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Career advice for artists Career advice for artists
by Joseph Gatt
2019-04-24 09:40:58
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Advice for those who want careers in the arts, in no particular order.

-The more you know about art, the better. Whether you're a film director or a playwright or a painter or musician or in any other form of art, you will need to have formative years. Good film directors grew up watching five films a day, but also visited film sets and mingled with actors and crew or worked on film sets when they could. Good musicians went to different music shows every night, listened to a great deal of music, but also mingled with other musicians and played in different bands when they could. Painters visit an art gallery every day; also mingle with painters and exposers and consumers when they can.

art01_400_01-Be careful how you make you art. A lot of artists want to have full control over production, authorship, sales, distribution and would control critics, reviewers, and audience reactions if they could. That's not exactly how art is supposed to work. You try to get feedback when you produce, when you author your product, and try to get professionals to help you sell and distribute your product. Otherwise you're going to have an audience of ten people, if you're lucky.

-Most artists lose fortunes when they start production companies. A lot of times artists make money, develop an inflated ego, want full control over creativity, leave their production companies, start production companies, and the product flops. Production companies tend to know what kind of art sells and what kind doesn't, and in some cases will try to prevent you from making a bad film or album.

-Art in the form of coded messages. Sometimes organizations like big corporations, the government, or other organizations will want to slip in a few codes in your art product, or even want you to make an entire song, painting, movie or play containing messages for friendly or enemy forces. If they ask you to do that, it probably means you have their trust and you're a trusted friend. Play along and you'll make a little bit of money from the operation.

-Focus on sales first, then look at the critics. If sales are good, you don't need to look at the critics. Critics have their tastes, are often biased and in some cases can make their attacks very personal. But if the sales go downhill, you want to try to figure out what the critics are saying and try to use the critics' advice to fix your product. Plus hey, if your product is good, your audience will defend you from your critics.

-Art is teamwork, and you're not always the leader. If you expect your team to bow down to you like you're Mussolini, you're not going to do a great job producing your art. Whether it's a play, a movie, a book, a painting, visual art, whatever, a team member is always going to screw up at some point. In some cases several team members are going to screw up. Embrace those screw ups and know that they will be fixed.

-Someone's always going to claim to do better art than you do. But there's always room for two artists. So don't take competition too far, otherwise your competitors are going to end up swallowing you.

-Being famous is not that big of a deal. Many famous artists try to build an empire, and try to diversify their assets, spend all their assets, and lose everything. Even when famous, it can still be hard to be invited on shows or to have returns on investments. The more you focus on making art, the more successful you could be, the longer you could be in business.

-In sum, art is not a hobby, but a full-time job. One that requires a lot of contacts, a lot of contracts, a lot of business deals, paychecks to sign, human resources to manage, and art to produce. You're going to have to learn how to be effective with juggling all those roles, thus the importance of making a lot of friends in the community and reading about how different artists juggle all those different roles.

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