Art For Jobs Sake!

In the world of job search and career development, we tend to focus mostly on those who are actively looking for full or part time employment, or regular, preferably long term contract or freelance work. Jobs with regular hours, in offices, in the sciences, in technology, in public media, in public and social services, etc.   But a lot can be learned about finding work from those who make their living in the arts.  Not just those who dabble in artistic endeavors, but those whose vocation is their art.  Art is how they make their living.
For the sake of discussion here, the arts broadly include all kinds of graphic and fine art, photography, video, actors, writers, musicians, performers, dancers, sculptors, along with the many people who work behind the scenes in these disciplines.  Yes there are others to be included here under the descriptive umbrella of arts; and there’s also a world of other workers outside the arts whose lives and livelihoods are dependent on the same self-promotion skills as those in the arts to generate their work and sustain themselves.
Those who work in the arts deserve respect and admiration for the intense and ongoing efforts required to keep their careers moving forward.  Whether their art is sold in a tangible form, exhibited or performed, artists are constantly selling, their goods, and themselves.  The perseverance necessary for success – whether merely paying the bills, or achieving major notoriety – is an unrelenting combination of shameless self-promotion, personal marketing, sales, and advertising, in addition to the time and effort required to create that art!   Artists who can financially sustain themselves in their art are the ultimate embodiment of entrepreneurship; they not only create art, but they create jobs for themselves, and frequently, jobs for others.
In truth, many artists will admit that marketing themselves is not their strongest skill; just a necessary evil with which they must contend.  But today’s job seekers can learn from the techniques used by successful artists in their searches for traditional employment.  Networking is one of the most obvious and important elements necessary for success for any job seeker or artist promoting themselves.  Building and nurturing relationships, meeting with the appropriate movers and shakers who can help advance their stature, to become aware of opportunities where their talents can best be utilized.  Generating personal relationships, and awareness of the artist and their art, are key in building an audience and developing patronage.
Additionally, online social networking tools allow anyone promoting themselves to be far more cost effective and efficient in self-promotion, for getting out information about what they do to the appropriate audience.  Whether contributing full-length articles to industry related websites and publications, writing relevant blogs, shooting short videos, recording podcasts, or composing short tweets, those promoting themselves can convey their wisdom and wit in palatable doses to attract talent buyers (employers).
Artists have traditionally used portfolios to showcase their best work, and job seekers have used their resume or CV to similarly present significant details about their skills and specialties.  These days, a clean, easy to navigate personal webpage can mimic or advance this concept by replacing or supplementing the printed page.  Regardless of whether you’re promoting yourself as an artist or job seeker, your online presentation must be error free, easy to read, and highlight your best qualifications.
Whether you’re looking for a nine-to-five job, or selling your skills in an artistic discipline, these and other tools are available to empower and strengthen your ability to find work and generate income, full time or freelance.  Large or small, singular or multiple – whom ever your audience, learn from successful artists the art of selling yourself.  And don’t kid yourself; finding a job, albeit that your ultimate audience is small – a single employer, job search is an art!
And there is a lot to be learned about creative expression, self-promotion and successful personal marketing from the artists in and out of your network.  Go to art openings, exhibits, installations, performances, etc.  Whenever possible, talk to the people who are making and creating art.  Get on people’s email notification lists and make social networking connections. Pay attention to the methods they use, and try to implement the ones that make the most sense for what you want to do.  After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  So, go ahead and flatter an artist.  Don’t appropriate their art (that’s illegal!), but learn from the way they generate their clients and income.  You’ll develop a whole new appreciation for the arts!
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