On keeping (or not keeping) your day job

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Page from chapter 9 of Steal Like An Artist

* * *

I’ve been nervous about this announcement, but here goes: today is my last day as a copywriter at Springbox. As of tomorrow, I will be without a day job and without a steady paycheck or salary.

Keep your day job” is one of the most important (and derided) points in Steal Like An Artist—I truly believe that up until this point, a day job has been a blessing for me. As I write in the book:

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they cant tell you what to do.”

While working a full-time job, I’ve written two books, made art, put out prints, given speeches, blogged…I’ve done a lot. And during that time, my wife and I have scrimped and saved and stayed out of debt and kept our overhead really low.

Now I find myself in a spot where I have a book that I truly, truly believe in, a publisher who believes in it, and best of all, from what I’ve been hearing the past couple of days, readers who believe in it. How well this book does will probably determine what my career will look like from here on out.

I hate to quote a fictional character from a sitcom, but last night on Parks and Recreation, the character Ron Swanson had this to say:

Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.

And that, my friends, is what I’m doing: I’m whole-assing one thing. I’m giving this book all I have — at least two months of non-stop promotion, art-making, and a 20-city tour. (Sounds like a new day job, huh?)

I don’t know where I’ll end up by this summer. Maybe I’ll be begging you for a new day job, or maybe I’ll be writing the next book. Who knows? All I know is my next move.

Remember: All advice is autobiographical. YMMV: Your mileage may vary. Feel free to break the rules. Make the life you want.

See you on the road.

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