9–5 Survivor’s Guilt: A Podcast with Brian John Spencer

Work, Netflix, sleep, repeat. Is this your day? Is this your life?

I mention the 9–5 routine to Brian John Spencer and he physically revulses in his chair. The very thought is radioactive.

After five years at Queen’s University Belfast doing his grammar school duty, Brian was “categorically unemployable”. Then he picked up his pens and paints.

Multiple years of graft later, he’s an industrious cartoonist, live drawer, blogger, writer and, most recently, video-maker, his daily vlogs offering a peak into life as a freelance artist and some of the province’s most interesting sights and personalities.

“I don’t want a real job”, he tells me. “I want an unreal job.”

“I really suffer from survivor’s guilt, where a plane goes down and 580 people die and 5 survive and I’m one of them, and I know the others can’t be saved.”

Can you survive?

Maybe. Listen and find out.

  • 6:00 Why our generation has to shift its idea of success
  • 9:40 What to do if you’re uninspired by your post-uni career
  • 20:30 Why it’s okay to rip off the people you admire
  • 31:15 How to be ambitious on social media
  • 33:00 How to rethink the labour/leisure balance and Monday blues
  • 42:20 How to free yourself from 9–5
Brian did a portrait of me after the podcast. He said it was “the worst one he’s ever done”.