But Do These Jobs Actually Pay?

I liked the idea of this TIME feature on people who work in creative fields that “actually pay,” but when I started reading it, I wondered if most of these people were actually earning a decent amount of money. For starters, most of these people are cagey about what they earn (when asked how much he makes, the balloon sculptor says, “Some months are better than others, and I keep growing pretty rapidly every year, about 50% every year for the past 4 years.”).

Secondly, the comedian interviewed in this feature is Tig Notaro, who recently released a successful live recording of one of her sets in which she discusses being diagnosed with cancer, and it’s my understanding that it’s difficult to make money as a comedian unless you’re a big name. Finally, some of these creative types admit they don’t make a lot of money (when asked about the worst part of her job, graphic novelist Ellen Forney responds, “Not much pay, no group health benefits.” The street artist who covers objects in public spaces with yarn says she gets paid $20,000 a year through commissions, which is pretty nice—I mean, she gets paid to cover objects with yarn—but not nice enough to make a decent living. Maybe I need to reconsider how I define “actually pay.”

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

deepomega (#22)

Basically, if you want to do creative shit and also make money you have two options. Be incredibly good and astoundingly lucky and just make it as a fine artist, or be one of those things and make it as a commercial artist. I chose the latter, and it’s working out so far, but I have to suck it up and work on projects I don’t like about half the time.

probs (#296)

Mike, check out Dorothy Gambrell’s detailed breakdown of how much money she makes as a comics author/illustrator. As someone who likes financial transparency, I think you’d really enjoy it. Spoiler alert: it’s not a ton of money.

probs (#296)

@probs http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/20/income-chart-webcomics-cartoonist-gambrell-estrada/ this article has links to her charts as well as some by Ryan Estrada, another comics person.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

Well everyone has different definitions of what decent money is. I like to make my imaginary business plan for when I finally go out on my own freelancing as an ESL teacher and most people I know would cry when they see what I need/expect my take home pay to be. But my roommate and I figured that even with our sad little salaries, we only need half of that to live. So maybe the street artist only makes $20,000 a year, but if she can live on $10,000, like a lot of people can, $20,000 sounds pretty good to me!

Also, if you really want to do something creative, you will work two other jobs to make it happen. It’s really about priorities.

Megano! (#124)

There is NO WAY that first guy is 23 and he started his business in 2007 AND worked for the army purchasing tanks.

ghechr (#596)

That TIME feature was so completely uninformative. It’s like, “CHECK OUT THESE CREATIVE JOBS THAT PAY” but then don’t tell you how much these people actually make (except for the nail artist). And almost everyone (save for the nail artist and the flute guy) said that the worst part of the job was the money. So… do they pay or not?

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