WEIGH IN: Studio 360 Survey

Friday, May 30, 2008

If you had the skills or talent to switch jobs and your career -- right now -- to become a musician, painter, filmmaker, actor, singer, playwright or novelist, and you would earn at least as much money as you do now, would you do it?

Comments [111]

Carol Lindsay from Omaha, NE

Don't limit us to arts! My husband and I are betting it all on a career in archaeology. Actually I'm already a writer and supporting him in his academic pursuits. It's been scary cutting costs and living on one salary, but the dream is worth it.

My future is history.

Jun. 19 2008 06:35 PM
Jennifer from GA

I wouldn't need to pursue a discipline if I already possess it. It's not like I think that working at a "cirque" or painting murals or "cake decorating" will make me a better artist - it would just be giving me a way to write off my insanity with the mask of discipline. My career an artist has lavishly accomodated me without having a bit of training. By carrying out a facade and possibly taking advantage of others for loans or to pay my bills or to buy me a house, or to pay for EVERYTHING, I continue to do very well. However, this doesn't apply to everyone.

Jun. 15 2008 11:12 PM
Joy from Charleston, SC

I would absolutely change jobs if I could be assured that I'd have the same income and benefits, but I would pick another field. I'm already a paid creative, but I'd like to try something outdoorsy and fun so that when I do design/illustrate, it would purely for my own enjoyment and not to earn a paycheck or please an audience.

Jun. 12 2008 04:06 PM
Stone Riley from Worcester, Mass

Fired from 30+ yr software craft career 5 mo ago (tho could say the shine wore off before) & no money saved & too old to get a new job doing that & 7 mo too young for Soc Sec benefits, squeeeking by on unemployment checks for max 6 mo doing this: every Monday file a form on-line to swear by penalties of perjury that I am, in fact, seriously seeking software craft opportunity in my old brain-clotting specialty (& can't be hard commute for old asshole like me w/ old fart med condition every goddam day) as if such opportunities were opportunities indeed and, in fact, existed. And yet we love this life. Wife (younger & employed thanks thanks) & me have scaled back to far more comfort than before. Now living in the lap of younger family, some of whom are prosperous & none of whom batshit insane!! Discovering the fun of sitting little kid relations!! This state has socialized medicine!! Our fine new diet: actual food, not too much, mostly plants & quit poison drugs already long ago. And brisk walks in the park. And we got a camp up in the mountain woods (rustic low low rent: nce tent w/ tble chrs chrcol grill & 2 cots in a friend's big forest valley lot where cars full of intellectual & creative Pagan Movement types congregate for Nature habitation, art various sorts & astonishing impassioned chat wkends summer)!! So now it's this: In the years that have begun, can my artwork avocation become the full true-heart vocation which I swore it could?

Jun. 12 2008 10:09 AM
amanda from binghamton, ny

Are you kidding? I would switch from admin. work to doing voice overs in a heartbeat if I thought I could support myself and my writer/actor/director husband. Unfortunately, right now, I've got the golden handcuffs on until he strikes it big. Luckily I can feed my creative jones via the "Studio 360" podcast at work so I don't feel my soul being crushed. *grin* Thanks for helping me keep my sanity!

Jun. 12 2008 09:34 AM
Elizabeth from Charleston, SC

An acquaintance of mine who is a talented performer works on a farm. He explained to me, when we first met, that he used to be a creative-on-the-clock, but that work mentally drained him to the point he couldn't really focus on his own craft. So he quit, took a job on a farm and now pursues his passion for performing on the side with complete freedom.

He's my hero.

I presently am very much where he was as a working creative. Yes, I'd switch jobs in skinny minute if I could do something totally different - if I could be outside, close to nature, doing something physically demanding (maybe for the park service or a zoo). Then, body spent, head clear and bills paid, I think I could really devote myself to my art with wild abandon, completely uninhibited, totally free!

Jun. 11 2008 07:02 PM
Dennis Lang from Minnesota

Fabulous question except as you can note from the multitude of comments it is a no brainer--too easy when income not an issue. I'm a baby-boomer,formerly an MFA candidate in Cinema, having owned and created businesses, attempting to launch second career as a freelance writer, tapping into all my curiosities. When my very first feature was published and awarded a rather prestigious nonfiction prize I figured this is really effortless. Only to discover it isn't--by a long shot. Now facing a growing personal economic challenge,can't decide if I've been terribly naive, or to take satisfaction in pursuing a first love and all I've learned so far in that pursuit.

Jun. 11 2008 11:56 AM
Lori Ettlinger Gross from Near NYC

I practiced law on and off for fifteen years and in 2001 switched careers and became a freelance writer. The decision took a day and the entire process (getting published) took about six months. I am now a jewelry historian and my work has appeared in The New York Times, Variety, and Palm Beach Illustrated; I also spent six years as a trade editor.
Would I switch careers today, this very minute? No. There isn't anything else I could do as well as what I do now, nor enjoy as much. I guess I feel that this is the work that is a natural (organic) extension of who I am.

My career has recently changed yet again in that my first book, Brooches: Timeless Adornment, was just published in May by Rizzoli. I have found that changing careers to be one of the best and most fulfilling choices I've made in my life.

Jun. 10 2008 05:15 PM
Jay from Ventura, CA

It's hard to imagine anyone listening to this show who would answer no to this question.

Yes! In. a. second.

Jun. 10 2008 03:11 PM
sally stryker from Nashville, TN

I did just this. I had a good paying corporate job that just didn't satisfy me. So at 29, I went to art school to study Graphic Design. After 3 years of working and going to school, I left the corporate world, and half my salary behind. It has been hard to adjust our lifestyle - but the happiness the new career brings me vs. the misery the old one gave has made it very worthwhile.

Jun. 10 2008 01:49 PM
Deborah from Wilmington, DE

True artists are not too concerned with the minutia of day-to-day. What makes an artist is their compulsion to do what they do. They do not have a choice in the matter, their art form is more like a force of nature than a choice to do their art.

Jun. 10 2008 12:32 PM
Kate from Starksboro, VT

I did it! I worked in advertising for almost 10 years first in Washington, D.C. and then back home in Vermont but as my career progressed, I started to feel unsatisfied and a little empty. So I pulled up stakes, ditched the ad world and went back to school to become a middle school French teacher. It might not be as glamorous, but it's a heck of a lot more meaningful to me...and tons more fun.

Jun. 09 2008 12:01 PM
andee from bowling green, ky

I would absolutely return to my life as an artist. I continue to do it when I have any free time, but the "9 to 5" really takes the life out of you in more ways than one sometimes leaving you little energy to dream and create. i wish we were valued for our ideas and not for how much we can respond to somebody else's demands.

Jun. 08 2008 08:58 PM
Suzanne from Cleveland

The real question is who would make the change for less? I would leave my job now to do anything else but what I am doing for the same amount of money. (I am in the mortgage business!) But to make the leap knowing you would actually have to make a sacrifice for the love of that particular artistic endeavor. Few have the courage. Those that do are the ones that make great art. It is for the unconditional love of creating something beautiful and amazing that they sacrifice with no expectation of a return on their investment; beyond the pure joy of whatever is created. I think you have to have that love to create. If you are not wholeheartedly committed it is not worth the effort.

Jun. 08 2008 08:49 AM
Kelly Lance from Las Vegas

Yes, of course, and that is what I have been trying to do for years. I have even gone back to school to try my hand at fine art. I can tell you this, there aren't too many almost 40 art students on campus, aren't we supposed to be realists by this age? My Co-workers say, "So, what are you going to do when you graduate, uh... with an art degree?" with reticence, I say, "This".

Jun. 07 2008 02:41 PM
kairos from Southwest

For years I've done my writing and visual art in the cracks of time I found while living the rest of my dutiful life. A scarcity of time to create always seemed like such a scourge; I imagined that the only thing standing between me and greatness was time and financial security. A few years ago I decided to test my hypothesis.

I invested well enough to quit my job and move into a (cliche alert!) light-flooded loft to paint and write ad nauseum. Only I didn't. To my surprise, I froze; I didn't know how to give myself permission to be that free. I felt enormous pressure to create. Over time I relaxed and produced some good work, but I never fully resolved the freedom/permission dilemma. (Freedom, my new scourge! Who knew?)

Today I'm back to squeezing in art between the cracks, but happily so, since unbidden gifts continue to flow into my life. I rediscovered my own creative imperative: whatever it takes, words or images will find expression. The corollary: the 25th hour often produces the most satisfying results. I've also reassessed my talent and ambition relative to full time, professional artists; I'm now exploring how to be their benefactor. Given my talent for fundraising and promotion, I can't believe I didn't see this before. And finally, I'm reminded that talent, like character, is revealed in the doing - not the contemplation -so basically, just do it.

Thank you for asking this question, Kurt, and to all who responded, I've loved reading what you shared.

Jun. 07 2008 12:30 PM
Evlyn from NYC

Studio 360 is one of the best shows around today! Thank you!

Living a life in the arts and being able to make a living doing it is one of the most rewarding lifestyles, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm incredibly grateful to be able to work in the performance world, but it wouldn't be nearly as rewarding if there weren't such brilliant external inspiration like that of WNYC and this show!

Living an inspired life is the best there is. Thank you!

Jun. 07 2008 11:22 AM
Sonia from Santa Barbara, CA

Absolutely. In fact I'm going to try now.

Jun. 07 2008 12:06 AM
Lynn from Chicago

I've always wanted to be an actor, and I'd definitely jump at the chance even for less money. to be able to fulfilla dream like that is reward enough, regardless of pay.

Jun. 06 2008 11:50 PM
Cliff from Left Coast

Does this question even need asking? Why would one not jump at the chance given these assurances?

I might not even bother to pack.

Jun. 06 2008 11:00 PM
Susie Watts from Walter Hill, TN

I am an artist and I would not want to do it for a living. It is my creative outlet that lets me escape the real world. I do not want it to become work, then it would no longer provide the relaxation and escape that it does now.

Jun. 06 2008 10:32 PM
Catherine McWeeney from New York, NY

I would revel in the discovery of Utopia and write a novel with every ray of sun, storm of wind, and torrent of rain and do so calmly without a plastic environment of snow cold economies.

Jun. 06 2008 09:54 PM
ken swiader from queens,ny

without a doubt.Why wouldn't someone do it? For me,it would be between a writer or a photographer, So,why choose? Become a photojournalist.

Jun. 06 2008 09:45 PM
Josh Vitello from Seattle, WA

Somebody made a good point. The financial uncertainty is huge, but the uncertainty around whether or not you have the talent to ever be successful, for me, is just as great. Of course, if the money was no object, I'd rather be trying to be a writer, than selling software. hmmm

Jun. 06 2008 05:45 PM
Bill Dumas from Toms River NJ

Right now there are so many avenues for a person to succeed at pursuing their muse. If there were more public interest it could almost be considered a new renaissance era for the arts. But a guarantee of succeeding would certainly make all the difference - because for many artists, whether they're an author, poet, visual artist, musician, filmmaker, whatever - we don't need to convince ourselves that we are talented. The challenge is convincing the rest of the world, and unfortunately the majority of the population still believes that they need to be told what good art is by some corporation. Therein lies the rub.

Jun. 06 2008 03:43 PM
lisa ormerod from san francisco

I struggled for ten years to live as an artist when it just got too hard and the money for the arts started drying up, in the 1990's. I still make small pieces and am involved in the arts, here and there. My heart has always been there and if I had an opportunity to return, it would be an easy decision to make.

Isn't this the dream of a lot of people?

Jun. 06 2008 11:04 AM
Joey from NYC

I think every day about how if I hadn't taken out $60k of loans for my BFA, I could quit my day job to write and make music and films, which are currently confined to nights and weekends. As it is, my debt keeps me chained to a full time day job. I have friends that ignore their loans, but that would saddle my mother with them, which I don't want either.
The moral is, get your undergrad degree for as little as possible and live the life you want!

Jun. 05 2008 04:52 PM
Michael Murray from Homer, Alaska

I heard this show this A.M. on KBBI public radio Homer. I was an art education major with industrial arts minor in college back in the late 60's. Being practical and raising a family (while in college) I had to make a living and I was informed painting and sculpting were not the way (as Dad would say - your art is nice but you have to have a job). After 30 plus years of being in the education field K through university level (never hired as an art teacher by the way)I retired and now have converted an old abondoned school east of Homer, Alaska into a home and studio space (my ground level "loft") and am attempting to be the writer, musician and artist I put partially aside while earning a living as a teacher and principal and putting kids through school. I titled one of my early shows as "the road not taken". I have the advantage of having a retirement income as I would likely be very hungry if I depended on my art sales.

In answer to your question - if I could would I... I answer "you bet!" In the back of my thinking (mind) I always considered art, music, creative writing as "the basics" - they open the world to so many possibilities and observations.

Not to belabor this much longer - you have to make time for yourself to do these things as people often see you as "retired" and available for their projects and still do not look on the art you're producing as "work" (or as I like to think of it "my passion").

Jun. 05 2008 02:31 PM
Scott Miller from Homer, Ak

I did it. In 2001 I quit my job as a draftsman, moved to Alaska and taught myself woodcarving. I am now a working artist although making a lot less than I did in my 9-5. Wouldn't have been able to make it happen without the support of my wife who has a "real job". So, get yourself a supportive spouse and jump in with both feet.

Jun. 05 2008 02:05 PM
Phil from Baltimore

Yes and no. I develop software/hardware systems which is a very creative, satisfying process. It has allowed me to create Art, write games, help people make informed decisions, and even get fit. It's a lot of fun.

I've worked for myself and others, and each has its merits and each has its drawbacks - mainly manifesting the balance between control and money. That being said, working for people has allowed me to develop the skills that I can apply to projects that are my own particular self-expression. I doubt that I would be as "talented" without that background.

But with the financial support that the job provides comes a lack of "hunger" that helps to drive the artist forward. It's easy to get complacent.

Maybe it's time to work on those landmine-clearing robots again...

Jun. 05 2008 08:56 AM
Lauren from Ann Arbor

In a heartbeat. Ever since I was a wee one on the stage for a Christmas pageant, it has been my dream to be an actress. Spending my adolescence visiting places like the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Creede Repertory Theater only confirmed it. Never do I feel more alive than when I am on stage. Hollywood at times gives acting a less than stellar image (as compared to my current "scholarly" position as a history grad student). But that is not what kept me back. Ahh, your promise of enough talent is the greatest promise.

Jun. 04 2008 05:02 PM
Erin from Brooklyn, NY

This is all I think about here at my job... the complete bliss of writing and performing my songs full time and the moment I could feasibly call myself a professional musician.

Jun. 04 2008 03:02 PM
I R from Herndon, VA

Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.

I'm a visual artist and I make a decent amount, but I'd drop it all to be able to make music forever.

That being said, if I had grown up making music, I bet I would give up music to be able to make a living drawing, painting and designing.

Jun. 04 2008 02:58 PM
Mike White from Detroit, MI

Hellz yes. Though I may be doing what I like with my "day job," it's the pay that keeps me there rather than pursuing my life's passion.

Jun. 04 2008 11:47 AM
Andrea from Glenwood Springs, CO

If, as a photographer, I could make a positive difference in environmental, social and economic issues, I'd change in a heart beat.

Jun. 04 2008 07:57 AM
Lynette from Fullerton, CA

Yes, yes, yes, of course!! Having dabbled in acting and playing the piano (and even some writing), I can't think of anything more enjoyable than being in the creative process more hours of the day. And that is after making a big career change a few years ago which gives me the opportunity of being more satisfied professionaly than I ever have been in my life. I will continue these art forms in my spare time.

Jun. 03 2008 03:42 PM
Brian from Detroit, MI

I have been a Computer Programmer for 20 years. I am currently going back to school to earn a Masters degree to be a School Guidance Counselor. Changing careers is not a "if" for me. I will change. The one big thing I need to prepare myself for is the fact that I will have my income cut in half, but it will be worth it.

Jun. 03 2008 11:25 AM
Kake from Oregon

If I could get the training and had enough money to fall back on I would become a film editor. I did a little of it in college and loved it. But that was long ago (in the days of 16mm and heat bonding). What I enjoyed was making a story from visuals, finding the best way for them to go together and seeing the many different ways for a story to be told. I loved sitting alone in the dark, cranking the frames slowly through the viewer. I loved all the long, hanging tails of film on each side of me.
I guess that what I really want to be is a film editor in 1915.
sigh. There's never a time machine around when you need one.

Jun. 03 2008 12:57 AM
matt from Tempe AZ

I work as a web designer, which is fun. It provides me with unique problems to solve everyday. However, something occurred to me one day. If the world was to get rid of computers tomorrow I would be screwed. So if I could switch careers to something I love... I would be a bicycle builder. Welding frames, building bikes and getting grease all over my smock. It is a skill that I would love to have and I am sure, in a world without computers, the world would love for me to have it.

Jun. 02 2008 06:04 PM
Justin from Dayton, OH

I would, to become a writer. In fact I have recently lost my job and my wife and I have decided that it would be best for me to stay home and be an "at-home-dad" and write, or at least give it a try. So we have decided to live on less, and I have started to write. But it would be nice to earn something along the way.

Jun. 02 2008 01:33 PM
dean wynveen from seattle

In the land of art stars and big cars its a laughable question. The market takes care of the answer, right? If you want to be an artist leave your cynic self at the door please-thank you. Stay up-beat! Become a business person/artist...get a third job. For a few of us still, money is NOT the deal. Its there, but is NOT the deal. Ah, but if only I could land that auto-commercial deal, book deal, film deal, ad infinitum. I'd be sitting pretty won't I. Something is needed inside. Can you in solitude paint for 12 hours? 3 hours? 1 hour? I'm almost satisfied being the artist that I am. Working a day job for my health insurance. Thank you.

Jun. 02 2008 12:48 PM
Shane Shellenbarger from Phoenix, AZ

What is the downside? If I could pursue my creative interests and be paid what I earn in my day job, why wouldn't I switch? Many of us are attracted by the security of a steady income, medical benefits, and all the other "carrots" a regular job holds before our snouts.

Kurt Anderson should ask Harlan Ellison about the time he tried to conform and got a "real" job, back in his early New York days.

Jun. 02 2008 11:51 AM
Kellian Clink from Mankato, Minnesota

I'm so LUCKY because I adore my job, but I can take free classes all I want and I take art classes. I just like DOING it a little (and I have only a little talent) but I love my job as a librarian. I do think the people I know who do it professionally don't do it so much because they love it but because they're compelled to write, paint, etc.

I SO LOVE the show!

Jun. 02 2008 11:25 AM
hbd from Pawcatuck CT

Raised by an artist and a chemical engineer, I've no shortage of creativity and inspiration. At 48 I have just left my job as an elementary classroom teacher to pursue painting, drawing, and printmaking full time. Decision was easy after nervously staring up into the bright lights of an operating room and realizing, "I've been worrying about the wrong things" Great to read the other e-mails with success stories.

The same steady paycheck would be great. But I'd have done it 10 years earlier if someone said equal health benefits rather than equal pay.

Jun. 02 2008 10:35 AM
Taina Bundshuh from SE Michigan

I majored in Fine Art to begin with, then transfered into art education to make a living. I teach k-12 art in a small rural district and, with 12 years until retirement, I am thinking about my next career. Reading these responses I have two thoughts.
1. I feel good directing students that love art to follow their passion into the arts, knowing that they can earn a living at it. 2. I feel good knowing that so many others are retiring from or leaving 'financially stable' jobs to pursue their arts careers and loving it, and I hope the same will be true for me.
Thank you for some inspriration today.

Jun. 02 2008 10:20 AM
JLou from Philadelphia

I'd skip out on my job as a liberal arts professor in a heartbeat to play jazz piano - if only I were talented enough! I love teaching and I love my students, but that's such a tiny portion of my job now. Mostly I spend my time attending meetings and writing documents dealing with university governance. Yuck. Is this what I spent all that time getting a PhD for?

At least I can play my drums in what little spare time I have!

Jun. 02 2008 09:16 AM
Norm Cratty from Chicago

Yes, absolutely. When I attended South HIgh School and UNO (I, too, am a fellow Omahan!), I wanted to be employed in the record business and wanted to be a graphic designer of record covers. At UNO I got a degree in Broadcast Production and excelled in radio. However, I am making money in the legal industry and am singing in various choral groups on the side. I would absolutely love to perform on stage professionally and be paid well for it.

Jun. 02 2008 06:42 AM
Miles Eastman from los angeles

Yes, I am doing just that, and I can say it is worth it. We spend the majority of our time at work, so we must take that time seriously, and choose to spend it doing something that excites and enriches our lives. Sculpting is that for me, and has provided some incredible opportunities. I have just returned from showing some work at SOFA EXPO NY, I have studied in Italy and more. It is doable. Think of the money you will save on doctor bills, medications, and therapy if you are spending most of your life exploring the world in ways that move and excite you. perhaps a pay cut is the bonus. Creating new challenges that shape your destiny.
Do life!
- Miles Eastman

Jun. 02 2008 04:07 AM
sharon baker from st. paul, minnesota

are you kidding?!?!?!
for a time, i did work freelance as an audio engineer, but that made it difficult to be in the several bands i used to be in, back in the "day." audio stuff sometimes paid well, but sometimes involved way too much heavy lifting, which is not so much fun after a certain age. music never made me much money, but most of us don't do it for the money. being a full-time musician able to support myself playing music was what i always wanted as far back as i can remember.
i enjoy writing as well, though it's mostly travel stories and journaling.

Jun. 02 2008 03:48 AM
Karen from Snohomish, WA

Yes!! I'm a bit old (60) to start a new career but if I could support myself in a creative endeavor I would definitely do it. Just thinking about this is liberating!

Jun. 02 2008 01:51 AM
Sarah from Portland, OR

Nope, I wouldn't switch. I'm on my way to a career in environmental law. While I accept that music, literature and the arts can change the world, it's either not fast enough or not drastic enough for me.

Jun. 02 2008 12:59 AM
Jeff from PDX

I am a 44 yr old Sculptor, trained as a glass blower and blacksmith. I am currently painting and carving wood. I never really made a splash as far as sales of my work. I work as a laborer and support my wife and kids with a spare existence. My art is still my life consuming love, and I will not be left wanting more when I die in the arms of my muse.

Your question left me sad for those who are not rich in the loves this brief life offers.

Jun. 02 2008 12:54 AM
sarah from washington

Well, of course.
I was just talking to myself about this earlier today, and had been every day for the past 5 years. The conversation has been convincing, I have the motivation and the skills. What I need is the time AWAY from my current job to put the adequate time and energy into starting my dream.
My heart beats extra fast when I think of this.
This was a silly question.. Who wouldn't want to.
But I am so happy I heard you ask it. You made it more real for me. I can do this! Thank you

Jun. 01 2008 11:29 PM
Adam Gallardo from Salem, OR

In fact, I have quit my steady day job for a two-fold purpose. I'm going to take care of my new-born son, and I'm going to work on my nascent comic-book-writing career. It's scary as Hell, but I think it's going to be entirely worth it.

Jun. 01 2008 11:29 PM
Julie Combs from Long Beach, CA

Of course I would. I have been playing that fantasy in my head for years! I am currently struggling with myself to finally follow one of my dreams, after all these years (I am almost 50!).

Jun. 01 2008 10:24 PM
Eric from Santa Monica, CA

It's a hard question. On the one hand, I'm an engineer working in the space sector. I get to solve one-of-a-kind problems and tell people I work on very cool high-profile projects. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to communicate to people what I do and what it means at a deeper level, and insofar as that it's almost a lonely career. To be able to switch to a field where I could share what I make more wholly would be more fulfilling in very personal ways, but I think I would miss the challenge of the problems I tackle on a daily basis. In the end, I think it would be a wash.

Jun. 01 2008 10:09 PM

absolutely. i miss the freedom of creative writing. there are way too many policies in my current field. i've been toying with the idea of going for my MFA in creative writing. great discussion thread.

Jun. 01 2008 10:07 PM
Scott from Brooklyn, NY

I have had a life-long serious hobby of photography and if the situation changed where I could meet expenses doing that, I would give up my day-job without hesitation.

Jun. 01 2008 10:05 PM
Steve Cook from Ventura, CA

I did make the change from senior management to artist in October 2006. Since then I have been frantic in trying to be productive and creative and love what I do all at the same time. It worked and I can truly say that it was the best move that was ever forced upon me... my job was eliminated when my company was outsourced to China. You can see my art at www.stevecookfineart.com

Love your show every Sunday evening on KCRW. No TV so this is our connection to whatever is out there. Peace.

Jun. 01 2008 10:05 PM
Ken from Beverly Hills, MI

Absolutely! I have the skills to be an artist/illustrator and freelance at it occasionally, but I chose the conservative route 20 years ago to go into mechanical engineering rather than art school. I've been a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry for 15 years. Engineering has creativity as part of the job, problem solving, making understandable presentations, mechanical drawings, etc., but it's of a type that is not always appreciated as immediately as piece of art is. The steady pay has allowed me to take some art classes and purchase the traditional and digital tools of an artist, but my career has gradually eroded away at my personal time and energy to pursue more illustration work. So back to the original question, if I could have the same steady pay I have now and afford benefits, I would jump at it without hesitation.

Jun. 01 2008 09:39 PM
artdoiron from Louisville, KY

Absolutely, I am basically self employed now as a contractor so the idea of taking my day to day existence into my own hands isn't all that frightening. I am just doing it the long way? After a few diversions over the last few years (moving, married, graduate school,children)I'm hoping to start equalizing my money intake as an artist in the next few years. Here's hoping, www.jamesdoiron.com

Jun. 01 2008 09:16 PM
Taliah from brooklyn

I did. I quit my day job in 2000 and have been supporting myself from my artwork ever since.

Jun. 01 2008 08:05 PM
Mario from Chicago, IL

In a heartbeat! I already work in the arts as a design/creative director. But my real love is writing. I can do so in bursts with copywriting, etc., but it's not the same thing. Who wouldn't want to sit around all day indulging in reflections and piecing a story together?

Great question, and something I've been contemplating with a friend on a daily basis for a couple of years now. What the F am I waiting for?

Jun. 01 2008 07:54 PM
Alexandra Snow from California

Oh heck yeah. I've been writing for years anyway, on top of jobs. Am cutting back on my job and writing more now. The money may or may not come but time seems ever more precious.

Jun. 01 2008 07:10 PM
Chris from CA

Yes. I am in the process of doing that right now.

Jun. 01 2008 06:03 PM
Chris from new hampshire

In a heart beat. It's a great question, but I'm almost certain everyone would switch over because we wanna be artists are only doing the jobs we do to make ends meet while we pursue our true passions. So much time has gone by working jobs that have nothing to do with art. You better believe if I could do my passion and make some money doing it, I'd switch over.

Jun. 01 2008 06:02 PM

Well, considering I'm unemployed, I'd hope I'd make more money than I'm making now. But I wouldn't be an artist, I'd be a perpetual student. There's so much out there to learn about life.

Jun. 01 2008 05:01 PM
Paul Cusato from Cleveland Ohio

After 35 years of restoring old Jaguars, I made a decision a year and a half ago to close the shop Feb. '09 when my building lease runs up. I took a course in film making, and have partnered up with someone, and have made four short films in that time. (We only shoot on film, no video) One has already been in a small festival, and we are editing two of the other three. I hope to make a connection with someone on the festival circuit who may notice our talent, and at which time want us to do a feature project. I've rapidly made inroads with film people and companies, and I can only hope to morph into one career while exiting another. I've never been able to stick to a "real" plan until this happened, but after being in one occupation for this long, it was time to make a drastic change. For the first time in my life, I feel that this is what I was meant to be doing, and hope I haven't wasted too much time.

Jun. 01 2008 04:41 PM
Penelope Reedy from Pocatello, Idaho

Cont.. .

4. After turning 40, my marriage fell apart. I returned to university, moved 12 times in 12 years -- attended 3 colleges/universities, including Marquette U in Milwaukee. Back to Idaho and got my MA where I am now teaching.

5. But before the teaching job, I worked as a journalist for 6 years. Was very stressful. I won a decent award, but had personality conflicts with the managing editor. When the teaching job at ISU showed up, I was much relieved. I love teaching.

6. Even after leaving the full-time newspaper job, I was writing a popular newspaper column pretty regularly called MY PRIVATE POCATELLO, but the paper's $$$ ran out, so I stopped because I think my time is worth something.

7. Now I teach college English, garden, weave, spin, play piano for various things, read, play with grandkids, etc. I had a small art show last November titled ALL THE PRINT THAT FITS. I made weavings and collages using newspaper.

I'm in the process of planning another show for November -- working theme is "shrouds" . . .

The drive to do creative things is always with me. I've often wished I had more time, but never deprived myself of making/doing/involving. It's not necessary to be rich and famous, although that's how Americans measure success, unfortunately. I'm simply interested in keeping life interesting.

Cheers, Penelope Reedy

Jun. 01 2008 03:20 PM
Penelope Reedy from Pocatello, Idaho

The thing is, despite a series of peculiar jobs in my life from clerking for a toilet seat exporter to my present job teaching college English, I've always found ways to do creative things. I turn 61 Thursday, June 5. Here's a list of things I've done in my few short years:

1. Learned to play piano as a child growing up in rural Washington State. Moved to NYC after HS graduation and ended up hanging out with jazz musicians at St. Peter's Lutheran church, including meeting Duke Ellington. That world "rubbed off" on me, so now I play improvisational jazz dinner music at the local Pocatello country club, and real live "elevator music" at the local brew pub.

2. While married to an Idaho cattle rancher, raising four kids, I started a literary magazine titled THE REDNECK REVIEW OF LITERATURE, including printing, editing, etc., etc. and continued it for 20 years. It's a serious literary magazine featuring western American literature. Writers it attracted included Edward Abbey, Walker Percy and MFK Fisher -- It's archived now at Boise State University. (1975-1995)

3. While married to the rancher I taught myself how to spin and weave (and butcher chickens). Now that my teaching job gives me more time, I've revived the craft. Here's my web page:


--Penelope Reedy -- more coming . . .

Jun. 01 2008 03:20 PM
Jan from Hoboken

Actually, this is a very timely question for me as I've made a goal for myself this year to quit my day job and become a full time artist. I'm 55 years old and feel that if I don't do this now I never will. I don't know if I'll make as much money as I do now, though I really think it's possible. I've had work in a couple museum shows and have sold a few pieces. I'm going to try to get grants to help support myself while I put together a body of work. One gallery is interested and I'll be contacting more. I'm also hoping to move to Mexico within the next few years.

It seems to me that life is very short, so why should I spend it in a humdrum way when there's so much to see and do. I'm following a lifelong dream this year to travel to India as well. Can we afford it? Well, no, not really, but I'll probably never really be able to afford it but I want to go before I'm too old to get my hands dirty, know what I mean? It's like having a child, if people waited until they could afford one/could deal with being a parent, no one would ever have kids. Sometime you've just gotta jump into life with both feet!

Jun. 01 2008 02:57 PM
Library Monkey from Adirondacks

Not sure how this survey works, why would a person not want to be creative --- on the surface.. It is sort of like asking, "if you had the chance would you be a good parent?"

the answer is yes

the results don't always work that way

Jun. 01 2008 12:14 PM
The Clam


Jun. 01 2008 12:00 PM
Dyaprema from Pittsburgh, PA

I gave up up pursuing my art aspirations years ago because I was raised to put my family first. (Mom's favorite saying-Charity begins at Home) It has affected all my relations and I suffer deep depression because of it. I believed all successful artists had some magical mentor or benefactor to support them (many have and many do). Did I not have the talent or character to overcome the roadblocks? Don't know! If money were no object, I'd hope I would be covered in paint - painting huge canvases in a lovely loft! My dream.

Jun. 01 2008 11:50 AM
Bill F from Cleveland,ohio

Where's the downside? I pursue my talents as a composer in a heartbeat, and maybe a screenwriter, and since I could probably do that most anywhere, I would definitely move out of Ohio. It's sort of depressing to read these posts, and realize that the reason most of don't, or can't, pursue what we would like to do, is money. Pretty sad.

Jun. 01 2008 11:18 AM
Bill F from Cleveland,ohio

In a heartbeat. I'd pursue my talents, music writing, maybe write a screenplay, and get the heck out of this backward state. Where's the downside, wouldn't anyone do this? Pretty depressing, though, to see all these postings, and realize the only thing that keeps us doing what we're doing, and stuck where we are, is money. Very sad.

Jun. 01 2008 11:11 AM
mee from florida

in late-middle age, i'm trying to do that right now, having switched my day job to teaching art to children in order to get my stuff together to make my own art on into retirement in the next decade or so. it's still taking more than i have at present to sustain both, but at least it's just barely feasible instead of incomprehensible, as it had been for the previous few decades.

Jun. 01 2008 11:09 AM
Jennifer from Birmingham, AL

Absolutely. There wouldn't be any hesitation. I currently work in a hospital, which I enjoy, but I want more than anything to join the Peace Corps and help the less fortunate. I know there are people who need help here, but I want to travel and learn about other cultures and spend the rest of my life doing exactly that.

Ha! You wouldn't even have to pay me!! &=)

Jun. 01 2008 11:05 AM
Rose from Alviso, CA

I'd be doing art restoration-I didn't know when I was studying art so many years ago that I wasn't an artist but a fixer of art; a gluer of broken things, a matcher of color, texture and finish, a lover of the broken made whole. That's what I'd be doing if I could change my life. All things being equal, I'd be living in Italy or Egypt, Siberia or the Yucatan putting small pieces of mosaic back where they belong or cleaning the mud from frescos.

Jun. 01 2008 02:10 AM
Laura Hays from Berkeley, CA

Yes. I would be a percussionist with vocal contributions in local small musical combinations. What a fun survey.

Jun. 01 2008 01:33 AM
Curly Girl Glass Jewelry from Portland, OR

I did! Although I don't make nearly what I used to. Circumstances have allowed me to make jewelry full-time; to not have a "real job." I'm slowly building my business and it can be tiring, frustrating, and I work more now than I ever have (for the aforementioned not-nearly-what-I-used-to). That said, I love having the freedom to create everyday, to continue to learn my craft and to have people all over the world appreciating my art. I wouldn't want to give this up.
Now, about my lack of health insurance...

Jun. 01 2008 01:23 AM
Mary Flaherty from Sausalito, CA

Are you kidding?? In a heartbeat! And I love my job as a professional fundraiser. But if I could flip my life so that I spent all day writing novels and only took people out to chat them up and ask them for gifts when I felt like it, well, that would be just swell.

Jun. 01 2008 01:14 AM
Celeste Coit from Oakland, CA

Why, you guys have a gig for me?
Of course I would give up my job if I could make the same salary as an actress. If I had a better attention span I could probably make more than I do now. When I pursue acting with unwaivering focus I make decent money. But I can only keep it up for a short time. The heart break of severe ADD.

Jun. 01 2008 01:06 AM
Th. from El C, CA


Gracious. Who wouldn't?

Jun. 01 2008 01:00 AM
michael pina from Boston, Ma.

Ever since I was in high school I wanted to be an artist. I believed that great painters must know some secret magic or esoteric knowledge to make the masterpieces I saw in museums. I could always draw but when I did my first painting I was mesmerized. I wanted to go to art school but I was a good kid and bowed to my parents wishes to get a useful degree. Well, my useful degree wasn't and I've been chasing my dream ever since; part-time, full time, private and independent. After more than 20 years I'm getting close. All I need now is some luck.

May. 31 2008 11:45 PM
AJ Bouchard from Detroit, more or less...

You damn betcha, boy. If I could be making movies, and making at least as much as I do now (which ain't much), I'd grab it in a New York second.

May. 31 2008 10:18 PM
Ron from Marblehead, MA

Heck yeah! I chose to go to college for something that would make me money instead of becoming a writer. I think writing would have made me feel better. Now I feel like my creative juice has been wasted on the corporate compost heep. I live vicariously through my artist wife.

May. 31 2008 08:06 PM
Maurice from Cleveland, Ohio

Yes, I would leave this 'career' I've fallen into in order to pursue art full time. I would do it for less money and I would work longer hours with more passion.

May. 31 2008 06:34 PM
Lisa from Dallas, Texas

I already did it.
I left a very lucrative job in Info Tech to be a full-time painter. I make nowhere near as much as I made in my former job, but I have absolutely no regrets. I do have to work harder and longer hours, but I completely love what I do every day.

May. 31 2008 03:09 PM
Larry Tilley from Arlington Texas

In a heart beat, I would switch. I have be in a Data Processing related field since 1969. A good portion of that has inclided managing people.
Many years ago the wise woman I am married to decided I needed a hobby. A straight edge, a saw some wood and I built my first thing with wood and my hands. And I found it relaxing.
Now I have a son-in-law who is a fantastic woodworker. He puts me to shame, challanges me to do better, and praises my attempts.
I would switch in a heart beat.

thank you


May. 31 2008 03:08 PM
Bill Hinchberger from Brazil

I can and will. I once left conventional journalism (FT, BizWeek, etc.) to launch an award-winning travel website (http://www.BrazilMax.com). Now that my wife has passed away, I'm considering fiction - which is why I got into writing in the first place way back when.

May. 31 2008 03:00 PM
Lynn W

Oh god yes!!! I hate my job (as an attorney). I'd love to be able to spend all my time reading, writing, sewing, knitting, painting, playing music -- anything more creative than what I'm doing! But then maybe it wouldn't be as much fun if I had to make a living at it, even if it paid as much as I make now.

May. 31 2008 02:31 PM
Jim from Philadelphia

Indeed I would. Although I struggle to not allow myself to be trapped by regret or resentment thereby only staying stuck, I can't help but think of Langston Hughes query: what happens to a dream deferred? For me it was music. Career or not and not stardom but to play for others. Maybe in hospitals or retirement communities, in neighborhoods... but with others certainly and not as an isolated "hobby." Never too late, right? But on the eve of 60 I can't help but indulge thoughts of what might have been if not too shy, to afraid. Of what?

May. 31 2008 02:21 PM
Rob from Washington, DC

Hate to be a fly in the ointment, but isn't your show about the creative-minded individual? A survey of people who are interested in creative people would be much more inclined to want to become that type of person, would they not?

Maybe you should include a question regarding the current occupation of the responder to get a better survey.

Great show, as usual.

May. 31 2008 02:17 PM
Lee Herman from New York, New York

Absolutely NOT. I love what I'm doing - studying beetles.

May. 31 2008 01:29 PM
Freddy Jenkins

I do all right, but I'd probably be happier if I was a cartoonist/illustrator. With the arts you can move into a diverse range of fields.

May. 31 2008 12:53 PM
Vincent from Long Island, NY

Faster then the speed of light! Maybe.

When I was a boy my dad would often tell me "it's a lucky man who loves what he does for a living".

Now, fast burning out my second love - and career - and with only a few forced laps left on these prematurely bent and aching bones, his wisdom often comes to mind.

I never found the time or place to pursue my fist love, but wouldn't mind the chance even now to put on paper some of what I've lived and seen, even some of what I've done, or didn't have the time or courage to do.

I think now, as I have since I was a teen, that there just might be a story there.

But today as always, lacking the time, I still feel as though my stories would burst upon me given the chance. Or better say I hope they would, because I fear that if released this pent-up lifetime companion might turn out to be an empty urge, and nothing more.

And then I would be empty, and alone.

May. 31 2008 12:23 PM
CLH from New York

I started my own business to do what I love and I find that I spend a lot of my time administering the business and not doing what I love. And the funny thing is it makes me question if it is all worth it? Would I still be running my business if I had the resources right now to hire someone to administer it? And what it really comes down to is the talent, eveyone thinks its the money - which is important - but the talent is really what make a person love what they do. The sheer joy of doing something well and acheiving excellence is such a rush. You do that and the money comes.

May. 31 2008 11:21 AM
Jolly D from Watsit2ya, NY 9112U

Ahhh! to become a musician, painter, filmmaker, actor, singer, playwright or novelist, and you would earn at least as much money as you do now? In a heartbeat.
Are there any free drugs, alcohol, sex or yoga sessions involved? (Not necessarily in that order)

May. 31 2008 11:16 AM
alex from new york, ny

i recently quit my day job (design), to start a career making music full time (music for tv commercials). my salary is about 1/3 of what it used to be, and it was the best decision i ever made. i now don't dread going into the office.


May. 31 2008 11:08 AM
frank from NJ

Duh? Yes! Would Monday B soon enuf?

May. 31 2008 11:06 AM
veronica aiken

Absolutely! I would write... and work out of a ceramics studio. Life would actually be grand and worth getting up in the morning at long last...


May. 31 2008 11:04 AM
Emily Heller from New York

Wow, I am struggling with this decision right now, except for the money part of it. I was planning to go to grad school to get an MFA in photography but now my publishing job says we can build our own photo studio. Do I want to get paid to make mostly someone else's art or pay money to make my own art?

but yes, I would switch jobs in a heartbeat if I knew that I would be talented and make money.

May. 31 2008 11:04 AM
Birck Cox from Philly

I switched fifteen years ago from salaried employee (illustrator) to full time freelancer, and I work out of my house. So I'm doing what I love on my own terms, and my own time, and my morning commute is a barefoot walk from the bedroom to the kitchen coffeemaker to the studio. Would I switch again, to, say, drawing graphic novels, writing short stories, oil painting or printmaking?
At this point in my life I would have no choice-I am no longer capable of being anybody's employee. I can't manage people other than myself-and that only barely; I'm not a team player, unless the team is scattered all over the country, communicating by email and phone anytime between 8 AM and 10 o'clock at night (7PM PST). That's how it is now, and it's fine with me.

May. 31 2008 10:49 AM
Jim Tatro from Philadelphia

I would be tempted if I had the musical talent to move on to a new position but I love my job. I have taught agriculture education at Saul High School in Philadelphia for thirty years and love everyday of my job. I work with some of the best students in the world. I get to see students grow and have the pleasure of staying in touch with alumni over the thirty years I have been here. This job is so much more than just teaching the rewards of helping quide students through major decision making periods in their lives is amazing. So many students of today have challenges that students of my generation could not imagine; their strength in working through many of these difficulties is awesome. How could i ever give up a career like this. Studio 360, Saul High School in Philadelphia would be wonderful focus for one of your shows.

May. 31 2008 10:13 AM
JJ from Philadelphia

Yes, who wouldn't? You made it too easy, for me at least, by offering equal pay. I need the high-paying job right now to get my son through college. I actually have a 3-4 year plan to leave my job to paint full time, even though I am sure to make less money, at least initially.

May. 31 2008 08:38 AM
Carol from Philadelphia

YES, of course. What holds people back is self-doubt, but if with "skills or talent" guaranteed, there's no question.

May. 31 2008 08:01 AM
martha from Chapel Hill, NC

HELL YES. In a nanosecond.

May. 30 2008 10:18 PM
J. E. Brown from Los Alamos, New Mexico

Why yes! If I could, I'd drop everything else and write my book. I'm writing a reference book on relationships -- it's probably the only unique thing I'll ever create. (I always remember what Edsger Dijkstra said: "Do only what only you can do.")

May. 30 2008 12:11 PM
dakota lane from woodstock, ny

i am a young adult author and after my one-time acting stint --(directed by todd solondz to scream after my entire family was gunned down before me, a scene that never made it to the screen)--i'd say that the experience left me just as broke as being a young adult author, and yet
being directed and acting in front of others was somehow more wholesome than sitting hunched before a computer, directing shadowed fragments from my gestalt.
so yes, i'd switch now, tonight, so i can scream out loud instead of inside my head.

May. 29 2008 11:29 PM
Susan from Houston, TX

Expressing myself w/ words, showing the world what I see... magic! I would love to be a novelist... If I had the skill, if I had the security (single mother of two very spoiled dogs) I would stop my world, get off, and start my prose!! Wow! How exciting.

May. 29 2008 10:23 PM

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