Working in the Arts

While I wait for the conclusion of my interview with Montreal artist John Mavreas and spend tons of time searching the job boards, I have been ruminating on the difficulties of being a freelancer, particularly in the arts. I have been a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader for almost ten years now. The jobs, when I have them, are fascinating.

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For years I wrote corporate profiles of tech companies, involving extensive research and interviews. I’ve also written weekly columns for a baseball website, assisted a college Social Work program with the reaccreditation process, and of course been a Daily Revolution contributor. Some of this work has paid very well indeed; some I’ve done because I care about the topic or source. Very little has been work that I can count on weekly to pay my bills.

The economy has hit freelancers, particularly in the arts, very hard. Craigslist ads have bottomed out; listings seem to have diminished by 75% or more. There are normally very few creative jobs in my community; now I may see only one or two per year at my local university. I am interested in working for non-profits that focus on literacy or animal welfare. But where are these (paying) jobs? Do they even exist?

Freelancing is a tough life. I’m not complaining; I’m simply observing. I have multiple friends in more or less the same situation. I have a good friend in Portland, Maine, a visual artist, whose company was recently bought out. Her job is gone. I have another artist friend who has always had to take other jobs to make ends meet. This is the reality for many creative types. We love what we do, and we’d probably be doing it anyway – but it would be nice if there were paying opportunities for us out there. For the most part we are incredibly hard-working and dedicated people. There should be a place for us – ideally, anyway.

Are you a creative type? What are your experiences? Let me know and I will follow up. In the meantime, best wishes and good luck to all the hard workers out there in every field. Keep following your dreams!