Artist Kellie Orr's 5 Tips for Making Your Passion Your Day Job

I was lucky enough to get to pick the oh-so-talented miss Kellie Orr’s brain on how she made the big leap: From her full time corporate job in little ol’ Perth to launching her first and incredibly successful art exhibition to travelling to Canada to paint professionally. 

Like many people starting out in their careers, Kellie didn’t think too much about her first job:

I went to Canberra and got a corporate job. It landed really randomly. I just fell into it. I was then in it and… just kept going. At first I was so excited, having an office job, people in suits, making $50k (that was so much money to me then!).

Two years later, I thought, oh, my fucking god...”

It was around this time that Kellie started to realise that the corporate life wasn’t for her.

Finding and pursuing that thing that lights you up - your passion - is possible. Kellie is evidence of this. She offers super practical advice on how she made the move so that you can too. The interview was jam-packed full of super juicy tips and learnings. Below is a snapshot of the key ones. Enjoy!

1.    Connect with the right people.

Oh my lordy, this is one I hear so often. You have probably heard me bang on about you being the average of the five people you spend most time with. This couldn’t be more true for Kellie. Firstly, she spoke of her partnera designer & photographer, and how he helped re-spark her interest in art. Then in no time, Kellie was hooked, “I started finding artists I liked on insta. It really snowballed from there… I’d look at people’s work and think, that’s amazing. I felt really inspired by all of it.”

She also started spending more time with people in the local art scene, asking for their advice, and going to their events. Having the right people around are key for keeping you inspired and giving you the right support and info you need to get things going.

2.    Listen to your body.

As she mentions above, this was a real tell-tale sign for Kellie. After a couple of years in her corporate job she mentions, “There was a sense of unease about it. I felt burnt-out, drained and tired… I also got very sick – not sure if it was linked. But I felt quite stressed. I was really burnt out. I would party on weekends to make up for the work.”

Compare that to now: “I feel more balanced and centered – I have more energy and more of a purpose. I’m happier on my own and not reliant on others for my happiness. I’m comfortable going at a slower pace. I don’t have that sense of adrenaline all the time where you don’t feel like you can slow down. I just feel content and in the moment, I’m rewarded by the art.”

3.    Be open to blessings in disguise. 

Kellie spoke about not getting into an art and design course she intially had her heart set on. “It turned out to be the best thing ever. Would have been a total waste of time. I learnt way more doing it on my own. Best decision that they rejected me!” [laughs].

4.    Have a (bit of) a plan.

“I saved up a bit of money. Around $25k. I calculated it was enough to live for around 7-9 months. I knew it would be dangerous to quit and do nothing. So I made a plan.” Having a plan meant Kellie could explore her move into art without stress and risk.

She also recommends keeping a part time job. She kept working part time in her corporate job to finance her art and which she said “took the pressure off” so she could enjoy the creative process while she built her art career.

5.    Take yourself seriously. 

Kellie mentioned it was difficult setting boundaries with people and convincing them she was “working” when she was at home: “People think it’s free time. I struggled with people’s perceptions of what I do. They didn’t have bad intentions, they just didn’t know what words to use. They’d call it a hobby.” To get around this, she set herself strict “dedicated art/work days” and she made decisions to “use “professional” words like “‘I’m working…’ or, ‘the work I created is...’”

Kellie shows through her experiences that making the move into pursuing and living out your passion is possible. You can even do it in a way that brings almost zero risk. 

Oh, and did I mention she is also a ridiculously talented artist… definitely check out her incredible pieces of work on her website and Instagram.

She has been painting seriously hyperrealistic pieces of artwork for a few years now, has launched her own art exhibition, been the recipient of awards and recent press features including booooooom.comBeautiful Bizarre Magazine, and, and her work is held in numerous private art collections. 

Kellie is now living her passion and purpose and loving it; creating pieces of work that express her views and experiences of the Western World. Definitely one to keep an eye on.