Day Jobs: Timothy Nolan, Paralegal

Day Jobs: Timothy Nolan, Paralegal

Day Jobs: Timothy Nolan, Paralegal

The final part 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.

Timothy Nolan, paralegal
Los Angeles, CA

Art practice:
In my current work, I start with handmade collages, combining photography of unique geological terrain, outdated scientific graphics and various patterns. These are scanned, digitally and manually marked and manipulated, cut, and re-collaged. The larger works are then printed on aluminum or vinyl (in the case of a recent wall mural) and the more recent smaller works are printed on paper. The results marry my interest in abstract painting and Pop Art with my fascination for quantum mechanics and astrophysics. The work alludes to natural phenomena and the intersection of culture and nature. I invite viewers to consider themes of transitioning ecosystems and the quest for discovery beyond the visible realm.

Day job:
Selling art is always a thrill, but I have never relied on sales to cover all of my expenses. My side job started as a temporary assignment at law office 25 years ago while I was hunting down teaching jobs and running up against limited prospects. First I was an in-house paralegal, then worked at a small firm, and now at a large firm in downtown Los Angeles, all primarily for the same attorney who brought me along for the ride. She respects that I am an artist and that I have a career outside of work, and I respect that when I am at work, she deserves my best effort.

Finding balance:
The work varies, sometimes monotonous and sometimes interesting, but it has nothing to do with art, so it never creeps into the psychic space of my studio.

Impact of day job, positive:
All these years, a regular paycheck has afforded me stability so that I can stay focused on my art and not on how I’m going to pay next month’s bills.

Impact of day job, negative:
I suppose the biggest negative impacts are the job’s constraints on my time and freedom. Of course, I’d like more time in the studio and the freedom to travel and go to artist residencies whenever I like. But in a way, I have been forced to problem solve and adapt to making work on a fairly regimented schedule. Those skills have served me well so far, so I guess it’s a bit of a trade-off.

Do you want to quit your day job?
I know myself well enough to know that I would not be a very productive artist if I were constantly stressed about finances. I have always had side jobs, and the one I have now works pretty well for me, so I’m hoping to ride it out for as long as I can. But all bets are off if I win the lottery!

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