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Pick yourself

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Introduction to Arts Entrepreneurship workshops at Baylor:

Follow the Money Trail
Tuesday, February 28: HSFAC #158, 11am-12:15pm; HSFAC #128, 5-6:15pm
Friday, March 17: Castellaw #101, 3-4:15pm

Pick the Right Tools
Thursday, March 2: HSFAC #158, 11am-12:15pm; HSFAC #128, 5-6:15pm
Friday, March 17: Castellaw #101, 4:30-5:45pm

Download workshop flyer

In a game-changing post for creatives, Seth Godin—best-selling author, creative advocate and marketing guru—blogged:

It’s a cultural instinct to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission and authority that comes from a publisher or talk show host or even a blogger saying, ‘I pick you.’ Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you—that Prince Charming has chosen another house—then you can actually get to work….

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound.

No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.

In an equally important follow-up post, he added:

What pick yourself means is that it’s never been easier to decide to be responsible for your own work, for your own agenda, for the change you make in the world. To have a chance to matter. Not to be finished right now, but starting now.

Pick yourself means we should stop waiting and whining and stalling.

The outcome is still in doubt, but it’s clear that waiting just doesn’t pay.

The opportunity and desire that Godin is talking about is the driver behind many artists pursuing their creative work on their own. There’s plenty of “creative work” out there but not many “creative jobs” – full-time jobs with benefits and paid vacation. And even if you find (or settle for) a full-time job, the odds are slim that it will let you really pursue your passion and vision. Your job is to work toward their vision.

Freelancing is the norm for artists within the growing “gig economy” (see the notes from a talk I recently gave at the Deep in the Heart Film Festival, or google gig economy – you’ll find a few thousand hits). The gig economy can look like managing multiple income streams, or it could look like having a day job or a side hustle. And it’s working for thousands of artists out there who also get to make the kind of work they want to make. You just have to adjust your expectations and gain some specialized skills and knowledge to do it.

Sure, you can also go the traditional “gatekeeper” route – trying to get picked by gallery owners, casting directors, Hollywood studios, major publishers – and being entrepreneurial about your work makes you more visible and attractive to them. Arts entrepreneurship is a win/win.

And artists are naturally good at entrepreneurship.

One final quote, from two arts entrepreneurship professors:

In its crudest form, arts entrepreneurship is about earning a 21st century living from one’s art. Philosophically, the term is about how art can impact audiences and communities. For artists, it is about manifesting the empowerment creative autonomy promises. The premise is simple: artists possess the temperament and skills to not only act entrepreneurially, they can receive the same benefits as any entrepreneur.

Come to one or both of the workshops to learn more. In the first workshop, we’ll be talking specifically about how money works in the arts world – because, let’s face it, the whole conversation is about money. In the second workshop, we’ll be talking about the specific skills and tools you need to make entrepreneurship work for you.

It’s completely free, and there’s no catch. I hope the information from the workshops will be valuable for you, and I’ll also tell you about some additional opportunities to learn more.

If you can’t make it to a workshop, or just want to chat, I’m always up for talking with students who want to make a good start in their arts careers. Write to me through the Contact page.

See you soon,

p.s. Read more about my background and interests here.