Artists are the original portfolio careerists!

We are delighted to welcome our first guest blog post written by Sue Goodwin, sharing with us an insight in to her own career journey and how she values the space to think, reflect and to be creative in her portfolio career. Over to Sue:

When I left school there were no jobs and like now a recession. I was relieved, I didn’t want a job, I wanted to go to Art College and that’s what I did. I’d had a part time job at a green grocers and that was enough for me, and the green grocer. When  he handed me my last wage, I thought there’s not going to be a next employer.

Leaving art-college in the early eighties, there were still no jobs, only Manpower job creation schemes. My choices at that time were train to be a teacher, set up my crafts business producing expensive craft work for recession hit UK or join a Manpower Services job creation scheme. Teaching or the Manpower Services job didn’t inspire me and making expensive craft-work didn’t sit comfortably with my politics. So what did I do? I set up a community arts charity providing educational arts projects for a growing market for artists to work in schools and with community groups. Although back then artists didn’t think of themselves as having a ‘career path’ the charity provided a structure for a variety of activities which could be called my ‘career’. These activities included working as an artist-in-residence in schools, hospitals, and prisons; lecturing at art colleges; providing training courses for teachers, health workers and countryside workers and working as an artist producing public art works.

After 17 years I needed to move on and for a few years I did a mixture of teaching and consultancy work. Apart from 10 years working in local government my career has been ‘a portfolio’ and continues to be so. The most valuable thing it gives me is the space to think, reflect and to be creative. Many of my contemporaries and artists I’ve worked with and mentored over the years have had ‘portfolio’ careers, some have planned them and others have just followed the next opportunity. Either way it has suited them and helped them to be resilient to the changes in society, changes to the economy and changes in how people see the role of the arts and the artist.

More about Sue will appear on the portfolio career stories page in the next few days, so do visit the blog again soon. Inspired to share your story? Get in touch with or comment on the blog.