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Justin Heazlewood

Funemployed goes beyond the press releases and the hype to show what it’s 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 starting out to giving up; running a business to burning out; the trappings of fame to the advantages of failure; the obstacles and opportunities.

This is a landmark book, written with the raw passion of someone with over a decade in the ‘trade'. Part confessional and part rogue self-help book, Funemployed is a wholly fascinating insight for everyone who appreciates the arts in Australia.

Funemployed includes interviews with over 100 artists including Gotye (Wally De Backer), Clare Bowditch, John Safran, Tony Martin, Amanda Palmer, Christos Tsiolkas, Tim Rogers, Adam Elliot and Benjamin Law.


What do you do? I’m a dancer. Wow! Your life must be so fun!

Almost every artist has faced a conversation similar to this one. There is a great resistance among ‘non-artists’ to acknowledge the technicalities of an artist’s life. In his second book, Funemployed, Justin Heazlewood outlines the intricacies of daily life for artists in Australia.

Heazlewood provides an insightful and personal account of what it means to live as an artist at different stages of life: What does it mean in university; when you have to get a day job; when you finally begin to think, Have I made it in this industry?

His previous belief in the capitalist fairytale is sorely challenged through his own experiences and those of other artists in Australia. Theoretically, if you study hard and complete a university degree, you deserve a full-time career, replete with car, castle and kids. But, when you’re spending full-time hours on your art, racking up debt and using Centrelink as a lifeline, it’s clear that your career choice isn’t enough to pay rent. You’re not employed, but you’re not unemployed, so, what are you? Heazlewood’s answer: funemployed.

While many have grappled with the question, Heazlewood’s response here is unique: his use of diagrams to illustrate the correlation between having no job, his dream job and his real job, or inserts of his messy scrawl (i.e. ‘Reasons You Are Failing’), make his insights into the arts industry personal. He draws a line between a subjective and objective account of the pitfalls and joy of being an artist in Australia – undoubtedly, his experiences will hit home.

Savannah Indigo works as a bookseller at Readings Malvern.

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