Work Experience Students
So this week I have had a student from the local sixth form doing her work experience with me in the shop and studio in the name of doing my bit for the potential artists of the future.
These kids are full of excitement and wonder and it is always a pleasure to take them through the ins and outs of being a self-employed artist and showing them just how diverse and open to challenges you have to be to make it in this game, as well as how much work you have to put in - long hours and a head for figures helps.
So this lovely Year 12 girl arrived bright and excited Tuesday morning and I spent the whole day just talking to her about all aspects of my business and all the different ways I make money to keep the roof over my family’s heads. I showed her the shop website and the EPOS system, the different types of stock and revenue streams, the paperwork and all the boring stuff. Then I chatted to her about my artwork - the commission work, the artwork to sell and all the other things I do to promote and sell my work.
I tend to find that it is a real eye opener for them. They really have no idea what is involved and how hard you have to work to make a living as an artist. Even if your work sells on a regular basis, or you have a diary full of commissions, you still have to constantly promote yourself and your work and be creating new pieces all the time and try to stay current and produce work that people will be interested in and will hopefully buy.
We then spent the rest of the week in the studio creating. As it happens I had a project to do for the local community that I agreed to do for free and my work experience student spent the rest of her week creating artwork to decorate a space in the town that is used and seen daily by people of the town but the space was currently drab, boring and very unloved and a group of local people who have been working incredibly hard to brighten up all areas of our lovely town asked me if I could add a touch of magic to this particular space. So my student spent her week designing and creating artwork for this space with some help and guidance from me as to what she could do, how to present it and how to make it durable and weatherproof as it is an outdoor space. She had a wonderful time and did an amazing job and by the end of her time with me, the space was transformed and looked absolutely amazing. When I added her name to it once we had finished it, she was bursting with pride. It was so wonderful to see her light up with pride and experience an element of what I feel every time I finish putting an exhibition together or sell a piece of artwork.
Every time I have a student on work experience, I make sure I show them all the boring but important stuff, give them an honest and true insight into the life of an artist, as well as the fun studio stuff, (I’ve done it so often and so many times I have an unwritten schedule that I follow with each student) and each time I go through it, it does make me realise how much work I put in, how many hours I work and all for practically the same pay, maybe even less money than I would if I just stacked shelves in the local supermarket, with none of the hassle of having to do the accounts, run the business and worry about sales dropping off all the time. I could also leave work after a set amount of hours and be done with it instead of working constantly and slotting my family and home life in around it. You do have to wonder why we do it.
The question is… Would I be happy doing anything else? And the answer is… NO.
I have the perfect job. I am doing something that I love and there is no bigger thrill than someone coming along and looking at your artwork, picking a piece they like and paying you for it. All the long hours and hard work evaporates with that sale, big or small it doesn’t matter, it just makes it all worth while and reaffirms why you do it. But each and every time you have a work experience student it always makes me question it, until the next sale comes through and I remember.
Happiness is the key. Happiness and enjoyment in what you do is all that matters. If you love what you do and find it rewarding and get a feeling of fulfilment from it, all the long hours and hard work is worthwhile. My son does object to me working while we are on holiday though lol 😂