In the last few weeks I have been a little taken aback by comments about the 'self employed' things like 'it's alright for you you're self employed' 'well you've given up work so it's alright for you'. I am not sure what it is that is 'alright' for me. It feels like an inference that being self-employed I had a certain freedom that they did not enjoy. That my self-employment is a lifestyle that is cushy, free from stress, part time and for fun, as opposed to a real working life (theirs) which is harder, full time and it would seem not that much fun.
Art as a job and art as a hobby are two very different things, like the difference between being a building contractor and doing a bit of DIY.
Being an artist is my job and artists are often self-employed, that is just the way it is. It was a job that I trained for 6 years and while training I also worked many part time jobs. I am grateful that my training meant that I have worked in the arts, full and part time, employed and self-employed for 25 years. The nature of the work means that I work unsocial, long hours, often in far from perfect conditions and sometimes with difficult and challenging people. This is MY CHOICE and I know that others are never given the opportunity, education or support to be able to make that kind of choice. I have the same commitments to keep as others to pay my bills, generate income, run a home and look after my family and friends.
Art is my business- I run two online retail stores and a gallery, work to commission creating original work, branding and bespoke ranges. I supply many products to other businesses through trade sales, supplying about 40 shops annually. These orders have to be made, processed and shipped, so with several thousand items a year going out, I employ other small businesses to undertaken product production and some dispatch. I run a gallery where we show and sell the work of over 100 individual artists & makers per year, giving them an outlet and potential income. My gallery is open to the public 3 days a week, it needs cleaning, maintaining, stocking and managing. I never aspired to have a gallery but I wanted to 'save' the building from auction and keep it accessible to the public. Again MY CHOICE.
I never aspired to be a doctor of philosophy but my research has taken me to a PhD scholarship and as a student I study 2-3 days a week and I expect to have my PhD soon. Again MY CHOICE.
So yes being a self employed artist it is alright for ME, but I don't think that's what they meant when they said it.