Quitting the day job

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  1. #1
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    Quitting the day job

    Making this thread at the risk of sounding long-winded, self-absorbed and silly

    So as I'm sure is the case for many people here, I want to quit my day job and freelance until I build the credentials for a studio job (or maybe just keep freelancing if it goes real well, who knows). The only two problems with that of course, are that I need steady income, and I need to be pretty damn good at what I do.

    First the finances. For the time being, Rent+utilities=300, Student Loans=300, phone=90, groceries=150. Those are the essentials per month, all rounded up, and rounding up again that's $850 per month. I also like to buy GNC products for working out and spend maybe $100 a month on those, but that's not essential, and if misc costs come up I can cut from that if need be. (I don't have a car and I'm on my parents' health insurance, so I don't think I'm forgetting anything...)

    Now, I don't expect to make that just starting off, but I have a from home job that pays 1k a month if you do 20 hours a week. So that should barely cover necessities... that's not particularly safe, but it would free up 20 hours a week from the day job, plus 40 minutes a day travel (and I could potentially watch educational vids while I work), and as (hopefully) my skill level and work load increases I could slowly cut hours from that.


    The other part of it is whether I can even get work yet. I've done a few small freelance jobs in the past after sending out tons of applications (which I'm aware is part of the process), but nothing substantial... I think it would definitely be rough going at first. If I had to grade myself I'd say my work has competence, but doesn't quite leave a professional impression, and is still years away from displaying mastery of any kind. I'm just hoping it's enough to get by as supplementary income at first, maybe a couple hundred dollars a month averaged out.


    My day job is fairly easy, close to my home, and pays as well as I can expect (10/hr), so I don't want to needlessly throw that away if the time isn't right yet. It's just that I feel really uneasy being there all day when I see younger artists than me completely kicking my ass and getting work (I'm only 23, but still, I need to improve more rapidly than I am now)

    This isn't intended to be my portfolio review thread (though I won't stop you ), more of a someone stop me before I do something stupid thread.

    This also isn't supposed to be my own personal "solve my problems for me, CA!" thread, so if anyone is having the same thoughts, or has experiences to share, well, speak up!



    tl;dr: trying to decide if i should quit my 40 hr job for a 20 hr job that will cut it extremely close paying bills, but i can draw a lot more and work on a freelance career, as supplementary income at first

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  3. #2
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    Your signature says you're currently looking for work, and not in demand. Shouldn't you build up your work level a bit up first before working in an area that is a bit more based on demand?

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  5. #3
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    I don't think you should quit your day job until you are consistently making enough money off of art to live. Even established professionals have dry spells where they get little to no work.

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  7. #4
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    With me it's like: a steady job seems so safe and predictable, but then I act crazy and mess it up. I have to look for crazy in my life. "Know thyself" is my answer. And I have fought hard to live normally while my mind is doing somersaults.

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  9. #5
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    You are never going to have less responsiblity than you do now. If you can make it and art is what you want to do... do it. If you wait until you're married and have kids you won't be able to take any chances. It can happen faster than you think.

    When I was twenty I had job offers from game companies that would have launched me into a professional career. I was in college and wanted to focus on a science career. By the time I realized that art was what I really wanted, I was already married with kids. I've spent years trying to get back into it, working 10hrs a day in construction (cause the money was better than lab work) and sleeping 5hrs a night so I could paint. I just recently made my play for what was basically handed to me when I was young.

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    A couple of things: in my experience, whenever I cut things tight (financial-wise), something ALWAYS comes up that blows it out of the water. I'm assuming that you don't have a large savings.

    Secondly, how many hours a week are you currently working on your artwork? Are you positive that having, say 40 extra hours a week, you will paint/draw within those 40 hours? I always found that the more free time that I had, the time that I wasted. I'm the most productive when I'm really busy.

    You've accounted for rent, food, utilities, and phone and insurance. What about going out with friends? What about getting to/from any jobs (if you have to visit the shop)? What about gifts for Christmas, holidays, etc? What about clothes, haircuts, personal hygiene items?

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  13. #7
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    You're 23 now.

    Think about this:
    When you're 30, what is it that you want to be doing with your life at that point?

    Now, do whatever it takes to make that a reality.

    Life is short, and you only get to ride the coursel once.

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    Do you have a time management plan on your daily life?
    You have a money budget but what about your time budget?
    Is there something else you can give up to make more time for improving your skills?
    What is your current skill improving focus?
    Have you had a serious talk with someone about where you're at and what you need to work on? It might be a good idea to know what is weak so you can address that first and then move onto other things that need your attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hoppes View Post
    A couple of things: in my experience, whenever I cut things tight (financial-wise), something ALWAYS comes up that blows it out of the water. I'm assuming that you don't have a large savings.

    Secondly, how many hours a week are you currently working on your artwork? Are you positive that having, say 40 extra hours a week, you will paint/draw within those 40 hours? I always found that the more free time that I had, the time that I wasted. I'm the most productive when I'm really busy.

    You've accounted for rent, food, utilities, and phone and insurance. What about going out with friends? What about getting to/from any jobs (if you have to visit the shop)? What about gifts for Christmas, holidays, etc? What about clothes, haircuts, personal hygiene items?
    This is what I most relate to. When I have tons of free time I don't tend to utilize it well. Practicing and getting paid to do something creates completely different motivations.

    But I think about when I'll quit my day job every single day. My first plan is to ease into it. I want to at least give that a chance, ya know? I think I can be professionally productive on an entry level while still holding a day job to start with.

    But, if that doesn't work, you better believe I'm going to go all in with every chip I have to make it happen.

    So, my suggestion (from someone who has ye to quit his day job)would be to try and get your feet wet. There's nothing less heroic about scouting out how the industry responds to your work. Use that information to strategize how you'll break onto the scene for real.

    Bobby makes a real good point about this in one of his latest videos. He encourages everyone to go after what they want 100%. But he suggests that you strategize well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtNSj...feature=g-vrec

    The Sketchbook of Naj and Stu!:
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  19. #10
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    Totally agree with you, UmpaArt. That's my plan, also. I would LOVE to be painting full-time, but it's not feasible at the moment (besides, I really really like my full-time job and I get paid well for doing it).

    I DO work a lot of hours after I'm done with my day job. I also spend a lot of time marketing myself and trying to find venues to sell my paintings (Need to increase that a bit). However, I have a goal (in terms of my art work and sales) in mind and a time frame... so, that helps keep me on track.

    But, in reality, it's easy to fritter away time, if I'm not careful about monitoring it. Amazing how fast a week goes by when you get busy with family stuff, etc.

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  21. #11
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    I can say that I kinda got the same thing as some of folks posted before - I'm best productive when busy. The more busy I am (it doesnt have to be only painting) the better I perform and the better I feel about myself.

    So my advice would be: dont quit your job, try to get additional freelance there as well. Sooner or later you'll get to the point where you actually have so many job offers that you can quit your job and still make living.

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  23. #12
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    One thing I'd like to mention is that you better have business sense if you're going to freelance.

    Because a lot of people are used to certain finances being handled by their employers like how much is paid into an insurance plan, taxes, social security etc... fewer understand tax rules when doing it on your own.

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  25. #13
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    Rent+utilities=300
    Where do you live and with how many people?

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    I would recommend gradual transition from a safe place in today's world. Just take advantage of your current situation and work your ass off to be every ounce as good as you can be...and then more. Things open up when you're work, and you, are ready.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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  29. #15
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    do whats best for you, and make sure you do it with all your might.

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  31. #16
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    I have been freelancing for a few years (non-art, I'm afraid- I'm not anywhere near that level) and what you've been told is so true- its feast or famine. It seems there is always a plethora of work, or not enough. Something reliable and consistent to support yourself while you try freelancing shouldn't be abandoned without serious thought.

    Is that work-from-home position contract or employment? Are you certain there will always be at least 20 hrs of work available? When the website or system crashes for a day or two, are you just out 2 days pay? Personally, with how the job market has been, I would choose the local job over the internet one. Maybe you could cut some hours or take some time off to allow for more art time, but I would prefer the security of a sure thing.

    I noticed that you didn't mention art supplies (tech supplies?) in your budget. My computer and internet are how I make money. They're essential. Say, you buy a new computer and tablet every 5 years. Add up that cost and divide it by 5. That's your yearly carrying costs. And what about taxes? It gets tricky real fast when you're trying to figure out how much of your living space can be deducted. If you use a tax pro, that gets budgeted too. You're on your parents insurance for another year or two, does that cover vision and dental? What about prescriptions? Because you can be damn sure your wisdom teeth will be a problem at the worst time! Budget for contacts, new glasses, ongoing prescriptions and emergency ones, ER visits (at least $100 even if you have insurance), etc. Someone else mentioned budgeting for time with friends. I don't know about anyone else, but I go out with friends more now that I work alone than when I saw people everyday. It doesn't have to be much, but it may keep you sane.

    You really want to think of all of your costs, including the potential ones. You don't want to find yourself in a position where you're facing homelessness because milk went up a $1.50. Ok, extreme example, but you get the idea. You need to be sure you can live through the famines, not just the feasts.

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  33. #17
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    Just adding an extra two cents...

    As long as you still have steady work, SAVE UP. You'll want a fair amount of cushion to get you through the first few years of freelancing... Especially in case of emergencies. (You get sick, your computer blows up, your rent suddenly goes up to something realistic, etc...)

    Also, once you are freelancing, save up every time you have a flush period. You'll need it for the less busy periods.

    I'm also of the opinion that you should segue into freelancing gradually if possible... It takes time to build up a client base.

    And another thing to consider: if you wait a bit before quitting the day job, you could take some time to get yourself set up - learn about running a business and taxes, get all your promo materials ready, get your space set up if necessary, etc. I sort of got thrown into freelancing when the place I worked at went out of business, and it took probably a year just to reeducate myself and get properly set up for freelancing, it was not a fun situation... So if you currently have the luxury to get set up before you start freelancing, take advantage of it!

    Oh - one more thing... Your budget doesn't seem to include phone, internet, and general cost of doing business (hosting services for your website? Costs of advertising and promoting yourself? Cost of messengering/fed-Exing things to clients? Not only art supplies, but office supplies? Software and software upgrades? Possible education costs? Travel costs if you need to meet clients, need to travel to promote yourself, etc? And so forth. Etc. etc. etc...)

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; May 2nd, 2012 at 04:22 AM.
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  35. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty View Post
    Where do you live and with how many people?
    Austin, TX with 3 other guys. Oh, and that rent figure includes internet

    Thanks for all the replies, some things I hadn't considered. General consensus seems to be to make a gradual transition while saving up.

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  36. #19
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    Sooooooo

    I'm quitting tomorrow, I've decided <_<

    As much as I truly appreciate the advice to not do so, I really feel that I can do this. So I'm gonna take a chance. I recognized it may be ill-advised, but I feel too strongly about it to ignore it. We'll see what happens. (remember i still have the 1k+ a month to get me by. money made freelancing is safety money).

    It will require militant diligence in time and financial management, that's for sure. But I'm ready.

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  37. #20
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    Brave choice

    So daily sketchbook updates from now on?

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  39. #21
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  41. #22
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    I did it in stops and starts. I saved when I had a non art job and then would quit and try and get work as an artist, fail, start again. I think for me the pressure helped me. Most of the people I knew with backup plans and safety nets ended up staying in those situations and never got what they wanted.

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  43. #23
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    Actually it just occurred to me that I had recommended my friend for an open position and he is starting there this weekend. I would hate for my quitting to reflect badly on him (since I'm the one who is basically getting him hired), so I think I'll actually wait until this weekend when his position is secure.

    But then! Then I am outta there >B] and into the scary world of freelance :<

    @Frostblade: most def B-)

    Last edited by Ian Barker; May 9th, 2012 at 12:46 AM.
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  44. #24
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    Interested to see how it works out. Good luck!

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  46. #25
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    thanks for the well wishes

    On a somewhat different note, is it a total dick move to quit without notice? Everywhere I've worked before I've always given at least a 2 week notice. This is a grounds-keeping job btw (watering trees, pulling weeds and so on... not a bad job, kind of relaxing)... so it's not like my departure will be too monumental, but still I don't want to be an ass if quitting immediately is frowned upon too much.

    Last edited by Ian Barker; May 9th, 2012 at 01:19 AM.
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  47. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liffey View Post
    thanks for the well wishes

    On a somewhat different note, is it a total dick move to quit without notice? Everywhere I've worked before I've always given at least a 2 week notice. This is a grounds-keeping job btw (watering trees, pulling weeds and so on... not a bad job, kind of relaxing)... so it's not like my departure will be too monumental, but still I don't want to be an ass if quitting immediately is frowned upon too much.
    If you feel your employer has been fair, be fair give them time. If their dicks, fuck em.

    Also, good luck on your endeavor.

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  49. #27
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    They've been really nice to me, even forgiving a week and a half of sickness with no doctor's note last month

    Now I feel guilty... :|

    Oh well <_<'

    Last edited by Ian Barker; May 9th, 2012 at 01:44 AM.
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  50. #28
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    Give a notice for the sake of your own integrity. I gave 2 week notice to a company that I didn't much care for and they piled the work up on me to make sure it was done before I left, but at the end when I did leave they told me I'd be welcome back anytime. Moral -- Don't burn your bridges.

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  52. #29
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    Wish you good luck, hope everything turns out the way you hope

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  54. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liffey View Post
    They've been really nice to me, even forgiving a week and a half of sickness with no doctor's note last month

    Now I feel guilty... :|

    Oh well <_<'
    Well then do the right thing. Art will still be there in fourteen days. Start applying for art jobs now, few people are even going to reply to you within two weeks. The magazines I'm applying to have a turnaround time measured in months.

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