Crafting A Career Around Your Artistic Pursuits

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This week, we revisit an Ask Victoria article that delivers ideas on making sense of one’s passions and deciphering possible opportunities for cohesively blending those interests into a career. How might you implement the advice given in this article? Try out some ideas and share your results in the comments below!

Hey Victoria,

I’d really like some advice, and was wondering if you could help me out. I’m 20 years old, dropped out of my visual arts program and now I’m living in my mom’s basement. I’m not sure where to go from here, and I’m feeling lost. Here is a little bit about myself:

I’ve been making jewelry for almost a year now, and have been selling online and occasionally at craft fairs. I also run an independent magazine for local artists to submit to and feature their work, in order to network and be seen. My magazine consumes a lot of time, and the experience has taught me so much. However, I make almost no money off of it, and it isn’t worth the amount of time it requires (although many have expressed to me that it looks very professional and well put together). My jewelry has seen more success in comparison. Anyways, aside from those things, I also occasionally create art and just sold my first official piece last weekend. I’m organizing an art event, which will be my first time showcasing my artwork in a public exhibition. So right now, I’m feeling very flustered in terms of what I want to do as a career. Do I try to make an entrepreneur career out of my craft and artwork? Will I ever make a living off of that?

I’ve also been considering going back to school for further learning and experience. My family has suggested that I go to school for holistic nutrition, since I am very interested in health and body/mind/soul healing. But I don’t want to abandon my art, so I’m wondering how I would tie everything together. See, I have so many passions; art, jewelry making, magazine producing, holistic health, and overall I love to help others. What do I focus on? Are there any programs I should be taking in order to turn these kinds of things into a career? Which of these paths will be the most beneficial for me?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I would really appreciate your advice.

Jamie

Hi Jamie,

It sounds like you’re one talented lady with a lot of potential. Congratulations on selling your first official piece! I actually see a lot of things you can work with, whether you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, traditional employment, or a combination of both.

There are many great resources available for finding and making sense of your passions, too numerous to mention here. While you might be feeling lost right now, know that discovering your path to a career that fits you can actually be fun and rewarding. Most people who commit to finding or creating work that aligns with their passions discover options they can be satisfied with.

Next, I wanted to reassure you that it is possible to combine several interests. Your passions remind me so much of my own- holistic health, arts, writing- so I am familiar with several individuals who have been quite successful as artistic entrepreneurs.

I would recommend following a few, learning about their stories, and brainstorming how you might replicate the steps they took in a way that works for you. Below is a short list of the ones I’ve been following who I feel made home runs when it comes to blending different interests. My hope is that you’ll find their stories comforting and they will help instill your confidence that blending passions can be done! My list includes:

Jess Grippo- a trained dancer who morphed her health coaching practice into The Thriving Artists’ Program after recognizing her need to bring creative expression back into her life. Her program helps artists care for their bodies and connect to their authentic voices.

Jaclyn Mishal and Rachel Sales- Cofounders of Pink Pangea, a resource for women seeking credible travel information (and great stories!) from other female travelers who can provide the real scoop on challenges they’ve encountered and obstacles they’ve overcome. Through Pink Pangea, they also offer writing workshops, travel writing intensives, and sessions on unleashing your creativity. These take place in different locales as well as online.

Nicole Block- Owner/Designer of The Nic Studio, and Creator of Tyles (and my high school friend). Tyles, a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made finalist, is a line of vinyl wall products providing a stylish solution to renters and owners alike who want a quick, easy to apply (and remove) way to spruce up their living and working spaces. Would Nic have guessed the a-ha moment that spurred her to create Tyles for her own home would be a means to diversify her business? Probably not, but by solving one of her own decorating problems, she melded her interests- illustration, design, Moroccan-inspired patterns- into a sought-after product.

There are many others who fit the bill, so look around and see what other inspiration you can find. Let me know who you discover – I’m sure I’ll want to read their stories, too!

While my suggestions thus far have been heavier on the entrepreneurial side, finding a traditional job that makes use of your interests is possible as well. In fact, I just listened to an episode of the Creative Warriors Podcast which featured Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike. She outlined four different ways to “leverage your uniqueness”. One is the “Einstein approach” in which you have a stable job to pay your bills and use your free time to pursue your interests without any demands to monetize those passions.

You’ll want to assess your work preferences and risk tolerance to discover what approach is best for you, and remember that what currently feels best might change 2, 7, or 15 years from now. So if you find that one of your interests is just not meldable enough with the others and will take up more time than you can sacrifice, you can always go back to it later.

Next, I’d like to put some focus on the magazine you’ve been producing. Right there, you’ve been combining a few of your interests, and have been generating positive feedback. If you are enjoying this work and want to continue it, I urge you to brainstorm some ways to monetize your magazine so that you can generate some income from it. There are several resources and how-tos on monetizing ideas, developing online and physical products, and creating passive income. Learn how to ensure that you pay yourself fairly for the time you spend, and locate opportunities to get paid for your work. Educate yourself on these topics, have some brainstorming sessions with like-minded individuals, and see what you can come up with!  Some ideas that I had off the top of my head was to feature your jewelry in the magazine, and to sell copies of the magazine at your upcoming art event. I’m sure there are many other ways to generate income from not only the magazine, but your other ideas too.

Be sure to include all of these experiences on your resume or create an online portfolio to showcase them. Having an outline of your accomplishments that you can present to employers or clients will give you credibility. Rather than waiting until someone asks you for a resume, start creating one now to showcase the experiences you’ve had thus far.  They also provide great talking points for an interview- through discussing these experiences, you can demonstrate many transferable skills.

Lastly, I wanted to address your question of going back to school, whether for holistic nutrition or another subject. You can go full-time or part-time and continue your other creative pursuits in tandem, but be sure to really research your options. Decide if going to school feels like the right choice for right now. I think there are many examples of professionals who have successfully combined the arts with holistic nutrition, healing, and mind/body connection. Jess Grippo is one, and you might also want to take a look at Sandy Rueve, the Creator of She-Beads. Read about other people’s journeys and what training or programs they participated in. There’s been a lot of research on the connection between the arts and healing- this abstract on The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health is just one example. Before making a decision on a program, research different ones and ask to chat with graduates about their experiences at the school and how their studies prepared them for their careers.

Jaime, I hope these insights will help you sort through your interests and develop a career that matches your passions and feels “right” for you! Please do keep me posted.

To your success,

Victoria

 

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About Author

Throughout my 15+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to achievement. As Audience Development and Content Manager at Idealist for our online publication, Idealist Careers, I bring relevant tips to today's social impact job seekers and career changers with sensitivity towards the challenges they face. I also am the writer of our career advice column, "Ask Victoria". Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I share with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Have a question? Ask at askvictoria@idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @_AskVictoria.

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