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Aside from the fact that most artists scorn noncreative jobs in general, sometimes freelancing and selling ones art cannot always pay the bills. So, the question arises as to what types of employment an artist should seek out in the meantime. So, pros and semipros and whoever else, before 'success', what are past and/or recommended jobs for those of us who 'aren't there yet'?
I've worked as a cashier at a flea market, a do-this-and-that at a sign design/construction job (meaning I did everything from pick up trash in the trailer we worked in, to peeling vinyl for the signs), a sales clerk at an antique store (where I also participated in on-site real estate sales), a florist (where I worked the register, tended to the plants/flowers, and designed arrangements), and an illustrator at a t-shirt design company (my current employment).
All of my work experience, with the exception of the job I took at the flea market vendor, was explored because I felt I could either express myself creatively in some way, or retain knowledge of business, sales and customers that may benefit me in future endeavors.
I think it may be detrimental to an artist's "spirit" (meaning their lust for art, and subsequently, life) to be stuck in a hot, greasy environment flipping burgers for minimum wage, so I'd recommend seeking out jobs that you feel will somehow reward you for your services- not just financially (because that's rarely the case), but through stimulation, or inspiration. When I worked at the antique store, I'd have days were I felt I'd die from boredom, where as other's I'd explore the treasures that'd fall into my hands through the manager, or other customers, and think of stories, people, and places, which would eventually inspire and motivate me (this job also alloted me free time to draw and paint, as we were rarely ever that busy). The florist job taught me to cope with situations and people I'd otherwise walk away from, which is mandatory when working in a professional field. You should never let anyone treat you like dirt, but having the tact to deal with someone who does can be a priceless commodity in future circumstances.
Look around, and ask other employees how they feel about the jobs you're scoping out. If you need the money, don't be proud... if you don't, find something you feel will benefit you in some other way.
I've heard many opinions on this, and the one that I personally like the most is to find a job which you can deal with but will ultimately keep you pushing towards your goals as an artist. In other words, it's dangerous territory to get something too comfortable because you need to keep motivated to ultimately leave that job for what you're really interested in doing. some would argue to get the shittiest job you can stomach just so you don't lose sight of your goals.
I have a friend who used to work the night shift at the front desk of a large bed and breakfast which, though the hours were crap (midnight to 8am), left him a good 5-7 hours of solid drawing time on the clock. I even went and drew with him a couple times during his shift. Seemed ideal for an emerging artist to me.
A job to sit around a bit. Like a security guard maybe. I've done that before a couple of times. Easiest job in the world. And then, I can draw WHILE working. Next best thing to drawing FOR work.
If anyone's interested in some free electronic art/drawing books, check out my blog: