Working at something you love...
This is my first post here. It really is a pity but I hope to have many more in the coming months. I have been working for a financial institution in Canada for around five and a half years now and the day before my twenty-fifth birthday I found out that my Branch is merging and I am out of a job. A day before my birthday, people!! Needless to say, I was very upset. Not twenty-four hours later I got a call from Michael Havers Director at Progressive Fine Art in Mississauga to come in for an interview ASAP! I did a smashing job of impressing him and got the position on the spot! So exciting! Not only was this a career in my field (these are very few and far between) but it is a totally different experience then what I was getting. I am involved with a number of Galleries in Hamilton and the surrounding communities. Most of these galleries are artist-run centers or public galleries. Progressive Fine Art (PFA) is a commercial gallery that represents artists from all over North America! What a fantastic opportunity for someone like me, right??
I am about two weeks into my position of Registrar at PFA and I am loving it. Not only am I inspired by my surroundings but I am inspired by the people that I meet on a daily basis (i.e. internationally famous artists, arts professionals, design professionals and independent art collectors, to name a few). I feel like a sponge. All of the art that comes into the gallery is seen by me first. I photograph and document the work in our database and on our website. I am learning so much everyday and I am loving every minute of it.
Staying involved in your community is the best way to build your network. I was fresh out of school and I (like everyone else) thought that I would have a job as soon as I walked out the door. I was wrong. I have been working with galleries and art professionals for two years now and I can say that I have made a positive influence in my community. I have built an impressive and reliable network of art professionals by volunteering for projects and committees and boards and the list goes on. This is key! You cannot expect to come out of school and think that every gallery (or whatever) is going to want you because you have a master's degree in this and the best qualifications in that. With every passing month (or year) you get more and more afraid that it is never going to happen for you. You have to go with the flow, man! You have to demonstrate your character and build your experience from the ground up. Ain't nobody want to hear that shit; but it's true. Work your ass off and show commitment and maybe you will get somewhere. We all have goals but it takes a particular person to actually reach them all. I am that person or at least I like to think I am. I will push for what I want because I know that I can reach it some day and that I know it is something to fight for.
Now that I am in my field I have a lot more opportunities to grow and succeed. My connections are plentiful and this makes me happy. Building your network is the only way you can survive in the art community. A very smart woman told me once that the art community is like a debutant society, the more people that know your name and know what you do the more likely you are to succeed. Believe me, I do not profess to know a lot about "the business" but that doesn't mean that I can't provide some advice on how to get started.
In my humble opinion (hehe), you are supposed to love what you do and be inspired by your surroundings. That is the point!! Otherwise, what the hell are you doing but drowning? Ill tell you right now its not about the money (at least not all about it). You cant think that the money is going to make you happy because working for 20, 30, 40 years is going to wear on you. Be smart and plan for your future because the way things are going these days doesn't look like we are going to have a pension and a retirement date like the generations before us. Unfortunately, stress seems to be unavoidable but at least you will feel fulfilled and excited about where your life is leading you. Its an adventure, folks! So, travel to Italy (to be continued in future blogs) and breathe it in. Take a Siesta! I feel incredibly lucky to have the support of my friends and family but in the end it is all on you. Its not fate, luck or coincidence. You make it, you build it and believe me it is more rewarding to think of it that way. Be proud of who and what you are. To quote Sartre, "existence precedes essence". Push it to the limits and rock the world!
Just a recap:
1) Figure out what you love
2) Build your professional network and invest your time to establish your character
3) Go with the flow, Man!
4) Research and improve
5) Be realistic about your goals and plan for your future
6) Never stop building on your experience
7) Travel! - cause it teaches you way to much ; )
8) Be yourself and take ownership and responsibility (but not in a cocky way- no one likes that shit)
Talk to you soon,
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Artist, critic, advocate of adventure and aesthetic extraordinaire.