So you wanna be a starving artist part 2

Published September 19, 2012 by admin

Months ago I gave my schpiel to people about wanting to do anything in the arts. I hit on a lot of things: rejection, reasons for getting into this sort of business, expectations, etc. I want to go back to something that I kind of hit on, but I’ve had reinforced for me, personally, during these past few months.

First, a recap:

1. Get into the arts (film, acting, production, writing, graphic design, any sort of fine arts, fashion, performance, etc) because you love it. Do not do it to fill some sort of emotional void, because you are going to walk into a field that thrives on criticism. You will get rejected, sometimes brutally. You will get criticized, also sometimes brutally. Do it because this is what you absolutely have to do, not because you are doing it to become famous or make a lot of money very quickly.

2. A career in the arts is like dating. Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you suck, but that you just aren’t a good match for whatever project you’re auditioning for/interviewing for/pitching/etc. You may need to go back and develop it some more. You may need to just keep trying or approach things from a different angle. Nevertheless, you will need to have a very, very thick skin. Thank God for emailed rejection letters these days…I don’t know where I’d put them all if I got nothing but hard copies.

And now, something that I’ve personally re-learned in the past six months…

You think a career in the arts is easy? Wipe that thought out of your head. Forget what you see on T.V. Forget your expectations of famous people (remember, there are many of us in creative fields that aren’t famous).

I, for example, work in costume design/construction, performance, and as an author. I will tell you, from personal experience, that any of these fields will make you work harder than you ever thought you could in your freakin’ life.

There will be fifteen hour days, twenty hour days, and sometimes longer.

You will probably need a day job for a good long time.

You will come home from a long day at said day job and log many long hours into the night working on your own personal projects if you want to get ahead.

You will use your own money to fund your promotional aspects/portfolio/personal education to keep at the front of your field.

Even, even if you make it to the top of your field you will STILL work hard because you will be a household name, and therefore expected to promote everything you do. Keep in mind that freelancing isn’t the easiest field to make money in – yeah, you have some lucky people making millions, but a lot are not. And even those who are will probably attest that it doesn’t go as far as they’d like it to, because sometimes they’re called to finance things with their own money, as well.

You will wonder most days why you’re doing what you do.

You will get discouraged.

You will start a lot of projects/networking opportunities that suddenly fall through or turn out to not be what you’d wanted.

You will do a lot of grimy, thankless tasks in any artistic profession if you start anywhere near the ground level, which is likely.

You will get frustrated.

You will lose sleep.

You will probably lose some sanity now and again.

You will start from scratch over and over and over again.

That being said, if you truly, truly love what you do, then you’ll do it anyway. I’m blogging ahead at the moment, because I know by the  19th I’m going to be crazy busy…today I’ve actually worked over ten hours or so (which is light for me this time of year) and now I’m staying up to work on promotional stuff for In the Red and work ahead on my blogging. When I was revamping In the Red I would come home from long days, stay up til four or five in the morning working on the book, get a little sleep, and start all over again. Why do it?

Because I’m a masochist.

And because I really, really want the book to do well. I really believe in it. I really believe in myself and my artistic potential. And I believe that at the end of the day, it’s worth it. I don’t want to put this off. I don’t want to put myself off, or at the very least put off something that makes me happy.

Because at the end of the day, I truly, utterly, completely love all the creative things I’m doing.

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