There are no set rules or career path in the arts, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything you can do to improve your chances of achieving your dream career.
1. Engage with the Industry
If there’s something to read, watch, listen to , see or otherwise participate in it’s got something to do with your chosen field, do it!
With the creation of WordPress, Facebook and Myspace it is so much cheaper and easier to establish your own profile online. Showcase your portfolio and join and “like” relevant groups through Facebook and Twitter.
2. Find a Mentor/s
It can be useful to have a mentor who has been there, done that. The relationship you ave with your mentor can be formal or informal, long-term or short-term, face-to-face or remote e.g. via email/skype, etc. What matters is that your mentor is someone with professional and personal integrity, who is happy to share their experience and doesn’t see you as competition.
3. Be Professional
Whether you like it or not, being an artisit is like being a small business. Once you’re a rock star you can probably get away wth turning up late and behaving badly, but while you’re on the way you need to be as professional as possible. If you get an opportunity, don’t blow it by thinking it’s cool to be a slacker. In the long term, getting your head around things like tax, marketing and managing a small business can save you time, money and hassle.
Whatever you want to call it, you need it. No-one ever got their record listened to/their painting exhibited/ the lead in that play by sitting around wishing it would happen. Know what you want to achieve and get on with it.
There will be bumps along the road, but stay focused and true to yourself.
It’s true; in the Art World – who you know is just as important as what you know. How many job ads have you seen in the papers that say “Major Label seeking New Artists for Recording Deal”? None, right?
You need to make sure people know who you are, what you can do and what you want to achieve.
If the idea of networking fills you with dread, try this technique:
Don’t hammer a new contact with info about you, instead, focus the conversation on them. Ask lots of questions about what they do and their interests. If it seems natural, ask them if it’s okay for you to have their contact details. If it seems appropriate, follow up a week or so later with a ‘nice chatting to you the other week, thought you might be interested in checking out my…..’ phone call or email.
Networking is a great way to build a support base of people who know and respect you and believe in what you’re trying to do.
Don’t forget to network, online. When you exchange details with a new contact – ask if they use social media. Connecting with them through outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. are great ways to learn more about their interest and for them to see yours.
6. Keep Learning
Did you know that makeup artists who also have hairdressing skills get more work?
Education doesn’t finish when you leave school/college/uni. Actively seek out new learning experiences and keep your mind open to new ideas. What are some complimentary skills you could use in your toolbox?
Refine your craft and work on always improving what you do.
7. How Great are YOU?
if you don’t believe in yourself, how are you going to convince other people to believe in you?
Confidence is key. Consider all you have already accomplished and how the skills you have and even the less successful experiences have equipped you with knowledge.
8. Play Nice
More important that who or what you know is HOW people know you. If they know you to be an exceptionally talented artist but a pain in the neck to work with, it may cost you more than you realize.
People like folk who are easy to get along with. If you had to decide between a really talented artist who is greta to work with nd an equally talented artist who is difficult to work with , who would you choose? Lose the attitude and don’t burn bridges. Building positive relationships is important. You never know which one of these annoying people in your drama class is going to end up as a famous festival director?!
Be nice to people on your way up, because on your way down you’re going to need their help.
9. Get Experience
The creative industries are ripe with opportunities to gain experience – volunteering, student placements, work experiences, extra-curricula activities and DIY are all great ways to develop your skills, meet and impress industry folk and enhance your CV. You wont get “discovered” by hoping, wishing and reaming but you WILL get discovered by getting out there and making stuff happen. Put on a gig, organise an exhibition, start an art show review blog. Activity creates opportunity. Don’t be scared about making mistakes – everyone does – just recognize the things that went wrong as feedback/advice/tips about the right way to do things in the future.
10. Expose Yourself Professionally
First impressions count, so ensure you present yourself and your portfolio professionally. If you are not confident creating your own website, and can not afford to pay a professional web designer you may be able to find a web designer or web developer who is just starting out themselves and would like to showcase their talents. This is a win-win situation as you can help promote the designer by building their portfolio while showcasing yours.
If you are a control-freak and/or just want to try your hand and let your online creative juices flow check out free platforms such as WordPress or Blogger. And don’t forget Youtube or Vimeo. Create your own FREE dedicated channel and consider the creative ways you can display your work and boost your online profile. Once you have uploaded your videos don’t forget to share them with your friends online through social media and post them on your website/Facebook Fanpages.
For more focused exposure take a look at forums such as Red Bubble or Flicker.
For real-life examples check out the following:
http://irem.com.au (A free wordpress.org site – only cost is the domain name registration and hosting. Can’t afford hosting and domain name registration? Establish your site with wordpress.com – the only downside is that your URL is not completely personalized)