On the Friday before Thanksgiving, I was invited into a middle school classroom to speak about building a career in the art business. These were art students just beginning to learn about their professional possibilities, so I spoke mainly about my own art and illustration work, incorporating some of the high points of K.Co's work and entrepreneurship in general that they could relate to.
The ideas that seemed to resonate with them the most were that:
Art can be a business that earns a living. We talked about illustrating for clients, illustrating for customers, and some of the business processes behind creative work.
Art doesn't have to be either/or. You can be an artist and a student, another type of professional or a caregiver. The important thing is that you keep evolving and don't quit.
The qualities for success are similar for both artists and entrepreneurs: Curiosity, Resourcefulness and Professionalism. Can you identify and creatively solve challenges and communicate ideas, and are you ethical and true to your word? These are attributes that anyone can begin cultivating at any time; even students!
I also shared a little about my personal journey from journalism to marketing to corporate tech and then to art. I wanted the students to know that where you start may not be where you finish, and that that's okay. To find lessons learned in their experiences, and if they don't see a seat at the table for them, use those lessons to make their own seat. It's something I am still learning at 43, and hope I can help younger generations of creatives by example.
The classroom was full of work by very promising young artists, and they asked great follow-up questions and were engaged listeners. I hope they remember their art teacher and me when they're famous one day!