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  • Helen English Artist

The job that I dream of...

This week I explain how I got to what I do now. Quite introspective but I hope that it sparks ideas in others who have battled through the workforce or gives perspective to those who have always known what working life should look like! Here goes…


When I was five, I started school with big dreams and no clue about what I wanted to do when I grew up. My best friend, however, who is still a good friend, knew exactly what she wanted to do, saw it through, and still does it. I am very envious of her single mindedness. I remember that each time I learned a new skill, such as gymnastics, ballet, playing the viola, etcetera, I would imagine what it would be like to do each as a job. I had ever changing ideas as a teenager but nothing really stuck.


Strangely, although I really enjoyed art, I didn’t actually think that being an artist was a job. My parents always loved my art but also did not see being an artist as something which you could do seriously, even with perceived talent, unless you were very lucky.


Where do you go with that? My answer was to just keep following my nose and trust that taking each step as it presented itself, learning well, and finding the joy in that was my personal answer. So off I went; through engineering, post production, running a shop/ski lodge/coffee shop, teaching, and administrative work, whilst painting in my spare time. I had a lot of jobs which I really enjoyed because I was working with such a good team and had a boss who I really clicked with, but moving cities or countries meant I had to find another place of work. Looking back, I think that I found excitement by moving because work didn’t enthrall me. There’s a lot of excitement and promise in uprooting everything and starting again but it doesn’t solve the core problem of the daily grind.


Along the way, what I did learn was that I enjoy teaching both art and maths, organising projects, making art and, this one is a big surprise to me, writing! Whilst I’m sure that there is a job out there which comprises all of the above, none of the singular jobs which I had done encompassed all of the pieces which I longed for when I wasn’t doing them.


So, a few years ago I threw caution to the wind, handed in my notice and began to pick up work in different areas, having had a few conversations with various people who were willing to give me some work. I started helping to organise mural projects with local schools and community, teaching art to children and then adults, tutoring afterschool maths, and painting commissions as they each emerged. It’s an ongoing process to spend the right amount of time on each part of the puzzle but great when you are doing the work which you really enjoy. And joy is what life is meant to be about…


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