The Artist Survival Kit Career Paths workshop on May 22 was attended by 24 artists who spent the day deep in self assessment and exploring career aspirations. This is a hard workshop to boil down because the participants openly discussed their artwork and professional lives, adding much depth to the topic. That network of other dedicated artists seems a pretty important part of career assessment (so be sure you have trusted colleagues for this conversation!).
A few notes, though, that may give you a sense of the workshop content.
- Where am I?
Relieve yourself of preconceived notions and judgments of success as an artist and spend time assessing. Consider your aspirations and values. Success may mean different things based on your financial, psychological, and artistic expectations. Are your decisions about your artwork (creation and public exhibiting) aligning with your real hopes and ideals? Consider your skills, challenges, and preferences. What are challenges you face that you should be more patient about or that you should tackle head on?
- Commitment level
Participant Eric Wright said, “Being an artist is not for the faint of heart.” If you desire an art career that includes high-quality venues, critical acclaim, and/or clarity about your work, it’s not a casual endeavor. It’s not just about time. Consider the amount of emotional and intellectual commitment you are willing to dedicate to your artistic life. Be patient with yourself based on the commitment you are willing to make. For instance, don’t expect improvements in drawing skill, if you do not want to practice drawing regularly.
- Peers, colleagues, and cultural climate
Presenter Sunni Mercer repeated several times, “Artists do not make work in a vacuum.” Even if you spend a lot of time alone in your studio, your work and success is influenced by your community and peers. Workshop participants outlined contemporary issues like technology and media saturation, changes in social norms, and recession economics. What are the opportunities and challenges of our contemporary cultural climate? As far as community, who are you looking to as artistic peers and how do you seek feedback for your work?
Thanks to Sunni Mercer for presenting with me and to all the participants for digging in!
The next Artist Survival Kit workshop is “Verbal Communications,” offered in partnership with Creative Capital. Apply by June 30 to participate.