Monday, July 18, 2011

Keeping or Quitting your Day Job:

I am curious, regarding the idea of Keeping or Quitting your day job, how EM members refer to their work, and define themselves. Some people refer to themselves as, artists. While others may call themselves a craftsperson, jeweller, dabbler, etc. Some may even prefer no definition.
For some of us a 'day job' is necessary to keep a studio space outside of our homes, maintain supplies, food in our stomaches, etc., etc.
Some people that have work (day/night jobs) aside from their creative pursuits often hope or dream of a time when these creative pursuits will be able to take centre stage.

Etsy Metal members share their stories of the work they love, sacrifices made (or not made) in being artists, metalsmiths, makers, etc.
This series is about achieving a fundamental sense of fulfillment and purpose, of finding your place in a community of your peers. It's about sharing the truth of what it is to be an artist in the 21st century, in all of its forms. We all walk different paths in the expression of our work, yet we came together through Etsy.

Current interview with, Catherine Chandler

EM: How do you define yourself? For instance, do you refer to yourself as an Artist, Maker, Silversmith, Metalsmith, Goldsmith, Truck Driver or Jeweller?

CC: I am a metalsmith. It is in the core of my being, it is who I am, who I have become. I could have become a hundred different things, but I chose that path that spoke directly to my heart. And of course, when I tell people that I am a metalsmith, I get an inquisitive look, and have to explain that I make jewelry and small metal sculpture :D I usually wear my own jewelry, which helps others to understand just what kind of jewelry I make.

EM: Would you [do you] describe your work as Art, Craft, Jewelry, or are there different categories dependant upon outlet/venue, mood?

Usually when I am describing my work, I am speaking of the jewelry side of things. I don't create a lot of sculpture at the moment, and what I do is generally wearable (which gets *really* interesting looks from the public!)

EM: Do you have a day job, part time job or is being a(n) {fill in the blank} your full time job?

CC: I do have a day job, and thankfully so, as I am the main breadwinner in our little household and my jewelry simply doesn't sell well over Etsy. I work as a nanny, and have for nearly 6 years. I kind of fell into the job, honestly. I had moved to Portland, OR from Hood River, OR to finish my degree (which I had started in Australia) and had sworn off being a barista ever again. I had some experience in the caregiving field, and a friend set me up with a family she knew who needed a nanny. The job was flexible and paid much better than caregiving, and was fun and ever-changing (who doesn't love to get paid to go to the zoo?!). I didn't intend to stay on as a nanny for as long as I have, but when my intended plans didn't pan out (my attempt to go to grad school is another long story), I saw no need to leave a stable job and income. The flexibility of being a nanny has given me time through the years to continue working on my jewelry and metalwork, without being dependent on the sporadic income it brings. When my fiance lost his job last October, with no prospects of a new job and no unemployment insurance, I was even more grateful to have a great job that pays well and can get us through these hard times. Without my 'day job', we'd have been out on the streets for sure, and one of the things that this whole experience has made me realize is that I want a career. Not as an artist, but as a teacher. I want the security of a stable income, and I want to teach metalsmithing, so I am going through the hoops in order to pursue that.

EM: What sacrifices have you made (do you feel you’ve made or still make) in order to pursue creating/making your work?

CC: I would say that the most common sacrifice that most artists/makers make is their social life. Especially if they have a day job! My social life has definitely taken a toll, and at times I really miss the ability to just go out for drinks after work, but then again, I would not trade the satisfaction that my art gives me. It is like my missing piece. Some people find that missing piece in religion, or partying, or shopping....I find it in metal. My friends and family have learned to accept and understand my bouts of disappearing when I'm working on projects, and are always welcoming when I come back up for air.

EM: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar path knowing what you know now?

CC: I studied for my original BFA in Australia. Then, I came home to America thinking I would just jump into an MFA here. Boy, was I ever wrong. The discrepancies between the two countries' qualifications is huge, and I am now set to complete 3 more years of an American BFA just so I can get into an MFA and pursue my dreams of becoming an instructor. I would advise anyone considering going to school overseas to seriously think about their future plans and check into whether things will line up once they are finished. Having to eat 3 years of tuition is a hard thing, to say the least.

Other than that, I always tell people to follow their heart. If their passion is in creating, then go for it. I figure that if we're going to spend the majority of our lives working, we might as well do something we enjoy

EM: Is there anything else you would like to share?

CC: I strongly encourage people to hang on to their day job as long as possible. It is a great source of reliable income to get you through the rough patches, because there WILL be rough patches. I have seen multiple people in the last few years who have gotten raises, or started a different job, and decide to buy a house, or move, or make some other large purchase, only to lose that job, or that raise, and be financially stuck and struggling. If you are going to quit your day job, have LOTS of money in savings, or a very secure back up plan, because you never know what will happen.

Thanks Catherine!
Make sure to visit Catherine's Etsy shop and personal website!

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