A Career in the Arts: Where to Begin – 4 Ways to Get Started Successfully


Starting an artistic career can be daunting. The lack of clear direction and the abundance nay-sayers pushing you towards a “real” career and your back-up plan can sometimes keep you from taking the necessary steps to properly kick-start your career.

Success in the arts requires an unlimited amount of dedication to your work as well as determination. Knowing where to start can help to make things easier.

Here are 4 ways to get your artistic career started successfully: 

1. Education and Training

Receiving proper training in your field is always a good place to begin. Not only do you get the knowledge that you need, you can also make valuable connections that can help you down the road.

Remember, not all training needs to be done in a college or university. Specialized schools, workshops, courses, classes, and mentors can give you the know-how you need.

2. Create/Join a Community

The artistic life can be an isolated and lonely one at times. But it doesn’t have to be. Creating or becoming part of an artistic community can foster your career and lend you the support you need in times of struggle or times of growth.

*cough cough* You could become part of the Canada Arts Connect community by signing up for a free membership.

3. Get Your Name Out There

Actively building your reputation is an effective way to get your career buzzing as well as a great way to find out about less-publicized opportunities. If people know you’re looking and are familiar with you, you not only tend to hear about the opportunities, sometimes the opportunities come directly to you.

Comment on relevant websites, join groups, volunteer, attend conferences and industry events – there are many ways you can become a familiar face and name.

4. Learn More Than the Work, Learn the Business

There’s more to an artistic career than the art. If you want it to be your career, then it will be your business (business vs. art, I know, I know, but it’s necessary at times) and you need to know how the business runs, so you might as well learn from the beginning.

I’m not just talking about financial aspects or marketing (although these are good to know), I’m talking about the ins and outs every industry has that only those inside know about.

How can you learn the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of your profession and craft? Watch those who have been successful before you and listen to what they can pass on, do a (fair) internship to get practical experience, and take any opportunity you come across that gives you an understanding of the intricacies of your industry – learn the ropes before you need to jump on the high-wire.

Do you have any tips for getting an artistic career successfully started? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

* Originally published in an earlier form on CanadaArtsConnect.com.
* Image by Billy Alexander, Flickr.


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