Admit it: at one point you’ve thought something like “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could do ____ for a living?” And since you’re reading an arts blog, if you’ve had that thought it’s probably about being in the arts: “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could be an actor, writer, painter? Then I’ll be a success!”
Well, maybe you’re starting out and you’re intimidated by the costliness of everything e.g art supplies, acting classes, publishing etc. Maybe you’ve tried to – and I’m speaking from personal experience here – make short films and you’ve freaked out over realizing how much you have to budget for food, camera rentals, tarps to make sure nothing gets muddy. Stuff you couldn’t even have imagined. How the heck are you going to raise money for all that?
Sure, there’s crowdfunding and grants. There’s desperately guilt-tripping your friends (don’t do this one). For a lot of people it’s the starving artist life when they’re starting out. There’s this unfortunate catch-22 that is harmful in the workforce in general, not just for artists: I can’t gain experience without having experience, so how can I convince people to invest in my “vision?”
Success is measured differently for each person. Some are very content to not live out their passion as their career – or at least it’s not their primary source of income. Numerous extremely talented people practice creativity on the side, and are very happy to do so. I’m sure these people would be tickled pink if they could make a living doing what they love, but we can’t have everything in life.
Sometimes we have to force ourselves into a mindset that might not feel natural. Learning basic entrepreneurial tricks of the trade is undesirable to a lot of artists, who I’m sure would prefer to not have to deal with textbook business terms, but it’s paradoxically critical to success. How can companies, agencies, and galleries know what you have to offer if you don’t market yourself?
Let’s say you do work hard on marketing yourself – you might perfect the art of the television show pitch, getting the writing and the presentation and how you can sell it just right, and they…still say no. So what to do in the meantime? Well, find a job you like. This actually isn’t as hard as it sounds: if you’ve gone to school for things you’re passionate about, if you’ve done a lot of writing and honing of your craft, there will be employment opportunities out there for you. Maybe you’ll teach. Maybe you’ll work in a shop related to your career choice. That’s a good first step.
It’s important to realize that success doesn’t come immediately. If you want to put the work into understanding how to market yourself, raise money for projects, and do everything else required of you to turn your passion into a career, you can’t be afraid to do it in baby steps. It’s going to be daunting at first – don’t let that intimidate you!
It’s certainly possible for your passion to become your job if you’re willing to put in the long-hard slog required to get there. But does it have to be? I don’t think so. If your passion doesn’t become your career – or maybe it does in part but you’ve got to supplement it with something else – well…it’s still your passion, right? It’s really okay to just do things because you enjoy them.
(Credit for featured image: chenspec.)