Should artists learn a trade?

Been pretty quiet the past few weeks here on the blog eh?

Bloggy buddy and painter Jim Janknegt has suggested in the past that art students should be taught a trade while earning their degree. I like this idea. It makes use of artists’ natural ability to work with their hands while acknowledging how difficult it is to make a living as a painter or sculptor, especially right out of college. Even if the overly idealistic students don’t want to acknowledge the fact. Furthermore, trades generally pay more than other jobs aspiring artists often end up in. And we all like a little more in the paychecks.

The absence on the blog is thanks to a new full time job. I’m working in a trade again. I have a little bit of experience in quite a few different trades: Landscaping, offset printing, woodworking, a variety of building trades including framing, wiring and painting. My new gig is with a painter, someone I actually helped out for a couple of summers while in college.

I’m also still working for M-DAT. Between the two I have very little time left in a day. The plan at this point is to focus intently on my sculpture on the weekends. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how soon I can build myself a soda kiln, and if I can make it somewhat portable. I don’t need a large one, and I already have some salvaged brick that can help out.

A friend recently counted the friends he has who are currently without jobs, and they numbered ten. So, regardless, I’m grateful for the work.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

4 Responses to Should artists learn a trade?

  1. kseverny says:

    i’m an artist wo learn’t a trade.
    Luckily my trade is creative but i wouldn’t recommend it for everyone

  2. balm says:

    i have found a trade to be the way that I can afford to sculpt and produce art. it has also given me the business skills to work with galleries etc. thankfully most of my work is creative and now i am consulting artists for art production as well.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I agree that artists need to learn how to make a living, but how about requiring business courses during art school? Art is a business, after all. I’ve been speaking with some educators and find that schools are making efforts to help students meet professionals and network and get internships, but more has to be done to truly prepare students for the real world.

  4. Pingback: On pricing art, art as a hobby, art in the church . . . « The Aesthetic Elevator

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