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Funemployed: Life as an Australian Artist

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Funemployed goes beyond the press releases and the hype to show what its really like to be a working artist in Australia. Through candid interviews, brutal honesty and lacerating wit, Justin Heazlewood (aka The Bedroom Philosopher) provides a fascinating portrait of life in Australia for artists and aspiring artists alike.

Justin explores every dark corner of the arts. From
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 2nd 2014 by Affirm Press (first published May 27th 2014)
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May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Ever wonder what happens with all your favoute writers/comedians when they are not on stage? Well, Justin Heazlewood knows and has lifted the curtain and asked the audience to stay behind and see the normal life that every artist has to face.

As a comedian and writer, I was reading this book seeing all my troubles in my life with being an artist come flooding back. I found myself laughing and nodding in agreement. Justin's writing style makes you feel like you are sitting at a table with the
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
A book that anyone who is foolishly contemplating an artistic career in the great sandy cultural desert that is Australia should read. Ah, the tyrany of distance... and small town obsession with rugby and other thugeries. But hey, Justin's book helps one accept this as just the way it is. Perhaps that's just the price one pays for Medicare :) It also enlightens the elder disenchanted idealist to another important fact - you are not alone in your misundersting of your mispelt youth - even Tim ...more
Merideth Lee
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it
First up, I am not an artist or an aspring artist so perhaps my criticisms are a little unfair. This book is a mix of memoir/guidebook. It was at times very interesting and engaging, though I would have enjoyed it more if it was more broadly researched beyond mainly comedy and independent musicians. I was a little tired of Justin's grizzling toward the end but I admired the fact that he was very honest in his portrayal of his less than stellar behaviour on occasion and his own hangups. It was ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is aimed more at comedians, musicians and to a lesser extent filmmakers and writers, than it is visual artists, but having said that the core realities are much the same. A bleak and entertaining view of why you should probably choose another career. But if you've decided "artist" is for you, this book is a great reminder that you're not alone with the roller coaster that is an artistic career and gives much food for thought on how to tackle particular challenges.

It's unfortunate to
Kate Harrison
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend to any emerging or established artists as well anyone working in the arts. As an arts worker I could relate to a lot of what Justin wrote about but it also opened by eyes up to some aspects of an artists' life that I'd hadn't considered in as much detail.

Great writing and great insight; I also really enjoyed the references he made and the people he interviewed.
Lan Chan
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Some timely reminders in this one about what it means to be an artist in Australia.
Tim Chmielewski
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I used to be a big fan of Justine Heazlewood's but not as much now since he acted like such a tool at some of his shows. Big ups for him going in a different direction with the mental health thing even though him and Josh used to make fun of someone with a mental illness on their radio show.

I am quoted on page 184 in this book as one of the Mess+Noise rabble. "Everyone is entitled to their opinion" Justin replied.

Most of my friends are involved in the arts scene so not much of this is that new
Lola Montgomery Marley
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Almost too close to home, this is a great example of reflective practice in the Australian creative arts. Particularly useful to those in the early stages of a career. Justin is able to articulate the pathways and the tensions of working in the creative industries in this particular cultural moment
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
memoir/how (not) to/investigative piece into life as an artist in Australia. While I'm not an artist in Australia, I do consume lots of types of art and to have more of an insight into the difficult/depressing/poor life of artists can only make me a better arts consumer. I have been a fan of Justin Heazlewood (as the Bedroom Philosopher) for quite a few years and enjoy his new (to me) work as a writer. His writing is articulate, probing and both analytical and emotional. He draws not just from ...more
Andrew McMillen
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Attempting a career in the creative arts is a difficult proposition, as the author well knows: he achieved national notoriety as The Bedroom Philosopher, an artist who mixed clever wordplay with song. A decade performing in that role and sampling the highs and lows of the artistic life puts Heazlewood in good stead to write 'Funemployed', a must-read for any creative soul no matter their station in life.

What he has assembled here is not so much a how-to manual but a wry, singular account of his
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
An eye-opening account of what it's really like to be an artist in Australia. Life at the bottom, but more often, life in the middle.

The chapters are well-separated into their various topics, broken down into easily digestible lengths. The first few are chronological, building a picture of Heazlewood's early years, but there is a great deal of the personal throughout. I would have preferred a broader approach to art rather than the focus on comedy and music, but that's Heazlewood's area, it's
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Some good insights into the challenges of the artist's journey through various career stages.
I appreciated the honesty and strange mix of grandiosity and self-loathing.
I would have liked more exploration on how reliance on government financial support affects a good chunk of artistic life and content in Australia. The author touches on this but then moves on.
Observations from friends and colleagues were interesting, often more so than the intermittent drone of whiney whine whine whine. Hence 3
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book should be handed out to anyone considering a career in the creative arts - performing, painting, writing, anything creative. It covers the realities like the erratic income, how rest enhances creativity and pushing yourself squashes it. Also talks about the misconceptions people have about working as a creative, and how creatives are regarded within Australian culture.

An easy to read and humorous book that includes information and tips from other creative artists as well.
Rigourously self-honest and self-deprecating account of what it's like to be a professional artist in this country. Which is to say, depressing and shot through with gallows humour. But, if you can read this and still want to give it a go, you've probably got what it takes. (Or you weren't paying much attention. One of those.)
Melinda Heal
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a funny and honest book that gets right to the uncomfortable nitty gritty of what it means to pursue being in the arts in australia. I was laughing out loud and could relate to so many of the opinions in this book. Highly recommend if your just wading into the confusing art world and a need a friendly dose of reality and bolstering.
Phoebe Macdonald
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Hands down, best book I've read this year and straight to a spot on my favourites shelf. Proper review coming soon; Funemployed meant that much to me.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Informative, honest, funny and intelligent - a book for artists, people who want to be artists, and people who like art.
Why not make this the first item on the required reading list for aspiring artists? Fitting also as a coming out gift for parents of artists.
David Bakker
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for all musicians, comedians, and every other sort of artist creating in Australia. So many technical and personal lessons to be learned.
Lisa Dempster
Must read for anyone working in the arts in Australia - a great memoir and good insight into the challenges artists face.
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Word wooing author of Get Up Mum and Funemployed: Life as an Artist in Australia. In 1980 he was shortlisted for the second prize. He lives in his head.  

Get Up Mum to be a radio series on RN's Life Matters from May 27.

Justin Heazlewood is nothing short of one of Australias most versatile and important storytellers. Music and comedy fans know him best as the ARIA award-nominated Bedroom

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
40 likes · 7 comments
“A roadblock for some is the catch-22 of feeling too amateur to begin. There’s a purpose for the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. If you don’t have all the pieces in place, act like you do. When in doubt, forge ahead with gay abandon! As I spoke to other successful artists about their early days, a recurring theme was the importance of making work. John Safran described it as ‘jamming’, while Ghost Patrol likened it to ‘playing’.” 0 likes
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