Second impressions: how to change careers

changing careers, Fi Katzler

Article provided by internationally-renowned, impressionist painter Fi Katzler

“Follow your dreams and they will come true,” we are often told.

It’s a phrase we hear time and again on talent shows like The X Factor or The Voice. While its optimistic sentiment can serve as an inspiration to many, the reality is not so straightforward for most.

Pursuing a passion isn’t always a viable prospect and this is particularly true of the creative industries. In a recent survey by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, creative arts graduates are the lowest-paid in Britain.

From accountancy to art

It was with this mindset that I was raised. Born in Malta, I grew up on the coast of Hampshire. I have always had a love for the beautiful landscapes of the local countryside and a passion for art. At an early age, I remember watching Blue Peter and following instructions to craft objects. This later developed into painting, sculpting, drawing, dressmaking and soft furnishings.

While my passion for art was always encouraged by my parents, it was rarely, if ever, considered a genuine career in my household where my mother was a doctor and my father was a solicitor. My school, which was very academic, also perceived art as a second-class subject.

My hopes of turning my passion for creative arts into a professional career was put on hold while I went to Oxford Brookes University to study a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management. After graduating I naturally fell into accountancy, and shortly after I was married and became pregnant with the first of my four children.

After years as an accountant, it became increasingly clear that I was feeling unfulfilled by my career. 25 years after graduating, I finally plucked up the resolve to return to education. It was a difficult decision but the right one and in 2005, I took a big leap into the unknown to study an Art A level as a mature student at Godalming College in Surrey.

At the same time, my second son, was also studying A levels, and all the other students around me were of a similar age, so it was strange at first. The teachers were all younger than me and in art there‘s no hiding place when you have to present your artwork at the front of the class. Despite the initial insecurities and oddities of it all, I fell back in love with the practice of art and was reassured that I had made the right decision.

In the summer of 2008, the family moved to Aix-en-Provence and the beauty of the Provence landscape inspired me to become even more engaged with painting. I attended the Art School in Gardanne, before studying painting, drawing and sculpture full time at the Leo Marchutz School of Art in Aix-en-Provence. This developed my admiration for masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne, Corot, Delacroix and Bonnard.

Wind forward a few years to the present day, and my artwork now stands in private collections across the world in Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, America and across Europe, selling for up to £3,000. I’m also due to launch my second solo exhibition this April at Cricket Fine Art gallery in Chelsea, London.

How to change careers

I hope my story shows that it is never too late to chase your dream and that with enough determination and desire, you truly can make it come true.

From personal experience, I know how daunting changing careers can be – especially in later life. You may have nagging doubts and tell yourself, ‘what if it all goes wrong’. But equally, if you don’t try, then you’ll never know, and living with the challenge has surely got to be better than living with the regret. Surround yourself with a strong support network to help see you through any doubts and any challenges, and use your past experiences and transferable skills to help turn your passion into your career.

The average person in the UK will spend a large part of their life at work, so why be satisfied with your career if you don’t enjoy the job or industry you’re in? Use your demotivation in your current role as a motivation to make the change that matters to you today.

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