Removing the Disguise: Where Your Passion Lies

The modern creative, whether they be painters, sculptors, poets, playwrights, or musicians does not enjoy the peace of mind that many professions provide. That’s not to say that you can’t make a living producing your own creative works, but the road is certainly more treacherous. Where many professions have clear paths to employment (specifically those involved with vocations, trades, and STEM fields), liberal arts require a considerable amount of footwork. Moreover, STEM profession tend to train prospective practitioners on exactly what it is they intend to do for a living. The case is not quite as simple for the breed of people who call themselves creatives.  I know from first-hand experience, that passion doesn’t translate to profit.

During college I chose to study English, and while there are many jobs that look to employ English majors, they aren’t quite specific to the skills that many English majors would learn during their schooling. Jobs like copywriter, content writer, Public Relations specialists, and editors don’t exactly allow those of us got into liberal arts for the love of the art to have a particularly fulfilling work life. In my case, I’ve done the rounds on job board after job board, looking for a career path that would allow me to tap into my creative inclination for poetry and prose. But what I’ve found often, are companies looking for “excellent writers” or “Rockstar editors familiar with real estate industry”. It seems more likely that they aren’t looking for English majors, rather they’re looking for advertising majors, or real estate agents who can write like English majors. Of course, speaking purely from a business standpoint this is the sensible solution. I can’t fault companies for wanting to get more bang for their buck. It simply puts humble students of the humanities like myself in an interesting position.

So more frequently, I’ve been forced to specialize my knowledge into niche career fields. As a result, I know far too much obscure information. SEO best practices, keyword searches, site analytics, it goes on and on, but I say all this to illustrate the need to delay self-gratification in pursuit of a larger pay-off. I’ve gone through the trouble of learning these skills for the sake of the larger dream of producing creative writing. And that’s exactly where the modern creative finds themselves. Like everything else we must evolve. Graphic designers are the new painters. Rappers are the new poets, the playwrights have been usurped by the screen play and streaming platforms, and music…well music is still music (for the most part). Sometimes what’s for you isn’t what’s easy so once you’ve found your passion it up to you to make a way.

 And I know it’s not exactly a revelation to sacrifice for your dreams but what’s most important is living a life that you can reflect on and say that not a moment was wasted. You’ll be able to say that you moved with relentless determination towards your dreams.

I leave you with a final thought. Robert Frost preferred the road less traveled (finally using that English Degree) and if you’re reading this, the case is probably the same for you. It’s got a bit more roadblocks, and it’s a bit scarier but where it leads is sure to make all the difference.

Meaningful Marketing: Why do i create?

I was doing a job application the other day and I was asked to sell myself in 150 words. They called it an elevator pitch. In truth, I was taken aback that someone would ask me to summarize the entirety of my being in 150 words, but after some reflection I simply spoke from the heart. With a bit of research, I managed to spill my guts in as succinct a manner as possible. Then I realized the utility of such a pitch and began thinking of how to apply it to my daily life. What I realized was that if you’re creating any piece of art regardless of the medium and your goal is to make a living off of these creative works, then it’s imperative that you can make the consumer feel what you feel.

Here you are, having created something… let’s say a short film and you’re looking to find someone to pick up or produce the work. Having created the work, you no doubt believe it to be a quality product and you more than likely have some form of attachment to it. Unfortunately, that may not be the case for others. To many, the art we produce is simply aesthetic or is viewed superficially. It’s up to you to get the consumer to understand the vision.

You’ll no doubt have a very specific reason for making the work and have a certain intentionality when crafting it. Still, even the best masterpiece will remain unseen if you can’t get the masses to understand why what you’re doing matters. So, don’t be afraid to speak highly of your work. If you’re a visual artist and you’ve created a painting. Even if it’s just a poorly drawn stick figure, you present it as if you’ve just painted the Sistine Chapel. At times, it can be hard to be confident as it’s often mistaken for cockiness. Still, if there’s ever a time to be proud of your work it’s when you’re showing it to others. So, work on it because you’ll need it.

However, there’s more to an elevator pitch than just being confident in your product. It’s also about selling yourself. People connect with stories. If you can make them feel invested, like they’re a part of something, then you’ll have done your job. I’m not saying lie but play to your strengths…extremely. You should always ask yourself these questions whenever you produce:

  • Who is the work meant to reach?
  • How is this work relatable?
  • How should someone who has just read or viewed the product that you’ve created be left feeling?

You should always know who you are speaking to. Whether it’s a specific person or the entire world, your audience serves to impact the style, form, delivery, or medium you use to impart your message. Secondly, your work must be relatable, otherwise it may go unnoticed. I hate to say it but we’re all narcissists. People tend to tune in when things are relatable. We hate feeling left out and if we don’t get it, we tend not to care.  Lastly, how should the viewer be left feeling after having been exposed to your work. In other words what your purpose? Are you making a statement, telling a story, sparking a movement or all three. There are a million and one reason to create, but until you’ve found yours it’ll be hard to convincingly sell it to others.  Don’t fret if you’re just starting out and you haven’t quite found your reason for creating. Take the time to reflect on your reason for creating, and you’ll find that not only will your work become more marketable but it’ll become more meaningful.