How To Survive As An Artist In Ireland


DESPITE YOUR friends presuming you’re a millionaire because they heard your song once on local radio at 3am or saw your exhibit in a local GAA club hall, being an artist is far from a sure fire way to find yourself in a steady, problem free career.

Are you currently cancelling the rescheduled gig that was postponed four times due to Covid? Or are you considering taking up a career in the arts? Well then, this guide is for you.

– If you want your talent and skill in your respective field to provide you with steady income then you must first get two part time jobs. Think retail, cafes, offices.

– You’ll need a back up part time job to your part time jobs for when those industries are summarily shut down like the arts industry.

– Lock in and cancel a few imaginary bookings so you get a feel for what it will be like when the government do it on your behalf.

– Do you like puzzles? Like one of those a thousand piece jigsaw with a different picture on the front to the pieces, and there’s 20 pieces missing? Great, you’ll love filling in arts grant application forms.

– To save your parents’ vocal chords get them to record ‘would you not go back and do teaching?’ or ‘would you consider a trade?’ and implant a looped version in your ear canal.

– No harm in posting the odd ‘had great time at the Dromolin One Earth Flute Reinterpretation & Sculpture Festival’ on social media. Not like friends and family will actually check if it’s a real thing.

– If you’re an actor searching for hidden depth to your performances, the abandonment issues you’ll develop as a result of government decisions should help you access Oscar levels of hurt and trauma.

– Okay, quiz time; what’s better than being paid for your work? That’s right, the promise of exposure! And whatever happens, always believe in yourself. It’s also free, and requires no governmental support. And you can do it while doing seasonal shift-work in the retail sector! Nice!

– Networking. You can’t survive without networking. You might hate the cheese and wine receptions at such events or you might even find it difficult to fake enthusiasm when talking to an agent, curator, director, booker or producer. Fret not, just copy what your friends say when they tell you they loved, loved, loved your latest work.

– What if you end up homeless because a government cancelled your industry multiple times and discontinued supports, reintroduced them, discontinued them and so on? You might well be wondering how to cope with the shame of it:

Don’t worry, fool everyone by calling sleeping in your car latest ‘art piece’. Oh, you’re a sound tech, make up artist, costume designer, rigger, or set designer and that won’t fool anyone? Right yeah, our bad, like the government we presumed the arts industry was basically just Hozier, Sally Rooney, Saorise Ronan and that crowd that’s after winning the Turner Prize we pretended to have known about for years.

– Giving up your dreams of being an artist will also cut down on the amount of people in your life who mutter ‘does he think he’s Bono’ when you’re not around.

– Always keep an open mind. You’ll be surprised by number of people in ‘normal’ jobs who selflessly offer their advice on what you’ve been doing wrong, and what you should do next.