Day Jobs: Tanya Nolan, Interactive Marketing

Day Jobs: Tanya Nolan, Interactive Marketing

The second of a weeklong series of profiles about artists who work day jobs outside of the art world

By Dani Dodge


Although most artists need day jobs to sustain their practice, it is commonly accepted that the best place for artists to work is within the art world. Some artists, though, live a bifurcated life with one foot in a separate professional world and one in art. This series looks at how some artists balance their day jobs and their art careers.

Tanya Nolan: interactive marketing
Los Angeles, CA

Upcoming: Watch for her upcoming collaboration with Flight of Voices

Art practice:
My practice explores the line between physical and psychological space through installation and experiential work. The creation of each series draws upon my personal history of study in behavioral sciences as well as experiences in competitive athletics and the utilization of meditation, visualization, practice and performance to connect mind with body.

Day job:
I am a VP, project manager in the Interactive Marketing team at a financial services company.

Finding balance:
I don’t 🙂 It’s tough—I wouldn’t use the term balance at all. Basically when I have a show/project coming up it ends up being scheduled out and I go to work and then make the artwork. My sleep/eating/workout schedule suffers (which is why that is not sustainable in the long term but works per project).

Impact of day job, positive:
As a project manager I have to manage schedules and getting work done. It has taught me how to both estimate time frames as well as communicate with a myriad of people to get large projects done. In order to get larger installations done here in LA as well as elsewhere, this skill has proven invaluable. I have also randomly gotten inspiration from being at the office—it is such a contrived environment that when you take a moment to observe things a lot of questions and ideas can pop up.

Impact of day job, negative:
I often don’t have the luxury of thinking through many of my ideas so it basically makes the thought of being a “prolific artist” unavailable. Since I make installations, this lack of time only affords me the capability of finishing one or two projects per year.

Do you want to quit your day job?
I have left my job in the past for specific art-related things (i.e., an artist residency in Paris, etc.) and am grateful for the ability to do that, but working is a necessary evil for me right now. In addition to health insurance and a paycheck, I have found that when I am concerned with making money, my artwork suffers. I am more of a thinker than a salesperson (introverts unite! ;), and when I am concerned about selling my work for my well being, I just don’t feel the work is as good as it can be.

One benefit of this difficulty is that it has challenged me both in thinking through process as well as consideration of the gallery model itself. I do not think the gallery model is always conducive to artists and in their best interest. Yes—it does work for some people. But for many buyers and artists—it is inaccessible and as a “winner take all system,” creates an art world that is only sustainable for a very small percentage of people (both galleries and artists).

Almost every artist I know has a second job—even many of our most celebrated artists in America are teachers. Which is great for the students—I have learned from some amazing people. But is it in the best interest of our artwork? It is helping to sustain the lack of upward mobility we have seen in American society as a whole, and as someone with an education in finance and economics, I am interested in thinking through alternative models. This includes looking at Europe and their support of artists as creators of cultural legacy, thinking up new ideas, etc.

Tomorrow: Chris Oatey, digital marketer

Day jobs: Tanya Nolan, interactive marketing

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