CIU 111 – Reflective Blog – Your income and your art (aka, Who Wants to be a Millionare)

(I’m sure that, given my delay in posting these blogs, that an enterprising classmate will have beaten me to this particular musical pun, but no matter)

Who wants to be a millionaire? The song may say “I don’t” but let’s face it, it’d be pretty nice if I was. In fact, given that I intend to win the lottery next week, this blog is something of a moot point right now.

All joking aside however, the creative world has always had rather a fraught relationship with money. We’re either not getting enough of it -the starving artist stereotype is a very old one – or we’ve gone and ‘sold out’ by earning too much of it.

It seems like we just can’t bloody win sometimes.

Ignoring the statistically unlikely proposition of a magical injection of a lot of cash however, and no matter what our thoughts on the relationship that money should have with the arts, there remains the rather sticky fact that we all need to eat, and preferably have enough left over to pay the bills. Given that we’ve chosen to make our moolah from the creative industries, this leaves us with a couple of choices.

Firstly, and probably the most despised, but realistic: get a day job. It sucks, and you’ll probably hate it (hello, retail!) but there is something comforting about a reasonably reliable paycheck coming in.

A lot of us dream about winning the employment lottery and landing a job with a big studio (and preferably a big name – personally, I’m gunning for Disney or Pixar, I’m not going to lie.)

While this is technically far more likely than having those six numbers come up in your favour – studios, you can actually influence, through contacts and an excellent portfolio – it’s far, far more likely that we’re going to end up either animating mascots for advertisement companies – my animation class will know what particular mascot I speak of – or putting together character animations for small, mobile games companies.

(Actually, I’m no snob. I could happily do that for a decent paycheque)

It’s also a possibility that you could be employed by one of these companies, just not as an animator. I speak from my own experience (animator, who ended up doing a bunch of work doing photo-retouching for clothing companies) when I say that you really shouldn’t discount the possibility of working as an illustrator, or concept artist or any kind of asset maker. It might be boring, it might not be what you dreamed of (digitally repainting makeup on model’s faces was certainly no dream of mine!) but money is money, and you should get it where you can.

If working for the man doesn’t appeal to you however, there are a myriad of ways you can work for yourself – each coming with its own advantages and disadvantages. You could go the crowdfunding route, or you could freelance, and take on commissions, or – and this does depend on what field you’re in – you could sell product. Like working for an employer though, you’re far more likely to succeed if you look at avenues outside the scope of your discipline. Instead of drawing many frames for an animation for example, you could take one of those drawings, clean it up, and there you have a workable illustration, that could be sold as a print. That storyboard could be turned into an interesting graphic novel. Those 3D models you’ve been messing around with? There’s these magic 3D printers that might just turn those into collectable statues.

I think what I’m trying to say – and I should point out here that I’ve actually come up with some ideas for things I could do myself – is that the best way to make money in any of our various industries is that the best thing you could do is to be flexible, and think outside the box.

(and remember to put the lotto in!)

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