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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 13, 2019

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Book Review: Funemployed: Life As An Artist In Australia

Book Review: Funemployed: Life As An Artist In Australia

| On 08, Sep 2014

Part memoir, part instruction manual, Funemployed explores the concept of having “made it” in the arts. Justin Heazlewood, aka The Bedroom Philosopher, details his own quest to strike a balance between artistic integrity, a functional personal life, and the financial means to keep going.

Justin has long since found his niche on the Australian entertainment circuit ever since landing a Triple J guest spot in 2002, and has gone on to release three albums and tour regularly. Clad in a cardigan and a 70s’ button-up, Justin performs a self-deprecating blend of stand-up comedy, wordplay and folk music. He has also recently released an EP to coincide with his book launch, entitled I Don’t Know What I’m Doing With My Life.

Much like his writing for Frankie magazine and his first novel The Bedroom Philosopher, Funemployed is an endearing, observant and lively read, peppered with enough chuckle-worthy anecdotes and quaint metaphor to cushion harrowing home truths about funding and self-motivation. Deliciously quotable in places, he describes uni life as a “share-house bouncy castle” and the Australian creative industry like a “dinosaur with tiny arms”.

It’s also impressive as a collaborative conversation, featuring quotes and anecdotes from vast numbers of Australian artists, from Sarah Blasko to Christos Tsiolkas.


If you’re reading as an artist Funemployed will prod at aches you might’ve preferred to have ignored for the moment. Topics covered over chapters range from “Uni Life”, “Networking”, “Rejection”, to “The Day Job”, and the agonizing process of self-marketing. Chapters are peppered with erratically-drawn diagrams in Biro detailing concepts like “Reasons You Are Failing” and “Shit Artists Say”.

You’re thrown into the deep end too, with early chapters about his stricken relationship with his mother and the childhood solace he found in music which spawned his career.

Justin himself warns online that Funemployed is a reading experience similar to “getting a hug” and “getting punched in the face”. Despite his own confessed self-doubts, Justin is in every way a shining example of an industry success story yet to be entirely realized, and I couldn’t hope for a wiser mentor. As a recent Arts graduate who works at Coles, scribbling story ideas on receipt rolls, I believe that a copy of this book should be mandatory reading for every youngster at the start of their creative journey.

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