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A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

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4.2 The planned approach

The planned approach differs to the organic approach in that it is less opportunist and more deliberate. For example, you may decide to work part time in formal employment to support yourself while developing your freelance career or to introduce a different stimulus for your creativity. Read the following case study in which an arts graduate explains how they have developed a working life which combines formal employment with a developing freelance career.

Case study 3 The more planned approach

Adapted from Creative Career Stories (Ball et al., 2010).

BA Fine Art Printmaking graduate – freelance printmaker and formal office work

‘Last year I had about four exhibitions, with people I knew or met through other artists. I haven’t done much this year so far, but I’ve got an exhibition in September. I hope that local gallery owners might visit the show and see my work. There’s one thing I haven’t done yet which I’m very aware would help me; set up a website – most of the artists I know have done that. […]

‘I still support myself with another job – just general office work. I worked part-time even when I did my university course. I actually like to get out and about and mix with other people, I need to get out and be stimulated. […]

‘Now I feel like I have two completely different lives; my office work which pays the bills and then some secret life to me, which is my art life.’

Now complete Activity 5.

Activity 5 Case study take-aways

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

What can you learn from this freelancer’s experience that might be relevant to your own situation? Make a note in the box below.

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You might have considered the following:

  • You may be able to find ways in which your unrelated day job can add something to your life or art. Getting out and about can bring valuable experience and help you to build your network.
  • One connection or activity can often lead to others – someone you meet during your paid work could become a customer for your freelance work.
  • As well as supporting you in your freelance career, working in formal employment alongside your freelance work can help you to maintain important social contact.

Now that you understand what a portfolio career is, you’ll spend some time thinking of the different ways in which you could build one.