Working from my studio just outside the village of Stonegrave, North Yorkshire, I am a painter, occasional print and artists' book maker. Drawing is important to my practice. I am an active member of Ryedale ArtWorks.
I seemed to spend the entire day on the train last Thursday. My car was in the garage to have a broken spring mended - a common problem living where I do because the pot holes in the narrow roads have to be seen to be believed. (And when they are invisible, as in my experience recently because it was full of water and much deeper than anticipated as I pulled over to give way to an oncoming van, they are very damaging and dangerous). So, I made the treck by train to Middlesbrough via York to attend the talk given by Wendy Mason of AA2A, about self employment.
Thank you to Wendy, for a frank and informative talk outlining the basics along with some of the pitfalls and for pointing out that there is joy to be had in the independence that being self employed can bring to an artist's career. And how easy it is to fill in a tax return, once it has been done a couple of times. The links Wendy supplied were not all known to me either, so that was also very helpful.
Now, I am in a strange position when it comes to self employment; I have, since I moved to North Yorkshire, never earned even a £1000 profit in a year. I was teaching part time and paying my taxes before I moved here. I hasten to add that I am not a dishonest person trying to avoid paying tax. I have been on a few courses about being self employed and my current situation simply does not fit any of the normal career outlines. Namely, I moved here because my husband was offered a job and have not been "employed" since although I have worked as a volunteer at a gallery. I make work that I want to make, because my lovely partner told me it was my turn to develop my career; I know this means I am lucky. So, I do make the work I want to make, what interests me, and which very rarely sells. I am so below the tax threshold, it simply is not worth me wasting HMRC's time with declaring myself as self employed. I am what would be termed a "hobbyist", but not in the derogative term that most people use the word. I just do not make my living from my work; it does not mean that I am not a consummately professional artist.
I was lucky to be able to chat with Wendy while we waited for our trains home about this and I was heartened that she agreed with me that declaring myself to be self employed was not necessary at this point. I had been feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing, so it was good to know from someone who knows what they are talking about, that I am not doing anything wrong and that I should just keep going with developing my work. Thank you Wendy!
I just wish the well known local artist that attacked me about this a few years ago, in front of a lot of other local artists, saying that what I was doing was illegal and that I was despicable, had thought to talk to me first. Oh, and maybe check her facts. It's a shame too, because she has refused to acknowledge my presence ever since, even though it was she, not I who was in the wrong.