2016 marks my first 50 years as a pro. A full-time professional artist that is, or FTPA. I don’t really expect to get another fifty years in the job but I am certainly not finished yet. Being an artist is definitely a full-time profession. It takes all day, every day, 7-52, times 50. There is no compulsory retirement, no redundancy pay-off, and no pension provision unless you do it yourself. Yes this profession is mostly a do-it-yourself career.

I suppose that when I first went to Art School I might have naively dreamed of being a full-time professional artist. But within a short time I would have understood that realizing the dream was very unlikely.

Firstly, most people’s career path involves getting a proper job, but there are no jobs as an artist, anywhere, worldwide. It is a self-employed profession.

Secondly, I didn’t know any full-time professional artists. Neither did anyone else. None of our family or friends was a full-time professional artist. No-one knew one, not even the staff at the Art School.

Thirdly no-one expected you to actually make a living at it. The term ‘starving artist’ was a very common term. Whereas you don’t hear about starving accountants, or starving bank managers do you.

Colin Ruffell [starving student 1963]