Do Artists Really Need Day Jobs?

When someone graduates with a degree in business administration, they’re pretty clear about how they’re going to pay their bills. By working in business administration. But what about a screenwriting graduate?

The majority of working professionals are lucky enough not to be split between their “day/survival jobs” and their “real career.” They’re unfamiliar with the strange double lifestyle of aspiring artists. But is it necessary to go through the trials and tribulations of finding the perfect back-up plan?

Let’s take a look at some reasons why this type of thinking might be obsolete.


Most survival jobs promise no gold mine

If the primary impetus behind survival job hunting are the financial rewards, one may need to reevaluate if their time and effort investment is worth it.

It’s become a social norm for actors/musicians to seek employment in local restaurants and bars as waiting staff or hosts/hostesses. The sad reality is that these kind of jobs often demand over-long hours of underpaid work – not to mention that their repetitive and “no previous experience needed” nature is diametrically different from what a performer’s soul is hungry for. Budding actors tend to go down this road because it’s deeply rooted in our society – but are they right to?

It’s a social construct

Everyone knows the ancient myth of the “starving artist”. Young artists are being persuaded on a daily basis that becoming a working artist is extremely hard. They’re told there are years of rejections ahead of them, so they better look for income somewhere else.

Isn’t this just instilling the wrong mindset in young creatives? Telling them upfront they’re going to fail. It’s time to eradicate the misconception that it’s nearly impossible to earn a living as an artist.

Actors are the worst off. You can find hundreds of articles offering them advice on what other job they should look for. However, you don’t find similar pieces of advice for electrical engineers on the internet. There are even websites specially dedicated to actors’ survival.


Ultimately, you are what you do

If like attracts like, then your survival-jobbing can bring more survival jobbing situations into your life. Which is not a bad thing if that’s your priority.

If an actor takes a day job just to support them until they make it, what is the notice period? Wouldn’t it be more effective to use that notice period trying to actually make money as an artist? In other words, plan B may distract you from plan A and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Research by the scientists at the University of Zurich supports this idea: ”…efforts put into developing a back-up plan may be the factor that causes failure of plan A.”

So what’s the solution? According to Catherine Orer, you can follow one of two paths:

“Option #1: Keep your passion as a hobby and suck it up at your day job.


Option #2: Make a personal, professional and financial plan, push through resistance and turn that passion into a thriving business.”

Just flex your creative muscles and think twice before you plunge into your next easy-to-get back-up solution. And whatever you solution is: good luck!


Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.