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Managing a portfolio career

The focus of this weeks lecture was based upon 'managing your portfolio career' after graduating. It offered a slow reminder that my time as a university student is slowly coming to an end. In a few months time, I'll be starting my journey as a freelance illustrator. I must confess that the prospect of graduating absolutely terrifies me. Going into the real world and having to fend for myself is a slightly daunting feeling. However, I'm also excited to embark on a new adventure. These past few years, I've relied completely on my studies. It's now time to bring this experience into action and demonstrate my abilities to the rest of the world.


The AA2A lecture covered a wide range of topics including self employment, part-time work, taxes and dealing with rejection. Like last weeks discussion, this lecture centred on the perspectives of three designers. Rather than listening to industry professionals, the individuals in this video were recent graduates. This was really helpful, as the information felt more relevant and fresh.


Out of all the speakers, I felt that Pamela's experience was most insightful. Although

she works as a visual artist, I still found her talk really relevant. Pamela raised a lot of important points, especially in regards to finding part-time work after graduating.

Apparently, it's very common for artists to have an additional job alongside their practice. Not everyone is lucky to find a career straight away. Over the years, Pamela's worked in charity shops, retail, customer service and as a cleaner. These jobs helped provide a steady income, whilst she was setting up her business. Although we don't want to spend our lives career working in these roles, surprisingly they can offer us a lot of skills. For example, Pamela's experience in retail helped increase her understanding towards calculating costs, tax returns and expenses. Although having a steady income is important, Pamela recommends finding a job which allows you to spend the majority of time working on your professional practice. Working a zero hours contract can offer this flexibility. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the minimum amount of hours. You can still qualify for more. Once I leave university, I'll be getting a part time job for these same reasons.


Pamela's also emphasised the importance of having personal contacts, and spending the time getting to know people. As artists, we should be building up a supportive group, list of contacts and connecting with people through social media. Personal contacts can help give us leads in the industry. You never know how these people could help you in the future.


This lecture also provided an insightful talk on tax. Before this lecture, my knowledge about tax was pretty vague and overall limited. I learnt that tax refunds take up a large responsibility of a freelancers role. Being good with money and calculating costs are essential. Whilst many artists do their tax returns themselves, many opt for an accountant. They help safe time and stress, helping with your overall expenses. Most accountants charge £25 per month. Whilst I think these resources are helpful, this can take a large chunk out of your income. I'd only consider getting an accountant If I was earning enough money as a freelancer.


I also learnt that once you register as self-employed, it's important to keep all records of your receipts, invoices and expenses so you can claim these against your tax. It doesn't matter if these are small costs, anything is better than nothing.



Some additional points from this lecture:


- There are online resources available to help artists set up as self-employed. One of the speakers, named a useful website called 'beinspired'. They are a free online service

helping people grow their own business.


- Having perseverance is a fundamental skill in the art world. Handling multiple push backs can be difficult. However, art would be boring if we didn't get rejected. We take these challenges, apply the mistakes and keep trying again.


- Volunteering can help you gain further access to roles in the industry.


- An online organisation called 'artistsunion' has a list of useful resources for freelance artists. On their page they have an average rates of pay, helping artists to calculate their hourly and daily rate fees.

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