months. I am very round right now ;-). We are really really excited, but I just don't know how I'm going to manage my schedule after that. I do want to be the one at home taking care of her, but I also want to be the one at home drawing ;-). We'll just have to see what works I guess, every kid is different.


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