Friday, May 15, 2009

Art Blog: Artist DAY JOBS

Recently, I wrote about my current teaching job. It is a love/hate relationship. Yet, I have only been doing this for 16 years. I have been an artist a lot longer than that. I started thinking last night about all the different types of day jobs I have had. Oh, I have had some doozies!

Of course, I have had many art related jobs. I was adjunct faculty in the fine arts department of two colleges. I have been education and exhibition coordinators at an art center. I have been the traveling, arts council artist. One of the most bizarre jobs I had was called “The Artist on the Street”.

I was hired to take tables and a carload of art supplies around town to paint a portrait of the city. No. I didn’t paint a thing. Each day, the art center director would give me the address of a local street corner. I was supposed to go to that corner, set my tables up, and ask passersby to paint their own portrait on a 12” x 12” piece of masonite. The idea was to assemble all the paintings together to create a portrait of the citizens of the city. I got the job done, but holy macaroni! Some of those street corners were very scary!! I mean, just imagine explaining to a hooker or a drug dealer why you are visiting their corner!! LOL
However, there were times in between art jobs when I needed bucks and I would take just about any job. I was a single parent of a kid who needed to eat and go to the doctor. You do what you have to do!

I was a bar waitress many times. I think that helped me hone my wise cracking, verbal “come back” skills I use now when my current students get in my face with their trash talk. One time I was a waitress at a Mexican restaurant. That was a complete drag (literally and figuratively). I was hired at the same time as another girl who happened to be around 6 feet tall. I am just shy of 4’9”. When the restaurant manager brought out our lovely, Mexican blouse and skirt uniform, he said “It doesn’t matter which one you take. They’re one size fits all!” Say what??? They wouldn’t let me alter the damn thing, so I tripped over that skirt for six months!

When I first got down here to Florida, I worked at a costume store. I had to go do PR for them dressed in stupid outfits. The one they favored for me was “Peter Pan”. Believe me; I never want to see my thighs in green tights ever again! Also, I did a year and a half stint working as the Education Specialist of the St. Petersburg Fire Department. I loved making props, writing scripts, and doing shows for kids in schools. I hated working with all those firemen. Long story.

I think one of the most interesting and fun jobs I have had was working at the Science Museum.

I got to present live animal shows. It was so cool letting tarantulas and snakes scoot and slither all over my hands and arms.
I wasn’t too thrilled about the scorpions! Another irritating part about that job was occasionally they would send me out wearing an inflatable, gecko costume. This costume was made for a tall person. I had to walk around all day with my hands up in the air because the arm holes were above my head. I learned how mean kids can be while wearing that costume. They would kick me, punch my stomach, and stand on my tail.

This isn’t the exact costume, but it is similar. I look at this pic and realize I am glad I don’t have to do this kind of stuff anymore! LOL

Have you ever had any WEIRD, FUNNY, or UNUSUAL day jobs???


Terry ( said...


Oh please make it stop. I have a visual of you in the gecko costume in my head and it will not go away. That gave me a real chuckle.

As far as jobs go my career has been very long and normal so I don't have any exciting day job stories.

Stay strong,


Sheree Rensel said...

Hey Terry!!!! How ya doin? Yeah, the Gecko thing was not fun. I would literally have to find a spot in the back room or corner just to get my arms out of the arm holes. My arms would start to tingle and go numb every fifteen minutes or so. I didn't mention the cooling fan inside the costume was blowing right in my face the whole time. It was suppose be there to cool the chest of the person wearing this get up. Unfortunately, I was a head too short and all it did is give my face wind burn.
What we do for money! LOL LOL LOL

JafaBrit's Art said...

My daughter spent three months at disney working as a character assistant and that job was to help protect them from kids and adults. For some reason kids think it is okay to hit or abuse the costumed characters. Strange attitudes from the parents too. Tough job wearing such a costume, yikes. THe job at the museum sounds interesting.

Big M blog said...


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