As an artist, whether it be in visual art, music, film, or something else, it’s no secret that there is a stigma in our society that portrays jobs in the arts as scarce. It can be discouraging for someone who wants to start their career in this line of business. What many people fail to realize, is that College and University communities are the perfect environments for art students to experiment with business models, and even jumpstart their businesses before they graduate.
To put it bluntly, Universities and Colleges are miniature societies, full of people with different skill sets, coexisting and working together to reach their goals. The catch is that, while many are indeed professionals in the making, the community is still made up of students; people who are still in the learning stages.
What does this have to do with the arts, you may ask? Well, a major part of building an artists name is to find people who want to invest in your product and find a solid audience. As an art student, it would be beneficial to rub elbows with students of other majors, such as business or law students, because these students will eventually become the people who are investing in your films, music, and art exhibits. Basically, it would be greatly beneficial to become friends with your future business partners, and even begin to learn about what kinds of roadblocks you might encounter, so that they are easier to avoid.
Another way to jumpstart your art career is to take advantage of your surroundings. More often than not, Colleges and Universities are located in or near major cities, the places of operation for your independent business. The city you reside in might even be an entirely new city for you, full of unexplored potential. An art student who is serious about their work should consider integrating themselves into the local arts scene, in some way. Host art exhibits, play your music at bars and have screenings of your films. The more you integrate yourself into the local scene, the higher your chances of developing loyal fans.
That being stated, the most important part of being an artist is that you support your own community. While in school, artists will be confronted with a plethora of other types of art and media, with different styles and different origins. This should never be seen as a negative thing, and never seen as a threat to your own work. If anything, competition is the healthiest thing for good business.
A strong, supportive community of artists, who support each other’s events and work, is far more likely to succeed as a collective, than if one individual tries to take on the world going solo. As artists, your first line of support is each other, and working together on projects will greatly enhance the quality of your work. Make the album art for your friend’s new EP. Compose the score for your friend’s new short horror. Document the making of your classmates mural. Share, support, and love each other.
Looking out into the future, a new artist may feel intimidated by the state of the world and question their odds of success. But, although it may not be evident, there is an opportunity in many places in your community to begin your business ventures, and the best example of this is your own campus. Even if you don’t see an immediate spike in interest in your art, it’s important to understand that dedication and networking are the most important parts of any career. These things take time, so it’s a good idea to start while you’re still learning.