The Opportunity

Clawing for Creativity / Kerry Jackson
Clawing for Creativity / Kerry Jackson

There’s a revolution of sorts that’s been taking place for a long time now. Technology has affected artists of every discipline in so many ways. Let’s face it: the “traditional” ways of earning a living through the arts are breaking down. And by “traditional” I really only mean the 20th Century ways: galleries, non-profit theater and dance companies, etc. Don’t get me wrong: these institutions are not going away by any stretch of the imagination. But job openings in these institutions are far more competitive and pay far less than they have in the past.

These changes have come about thanks, in part, to technology. Artists of every skill level (including no skill level) today are far more empowered than ever to create art and sell it (or just show it off) without the “benefit” of institutional curation. For many highly skilled, professional artists competing among a sea of hundreds of colleagues at a time for a single position, you could very well say the sky is falling.

But there are far more opportunities available than there are jobs disappearing. The disappearing jobs may be coming about thanks in part to technology, but so are the opportunities. As an artist, you have something just as important as your talent. You also have the discipline that it took to develop that talent, and a creative process that is highly valued and sought-after.

The gallerists, the artistic directors, the conductors, and all those other gatekeepers just don’t have much room to care about beyond your final products and their bottom lines. Many do care, but they face a constant battle between the concerns of individual artists and those of the institutions. What you have to offer the world is far more than your final product. Take a moment to consider a few questions:

  • What is my creative offering? Is there a consistent theme to my art in terms of content? Or, is there a consistent creative process that I apply to many themes?
  • If I have a consistent theme in terms of my content, who does that theme appeal to? Is such a person likely to be found in a gallery, nonprofit theater, or other arts venue?
  • If I have a consistent process that I use, where else can that process be applied, other than creating my own art? Can I use that process to help a community or a business solve an important issue they are tackling?

These are not lightweight questions, obviously. For some artists, these questions can take years to figure out. The idea of entrepreneurship in the arts is to find the answers to those questions through execution. What ideas have you tried out along the way? What have you learned along the way?

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