Trying to move forward as an artist is difficult. It’s especially difficult when you seem to constantly exist in the gray area- competent and talented enough to earn the respect of your community and peers, but not quite successful enough to feel like you’ve “made it”. You may, for instance, be in a position where you’re working on high profile projects, but as a minimally paid assistant (in the arts, people get away with murder-hello “stipend”!), or you might be creating work that is reviewed highly but makes no money.
Successful enough where it doesn’t make sense to quit- but definitely not successful enough to really breathe easy.
I hear you. I am you. It is tough.
What I’ve started to realize though, is that positioning yourself as strategically as possible while you’re living in this grey area is almost as vital as the work itself. Because if you don’t continue to strategically plan your next move, you’ll get stuck in the doldrums. And no one wants to get stuck in the doldrums.
I read a lot of “self improvement” and “personal finance” blogs. I like ’em. But most of them are written from the perspective of people who used to have 9-5 jobs, and are ecstatic about leaving their office worlds behind for the joys of blogging. That’s all well and good, but I’m interested in something else. Something, it seems, no one is writing about (or if they are, feedly has done a poor job of locating them for me).
How can we as artists use our particular strengths to not only make good art, but also build careers, comfort, and some semblance of stability in our lives? Isn’t there some way to use the modern economy to our advantage? Aren’t there ways, ways we’re not always thinking about, to work smarter, and not harder, in order to achieve success in our oh so selective fields?
Let’s find out together.