Day Jobs: Chris Oatey, Digital Marketer

Day jobs: Chris Oatey, Digital Marketer

Day Jobs: Chris Oatey, Digital Marketer


The third of a week-long 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.

Chris Oatey: Digital Marketer
Denver, CO

Upcoming shows: Solo show at CB1 in 2018

Art practice:
My work is typically produced using carbon paper to create drawings and sculptural installations. The process allows me to work consistently in shorter time frames and in a meditative way. One carbon drawing may take months to reproduce the image’s intricate details, while a sculptural carbon installation may be completed in only a few days.

My last show at CB1 gallery consisted of pairings of pigment paintings made utilizing snowmelt, which were then photographed and redrawn utilizing carbon paper. I am currently working on re-creating small engravings from the 1850’s. These landscapes are views of the U.S.-Mexico border before human intervention affected the natural state of the environment. Each engraver has a particular style that I am interested to explore. The presence of manmade barriers affects all living species on both sides of the border in these landscapes, whether human or animal.

Day job:
I work in ecommerce and digital marketing. My current focus is on creating the user interface for a customer portal for our company. I also oversee digital content creation and social media. I enjoy being surrounded by a diverse group of creative people with a variety of interests. It’s a challenging environment that contrasts with my studio, where I can work uninhibited and free of constraints.

Finding balance:
It can be hard but I have found a way to make it work. I have to be diligent to create studio time after work and in between spending time with my family and friends. Getting out to art events is one thing that is difficult for me because I tend to put that time towards making work.

Impact of day job, positive:
Having a job outside of the art world has helped me to separate the two in a way that works for me. After getting my MFA at Otis, I worked there in admin roles and teaching. I had an opportunity to make a change and it has panned out well to this point. And probably most importantly, it allows me to work without having to worry as much about selling my work.

Impact of day job, negative:
It goes in cycles, like most things. Sometimes I work feverishly to meet deadlines and other times I am not able to put much time towards my art practice. I try to consistently be in process, which protects me from getting caught up or set back in the down times. There are some things that seem impossible right now, like doing a residency. I am glad to have done a few when I was younger and I know I’ll get to a place where it becomes possible again.

Do you want to quit your “day job?
Of course, don’t we all? I do look forward to a time when I can be in the studio more, but until then I’ll continue moving my practice along at its current steady pace. I don’t mind having another job as long as I am engaged in my studio and have a critical dialogue with the creative community.

Tomorrow: Alanna Marcelletti: Librarian

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