A career in the arts isn't as straight forward as others, but if you remain focused on your goals there's nothing you can't achieve.
One of the most common questions that kids are asked is, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Stereotypes would have you believe that for boys, the answer is often a fireman, and for girls a world famous ballerina. But as people grow childhood dreams are left behind with the Barbie dolls and GI Joes. Who we want to be when we reach adulthood changes with our tastes, influences and ability.
The would-be ballerina could find herself more interested in contemporary dance by adolescence, the fireman might realise he’d rather be a folk singer. Deciding your career trajectory is hard enough, but walking an artistic or creative path is arguably even that little more difficult. Clichés are clichés for a reason, and the starving artist stereotype exists because for many of us it’s a ravenous reality. It’s difficult to concentrate on exploring your artistic dreams when you’re just scraping by.
But then there are all those musicians, writers and artists who make it, achieving meteoric success and innumerable riches. So what sets these people apart from those that struggle in obscurity for years? While luck and talent are undeniably important factors, another aspect is focus. And you can’t afford to lose that.
Too often external aspects hinders us from pursuing our dreams, the most obvious example is of course money. It’s easy to skip an audition or rehearsal because you’ve got to work and make dollars. But how often do you choose to sweat and toil away at something you loathe while your passions wither? Art takes practice, no matter your medium, and if you’re going to be the next Pollock you’ve got to pull your finger out.
We’re certainly not advocating quitting your job, but having enough devotion to your dream that you’re willing to dedicate time to it every day. How much depends on you and your medium, but if you resolve yourself to routinely practice the idea will always be at the forefront of your mind. Pierre Henry
, the acclaimed French composer and electronic music pioneer told us one of the top skills to becoming a musician is “Being entirely devoted to music constantly.” The man would know – he’s been making music since 1942 and is still at it.
Backing up this claim is Emilie Autumn, the internationally acclaimed cabaret provocateur, who told us “Practice until your fingers/throat/whatever are bleeding and you’ve sacrificed any shred of a social life, become an undeniable master of your craft, but most importantly, and without which all of that won’t matter a bit, be interesting. Have a point of view. Have an opinion.”
Indeed, it’s often common for artists to hold down a few day jobs to make ends meet, like Perth songstress Felicty Groom
, who wanted to be a scientist initially and works in school care on the side. An artist dedicated to her craft, when we spoke to Groom she told us about a story that applies to those who pursue a creative dream.
Some actor came to my school when I was young and gave me the most hilarious advice about acting and it kind of stuck with me and I think it applies to the arts in general. I can’t remember who said it, but they looked at the class of eager faces wanting to hear the best way to succeed in the very fickle world of performing arts and they said ‘if you want to do it, don’t do it. If you really want to do it… still don’t do it. If you have to do it… go for it’…. And I believe that would help someone in the music world too, because if it’s something you have to do…well you’re going to try to do your bloody best at it.
Which raises a good point. Are you sure this is actually your dream? A career in the arts can be fashionable when you’re young, but the reality of a life with paint-specked clothes is often difficult for many to deal with. If you’re not compelled to create art, is there any point in forcing yourself to be something you’re not? Aside from losing focus and finding yourself forty-five working a job you hate, are you sure that you’ve even found your focus?
Another good way to keep focused is to be involved in the arts community. Attend events, network and see what others are creating and share your experiences with one another. This creates a sense of camaraderie and with links in the arts sector you’ll be continually inspired. Often you can find listings in newspapers for events in your city, and even right here at ArtsHub.