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Not the Usual 9 to 5

Yehudit Garmaise

Good at writing? Why not be an editor? Like to draw? Ever considered architecture? Jobs in the creative professions are becoming more common these days. Could you pursue your passion for a living?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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BIGGER PICTURE More than just a job, Art Director Ann Koffsky says she’s proud that her work results in products that have a positive effect in the world, a sentiment often shared by other creative professionals in their respective fields. “I think putting out Jewish books that people have in their homes encourages Jewish engagement,” Koffsky says. “So, I feel great that I get to help wholesome Jewish books make their way out there and into people’s homes.”

R ivka Korf had taken an interest in graphic design since high school, but after she got married she figured she’d get an easy, part-time job just to pay the bills.

She was miserable.

“Creative people are just not going to be happy in a typical office job,” says Korf, 25, who lives in Florida. “We must try to figure out how to use our skills and talents to make parnassah. You have to do something you love. If you’re creative, you should try to find a job in a creative field.”

Anne Koffsky, an editor and art director at Behrman House Publishers in Springfield, New Jersey, heard a similar lament — from her children.

“I have two creative boys, and one of them recently said to me, ‘I have a choice of six jobs: I can be a rabbi, a caterer, a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, or a teacher,’ ” says Koffsky. “This is the world in which he grows up. When he goes to shul, he doesn’t necessarily see anyone who does anything other than those six professions for a living.”

More and more, Americans are seeing that there are opportunities beyond the traditional professions, and they’re not necessarily suffering an income shortfall as a result. Jobs that require creative thinking and artistic talents are more in demand today than ever before. Better yet, people can make it in these fields with typical undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the help of the many online resources available.

A Business Insider survey recently found that positions that place high importance on “thinking creatively” pay an average annual salary of over $50,000. Copy writers, for instance, who write advertising copy for the promotion of products in publications and broadcast media, earn an average annual salary of $69,130. Music directors, who conduct and direct instrumental or vocal music performances, earn an average annual salary of $59,040. The list goes on: Post-secondary art, music, and drama teachers; landscape architects; fine artists; set and exhibit designers; and graphic designers. All these and more pay salaries exceeding $50,000.

Meet some people who have taken the leap to non-traditional jobs. It’s not always the easiest route, but it can be the most fulfilling, especially when your nine-to-five is also your passion.

Rivka Korf

LOCATION: GOLDEN BEACH, FLORIDA│PROFESSION: GRAPHIC DESIGNER, ILLUSTRATOR, PAINTER

Growing up in Kharkov, Ukraine, Rivka Korf doodled a lot. Once home from school, she used online programs, such as Lynda.com, to teach herself Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

When she was old enough to hang a shingle, Korf, 25, started designing fliers for events and camps. After seminary, marriage, and an unhappy detour in a “just pay the bills” administrative job, she knew she had to pursue her passion.

Through contacts and listings in Facebook groups for professional artists, such as Job Hunt for Heimishe, J-Artist, and Jewish Designers Lounge, Korf found her current job at AdoramaPix in Brooklyn. Even though she and her husband now live in Florida, she continues to design for AdoramaPix in a rented office near her home. In fact, she directs two other designers and takes on additional freelance clients on the side.

Korf advises people who want to get into the business to look beyond merely a skill for design and sketching. Computer skills are also vitally important today. Once a person possesses a core competency, Korf stresses that every professional commercial artist should develop his or her specific niche — for instance, three-dimensional design, logos, sketches, or graphic design using photography.

“You always have to learn new skills to keep up with the competition,” Korf says. “You have to cultivate something that stands out.”

Korf says she appreciates her life as a freelancer, but it comes with challenges.

“Some artists may want to work freelance to avoid having a boss,” Korf says, “but the truth is, every client you have is another boss, and hopefully, you have lots of clients. I decided I wanted to work mostly for one company and get a steady paycheck, which I eventually found when I started at AdoramaPix.”

Korf loves her life as a mother of a two-year-old daughter, graphic artist, fine artist, and rebbetzin. (She and her husband Rabbi Moishe Korf are youth directors at Chabad of Golden Beach, Florida.) Her parents would have preferred she pursue teaching, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My mother is naturally an artist, but she never used her talents,” Korf says. “She always told us that she does better things by teaching, which also is a very creative and worthwhile profession.”

 

Korf advises that it’s healthy to forge one’s own path in life. In her case it meant using her artistic skills for parnassah.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working in creative fields,” Korf says. “Hashem wants us to use whatever talents we have for the good and to complete our missions in this world. I love that I can use my creativity in my job.”

Eve Emanuel

LOCATION: BROOKLYN, NEW YORK│PROFESSION: FASHION DESIGNER, MORE THAN JUST FIG LEAVES

After trying on too many skirts that were too tight, too loose, or too short, Eve Emanuel decided to design one herself.

“I strove to make finely crafted, high-quality clothing that fits women well and looks put-together,” says Emanuel, 49, who lives in Brooklyn.

Emanuel says she was always attracted to clothing and the creative process. “I love to make clothing that is elegant and made for women,” she says. Emanuel adds that she finds inspiration for her designs from the shapes and colors in the world around her. She also might see an article of clothing in a store and go home and make a tzanuah version of it.

Emanuel, who sells her clothes online and at community events, doesn’t have a degree in fashion design, but she did learn the basics of sewing while in high school in London and furthered her education with online courses.

“I love to provide women with clothing in which they feel great and relaxed,” she says. “To that end, I use light, fun, and ‘humble’ fabrics, such as cotton and spandex velvet. I like fabrics that are easy to care for, so that women can wear them often.”

Emanuel encourages people who are interested in fashion design to study art and design and then use what they learn to create original styles. And most important: “Always have trust in your talent.”

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