In my work as a career counsellor with high school students, the career dreams that come through loudest and strongest are those of creatives. But can those dreams become reality?
Well, if you ask the parents the answer is ‘No!’ Those dreams are shut down faster than a two-year-old with a smart phone. Parents want their kids to be happy, and by their reckoning you can’t be happy if you’re an underemployed actor, artist, musician, dancer, writer or designer!
Lots of people give up on their dreams. So how do you develop a career that draws on creativity, talent, skill and passion?
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Where are you heading?
This isn’t about your career destination, but your career direction. Think about where you might be heading. What do you love doing? Be open to learning and to new ideas. And once you’ve worked that out, get good at it!
Train. Practice. Learn. Rehearse. Your raw talent and passion need shaping.
You know you’re creative, but what to do, where to start? Whose work do you admire? Who inspires you? Read their blogs, follow them on Instagram. Get up close and learn from them. Be found at galleries, gigs, performances and festivals, and take every opportunity to talk to people who make a living from their creative talents. Learn from them.
Find out more from industry associations such as the Design Institute of Australia. You’ll find links to professional associations on most of the myfuture occupation pages. And check out the myfuture videos and bios from creatives who started where you are.
What’s in demand?
Look for areas of demand, or that might be growing. A photographer friend suggested that some areas are really booming – think anything to with babies, pregnancy, family photoshoots.It takes a certain kind of moment maker and catcher – see Cherry on Top Photography for what this looks like! Put your own spin on it. Look for the trends and then advance them.
You’ve gotta eat!
Yes, your head is filled with ideas but you’ve got to eat, keep a roof over your head and pay the bills. Be prepared to work more than one job. This isn’t a 9–5 existence you’re signing up for. Creative careers often take a while to become self-sustaining. So find something that you’re happy to do to support yourself, while having enough time and mental space to invest in your art.
Internships and volunteering
This is about getting experience. It’s no or low-pay in return for opportunities to learn. Make the most of your internship. Be on time, work hard, be available, and be flexible, ready to try new things. This is where you’re earning your reputation in the industry you’ve got your eyes on.
Get some business skills – you’ll need them!
Chances are you’ll be self-employed. Learn the basics of business management so you can actually make some money from what you do.
Hear from people who are working as creatives
‘When we first started, we definitely weren’t business women; we were creatives who wanted to create.’
– Brianna and Anna from sixhands
Unconventional and unafraid
I’m a dancing instructor, former circus performer, marketeer and graphic designer. Marketing and business skills are essential. It’s the only way to get by. You need to be savvy and be wired to the best way to sell your skills. Oh and it’s a long term thing. Be prepared to wear many hats.’
– Jessie Zevaka
Be the one
Teen fiction author John Larkin tells of his first day in a creative writing class at university. Thirty hopeful writers gathered, ready to do all it took to succeed as a writer. This is what they were told: ‘Only one of you will succeed because only one of you will not give up’. He decided that day to be that one.
Last words – be real
‘Being yourself in your art is the greatest thing you can give to the world. If you like it, there are strong chances that there will be others that like it too. Authenticity often leads to really real, vulnerable, personal art, which is the best kind. There will be people who love what you do if you do it with authenticity.’
– Anna Stanford