Artist Survey


Friday, June 20, 2008

A few weeks ago, we asked if you would quit your job to become an artist. Your responses poured in, and we had the Opinion Research Corporation survey people across the country. Kurt unveils the results with ORC’s Joel Henkin, and we hear from listeners who made the leap.

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Joel Henkin

Comments [16]

Lynne Brotman from Northeast

I am an art quilter with an agenda - my art quilts cover subjects- social injustice, political dissent, spiritual awakening, environmental impact and personal experiences. I guess you would call me a member of quilting activists everywhere. I am enjoying the comments left by others. I did leave my corporate job behind to take up art quilting. It's a passion.

Oct. 26 2010 12:00 PM
Jennifer from Vancouver, BC

I was amazed that so few (non-Studio 360 listeners, that is) would leave their job for the (unlikely) chance to earn the same in an artistic pursuit. I guess I just hang out with the kind of people who would. I'm a graphic designer trying to commit to becoming a full-time fine artist - from a family of professional fine artists, and 14 years of showing part-time in galleries - and yet it's still a huge step and big risk to take that I probably wouldn't be doing without the support of my husband. But I wonder if increasingly starving artists are going to be able to make a living, between skyrocketing expenses, bleak reports for the economy and the next generation's mindset on copyright and "free" content they can always get from the Internet.

Aug. 14 2008 06:29 PM
clark whittington from winston-salem, nc.


i occasionally long for a return to a "cubicle". for me, this usually consisted of new equipment, easy workload and decent pay.....while somebody up the corporate food chain absorbed the heat.

however, the bad stuff is somehow left out of this soft focus nostalgia. i should go back and work a month to refresh my memory.

clark whittington

Aug. 10 2008 02:43 AM
Brooke Larm from singapore

I was forced to quit my job in order to move to Singapore so that my husband could follow his dream and teach in Asia. I wasn't particularly attached to my job; I was a TA at my daughter's elementary school. It wasn't a career, it was just a way to keep the tuition down. But coming to Singapore meant that I wouldn't have a particular purpose, other than keeping the house afloat. I decided before I left the states that I would work on my art - I'm an art quilter. It took some time to get myself comfortable in the new culture before I could actually get any work done, and then not until I set myself the goal of making a quilt a week was I able to commit to being an artist. Now my goal is to prepare myself to return to the states as an artist, and be able to support my family as much as possible in that vocation. What I really don't want to have to do is return to the workforce after devoting myself this way for nearly, well, it will be 4 years by the time we return.
But the interesting thing is that I would not have gotten to this level of commitment without being forced out of the workforce and into a foreign culture in the first place. I came grudgingly, but I realize that being here has made me into what I've always wanted to be, but always allowed other things to distract me from being. I'm very blessed. Call it an enforced sabbatical, I wish every artist had this opportunity.

Jul. 29 2008 04:21 AM
Gerry Schramm from New Jersey

I've been writing a comic strip called Blood Culture Starring Edgar the Red Blood Cell for 11 years, and if I could be guaranteed to make my current salary writing the strip I would quit tomorrow. My job, not the strip.

And if you're interested, the strip can be found in 2 places:


Jun. 30 2008 12:39 PM
Ken Fisler from Northeast Ohio

For several years-- decades ago-- I worked as a (nonfiction) writer, was published weekly for one periodical and monthly at another and sporadically in a few others. I even placed third in an international poetry competition. The pay just wasn't there though. There was never enough to cover bare living expenses. Though it seems that American society appreciates art more now than it did back then, the American government has cut back quite drastically on arts funding (not that I ever received even a dime from them), and in other ways being published and paid writer is even more difficult. Excellent musicians and painters I've known have said the same. Yet, as Ghandi said in another context, yes, it's futile, but you still have to do it.

Jun. 28 2008 06:34 AM
Ryan from Los Angeles, CA

For the last 13 years I have been a professional magician. The life of an independent artist is not all it's cracked up to be. Between irregular paydays, no health insurance, endless traveling and the constant hustle of booking gigs I was really happy when I finally got a day job.

Since becoming gainfully employed I've been free to have my art be My Art and not worry about how often I work or how much I get paid for it.

Consequently, I'm growing more as a performer now than I had in the 10 years previous.

Jun. 26 2008 08:45 PM

I have been trying for years to work up the courage to leave my job working for NASA to become an artist. My training is in art and I have always felt like a bit of an imposter as an engineer. However, I have recently given up this dream realizing that if I wanted to be an artist that bad, I should have done it by now. So I guess the answer would be no since I lack the will to follow through with my convictions.

Jun. 26 2008 07:50 PM
Nanci Hamicksburg from Lincoln, NE

Whatever creative streak I possess is emphatically NOT in "the arts". I have nothing "to say" that is transferable to a canvas, sheet music, dance or the written word. My creavtivity is used up just making my life work as the mother of triplets, observant member of a minority religion and a far left leaning political junkie. My creavtivity is acted out as eccentricity, just being who/what I am and happily working as a scientist for Corporate America. This is enough creative expression for me!

Jun. 26 2008 05:07 PM
Meredith Skrzypek (sha-PECK) from San Francisco

Even if the opportunity presented itself, I wouldn't leave my job to become an artist. How many times have I heard that someone wants to be an artist or writer and then, when I ask them if they've gone to any first-time artist openings or first-time novelist readings lately, the response comes back, "Er, no." I think the world needs people to consume some of this art, not another person who desperately wants to share her inner vision (a vision that can often turn out to be a bit amateur anyway). I'm happy to be that person.

Jun. 25 2008 12:28 AM
Marc J. Barr from Murfreesboro, TN

In a heartbeat.

Jun. 22 2008 08:00 PM
jon rappleye from jersey city

I have been working as a full time studio artist for the past 2 years,I make painting/sculpture/installation. leaving my job was the best thing I ever did, it gave me the freedom and license to make my work without the interruption of a daytime job. I know that it can be a risk but i have never been happier, what could be better, doing what you love and making a living doing it, and I am my own boss.

Jun. 22 2008 07:35 PM
sara Harding from brookline

great topic - i just spoke to a musician about this today. i left an environmental office job to be the manager of a bead store full time (so i could be immersed in my passion of jewelry design). if i made enough money just in design, i would leave my "job" and just create all day. i don't know how i'll ever be able to afford to buy a home, but at the very least, i'll be trying my darndest to follow my passions as far as they will financially take me! good luck to all my fellow artists out there :-)

Jun. 21 2008 07:48 PM
Maureen Supple from Littleton, CO

I just finished listening to the results on the podcast, and I must say I'm amazed that so many folks would want to keep the jobs they have! I am fortunate to have "retired" from software development when I started my family, and now I devote a lot of time to the creative pursuit of quilting - but for no pay so far!

Jun. 21 2008 01:49 PM
Laura from NY

I had a similar conversation 1 week ago with a Friend. He is a graphic designer and I work in research and he couldnt believe that I "like" my job. People consider me a very creative person,I love art in most of its expresions, I love to do "installations", and people says my home is original and kind of crazy and that I should work on a "creative" field, but that is my hobby, as a Job I rather work with numbers, I love numbers, I love research, calculation, statistics and I know is hard to believe but I am happy with my geeky job and I also think you can be creative in any field. I would not change career to be an artist, even for the same money. By the way I love your show! Ciao

Jun. 21 2008 10:58 AM
Tabitha morris from los angeles

I am an "emerging artist". I have an MFA and a load of debt. My first solo show is coming up next month. I have dreams of being able to pay off my debt and supporting myself through my art, but I am not terribly optimistic. Being an artist means accepting a life of uncertainty and self-doubt, there is no security. You have to be disciplined and focused and it is not for everyone. It IS a full time job, and not everyone is fit to manage the lifestyle. Money comes sporadically, if at all. Keep the day job.

Jun. 20 2008 02:48 PM

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