By Kimberly Prosa
Despite the popular notion that one must be a “starving artist” in order to reach their full potential in their artistic pursuits, the practicality is that this is not only untrue but impossible in today’s economy. It is necessary to achieve some level of stability, both financially and emotionally, in order to really put those artistic dreams into action. As a working artist, it is essential to formulate a plan for financially meeting your needs until your art becomes self-supporting. From experience, I know achieving financial stability provides for improving your overall quality of life, which contributes to artistic productivity. Your additional income doesn’t have to come from a job you despise. With a little effort, you can find a career to supplement your income that is flexible, financially lucrative, and maybe even a little fulfilling and artistic in itself.
Many artists, whether performing or visual, often resort to one of two categories for additional work: bartending or waiting tables. This is an option of course, and may appear to be the quickest path with the least preparation and investment; but I have often found it to be long hours, and lots of shifts for little money. In addition, this type of work zaps what little energy you have left for auditions and performance. This kind of situation of barely making ends meet doesn’t allow for the essentials of everyday life, let alone the additional requisites of your art such as: promotional photography, audition materials, vocal or acting lessons, art supplies, film or multi-media supplies, etc. All of which are tools necessary to get and keep your career on track.
The past few years I have lived and worked as a dancer and actress in New York City. I decided when I began these pursuits to use my knowledge of anatomy and movement garnered from my dance background to become a certified personal trainer, an occupation I could use to keep myself financially on track. After study, completing hands on workshops, and passing the exam; I went to work briefly for a gym to learn the process, gain experience and make contacts. I then went to work on my own as a private in-home trainer. As a private trainer I have developed a business of regular clients who often refer me to their friends and family; it is an occupation that allows me to schedule clients around my auditions, performances and rehearsals. The industry is lucrative enough that 2-3 hours a day is financially sufficient and leaves me the remainder of the day to pursue my artistic endeavors.
The small amount of time and money invested initially as compared to the more immediate money of a job in the service industry provided long-term flexibility, and the reward of helping others improve their health and well-being… a more than worthwhile exchange.
Personal training has been the means to help me achieve my dream of actively living my life as an artist in New York. Other artists I have known have channeled their artistic talents into freelance graphic or web design, teaching private classes of either yoga or Pilates, or giving vocal or piano lessons. Whatever the path of supplemental work; the common ground for each successful artist is the theme of developing your own business niche utilizing your artistic talents. Developing your art into a profitable business will allow you to continue to work in the field of your craft while sharing your knowledge and talents with others. But perhaps the most rewarding aspect is creating lasting relationships with clients who will in turn give you their support in your artistic pursuits.