Rethinking your Creative Streams: Building Your Artist Career
We are often told that we can’t make a living as an artist. We call ourselves bi-vocational and we accept jobs to support the life we want to lead. But what if a large portion of our success was a matter of considering ourselves as entrepreneurs and making the best choices for our arts business?
Truth of the matter, most artists do their art because they love it, because they can’t breathe without it, because they were called to do it. In the same breath, most artists also divorce themselves from the business behind the art, often teetering on wanting to succeed, yet fearful of taking the steps to proceed.
Yet, what if you could redirect your creative energy to make the art you love your full time career?
I believe that by rethinking your arts goals, upping your knowledge, surrounding your craft, and investing well in all elements of your art, you’re able to build an intentional, more solid career.
Decide what your path is (Vision Casting)
Most people say they want to be an actor. But what kind of actor? Stage or Film? Regional or International? What awards do you want to win? What is your dream role?
Think about your art the same way you do a full time job, mapping out the job over a course of 40 hours and what it all looks like.
Take the medical profession for example: if we’re sick, we go to the general doctor; if you need your teeth cleaned you go to the dentist; if you need your eyes checked, you visit the optometrist. Your arts goals should be so specific that you know where you fall within your chosen discipline.
If you want to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, check out what kinds of credits Pulitzer Prizing winning artist have. If you want to just make money entertaining the masses, think of commercially successful formulas and follow (or create your own).
If you aren’t clear on it, then take some time to figure it out (write it, draw it, make it a mantra and say it consistently). Consider your genre and where you fall within it.
Set the focus. Make clear. Keep it simple.
Study Your Craft (Professional Development)
Take that acting class, do that apprenticeship, go back to the writing basics or spend a few hours observing some new art. Apply for a residency or a grant to complete some projects around a group of like-minded people. Know your genre’s canon and your personal canon. Identify and meet your contemporaries so you have an idea of what you’re doing.
Sure you have experience. Yes, you’ve been to school. Great, you have these amazing, organic talents. Keep learning.
Remember that on traditional 9-5s, there are yearly Continuing Education Requirements (CEUs), trainings and conferences to attend to hone skills, to keep up with the latest method of doing things.
When developing your arts career, hone your craft the same way. Do some intentional mapping of short-term and long-term goals.
Diversify your Creative Portfolio
What else can you merge your craft with? Do you teach? Can you do arts based law? What about art therapy? Do you produce, direct, have a knack for arts admin?
Think of yourself as an investor and all of your talents and arts genres are individual stocks. You want your portfolio to be well-rounded and a strong showcase of all your skills.
This is also a good time to do an inventory of your skills to see what they are and how they are doing. Are you neglecting one of them in favor of another? Can a few of your arts/talents help another?
Recognizing all you have to offer and being fully aware of all your creative streams can help you value yourself more.
It All Works Together
Remember, developing your arts career requires some strategy, but it all starts with rethinking where you want to end up. I invite you to simply start by focusing on your creative streams.
Amina S. McIntyre is a playwright and founder of Artz & Biz, a company dedicated to making the business behind the arts much simpler. She is hosting an online summit, “The Online Artist Residency: How to Make a Thriving Career Out of Your Craft and Build a Financially Abundant Business” in June. See www.artzandbiz.com for details.