Job Hacks: I’m an artist and I don't know what to do with my life
I’m an artist, I graduated, I was a waiter. My career seems to have no way out. What can I do?
I am an artist too and I am not making this article with the pretense of having found the ultimate hack for life, quite the contrary. I am simply very good at finding alternative ways to plug the holes of my non-existent career; I’m bored and I need to keep myself perpetually busy but at the same time I can’t ever finish almost anything that I start to create.
I’ve noticed that many artists share my same problems, so what to do? Where to start? How to boost your career?
I want to share with you what I have and I haven't been able to do in these postgraduate years and the small channels that I have found as outlets. I hope it can help those like me find some inspiration.
1. RELOCATE- I recommend Paris
Staying in the same place certainly does not help, it’s hard enough to be an artist in any place in the world, but being an artist in Italy is much more difficult.
Here, you’ll find yourself making art for yourself or for collectives with even less development expectations than your personal ones. The idea of finding an internship or a job in the art field is a more unique than rare dream, therefore you can either really wallpaper yourself as an artist or enter the world of art in adverse ways - doing something that you are passionate about anyway - it is a lot, and often very difficult.
My first tip, therefore, is to roll up your sleeves and relocate. I have lived in many countries and, if I had to give one specific advice, it would be to go to Paris. Why Paris? For now, out of all the places I have lived, it seemed to be the only large metropolis on a human scale. In Paris, you can still find real human contact and communication; consequently, artists are also considered with another eye, giving them the possibility to be noticed, and talented young people are often offered opportunities even without any previous work experience - for example, by making a comparison with London, which NEVER I would recommend to a novice artist, although it is often the first place to go. If you want to move to London to develop your artistry, I would recommend waiting until you have a bit of a reputation in the field.
In France, there is a site called ProfilCulture that I found to be very useful: it’s a platform that offers internships and jobs specifically in the art world, divided into sectors such as cinema, photography, media etc. And no, I didn't go to France knowing how to speak French - I spoke barely two words but I did five interviews hardly managing to pronounce ‘how are you’. Yet, they called me back, and even accepted me in most cases! This is to tell you that there really are opportunities for everyone, regardless of language barriers.
After living in Paris for a few months, I managed to have an internship in a prestigious gallery and another in an art, fashion and design magazine; all this after just arriving in the country and almost without speaking the language. This is why I recommend moving there and I can confirm that it really is one of the most open and accessible cities for international artists.
2. PARTICIPATE IN COMPETITIONS
I’m a photographer but over the last few years I have also started making animations. Obviously, this suggestion depends a little on what kind of art you produce, but I must say that if in photography I’ve never found satisfactory results from the phantom competitions - and I would explain with: too many requests, mafiates and too much competition - participating instead in film festival festivals with my shorts, I had really positive results.
I recommend sending your films or shorts through Filmfreeway, it’s a platform that works great and offers opportunities for all tastes and costs - there are a thousand other ones that are free and some are paid. My shorts have been shown in various festivals in different parts of the world and I'm not even a professional! So I highly recommend trying to get some visibility.
(my latest short, if you are interested)
3. ENTER THE ART WORLD THROUGH ALTERNATE ROUTES
Going back to the first point, I advise not to focus only on selling your works. Some of you surely dream of living as a real artist, but the world has changed and almost nobody lives off of being just an artist. Anyone today can be an artist, anyone can do a little bit of everything so you shouldn’t limit yourself to having one single talent. Unless you really want to fuck yourself over, you need a few more skills.
Having something on the side, whether it's your own company/project or working for someone, is not very easy but it is an excellent vehicle for making yourself known in the field. There are various options such as art directing, working for art magazines, jumping into graphic design or maybe opening something of your own like a small gallery or agency.
Being an artist will always be beautiful but unfortunately, in the 21st century, too many are able to do what you do with the aid of technology. Every day Instagram displays works just as beautiful as yours and people become famous from shorts made with an app from their mobile phone and so on - we need to do more to be complete, to then take ourselves seriously in what really interests us.
4. JOIN A RESIDENCY
In Italy few artists participate in residencies but I find them to be one of the few vehicles (almost) pure enough to make your art known without having to resort to social media or setting up your own show where you spend a lot of money and only 5 of your friends show up to.
Residencies are truly a wonderful space to meet, develop and communicate with other artists. Try to explore and send some curriculums on ARTJOBS, a platform that publishes a variety of residence opportunities for artists around the world. You may have a chance to turn around and start building a serious portfolio.
Residencies are also excellent for networking and adding something relevant and prestigious to your CV - which is useful, if not fundamental, both for when you participate in competitions, for future exhibitions, and for any kind of job application in the art world. And, if you go big and have some experience, maybe they'll take you to a residency in a university and you can get paid for your project - personally, I find that residency programs work very well in London rather than Paris.
5. PLACE YOUR WORKS IN AN ONLINE GALLERY
I have never done this personally but I know a few people who have adopted this method and have found that it objectively works very well! Sometimes you have to pay, sometimes you can find free platforms. In any case, it’s a great way to advertise your art and get in touch with international artists and collectors.