What do you do if you feel like you're doing everything you possibly can to advance in your art and yet there seems a lack of opportunity? You try and try and yet it's like there's no traction. Where is that "lucky break"?
You have two choices:
1. Complain about the lack of opportunity and become jealous of those around you who seem to be succeeding with such ease. I could so do what they're doing, you think. But you're not. To be honest, you're barely doing what YOU are doing. It's not luck. It's hard work on what is before you right now, no matter how small or big.
2. Make opportunities. Yeah I know. I hear the push back. The truth is though, if you are HUNGRY enough you can take advantage of opportunities all around you. They just aren't those sexy opportunities that thrust you into the public eye with accolades and acclaim. And let's be honest. If we're going to bust our butt, we want it to count for something BIG right?
What I have found is that you might have to redefine your idea of what great opportunities look like.
If opportunity hasn't knocked, start going door to door.
Are you doing work you love? (If not - then get to it. Stop waiting for someone to ask or invite you to do it).
Ok. I'll use myself as an example. Would I like to have my art valued, hung in galleries and sold for a lot of dough, and soak in all that goes along with being a "successful" professional artist? Sure. But I'm not waiting for someone to come knocking. I keep taking the right next step. TODAY (That's my mantra, as you know well if you frequent my blog).
Practically here's what that looks like:
- I committed to a drawing or painting a day for an entire year. April 4th will be an entire year. I have held to that. And even done more some days. Did I do this because some one asked me to? No. I did it to kick to the curb the lie I believed for too long that I because I couldn't draw in a photo realistic style my art was no good. This experience is more valuable than your could possibly imagine.
- I have taken advantage of FREE (and cheap) opportunities. Visit the Sketch book project. Sign up to not only do a sketchbook but every so often they have other projects to join in on. Most recently it was The "Dreadful" Project and it was free to enter. Sign up for a class at a local art center. Take a class from Craftsy.com
- A fellow artist i follow on Instagram decided to do a #100dayproject and asked who might want to join in. (see my previous post) So for the past 21 days I've posted an iPhone sketch of someone else's photo in my Instagram feed. This has been great because I get to keep myself sketching and benefit from brightening up someone's day when I tag them in my post. They often are flattered & think it's way cool. And I even won a t-shirt from one post :)
- A few weeks ago I joined up with the NYC Urban Sketchers group. These are people who just love to draw. They meet up every Saturday in NYC and sketch in various places. Urban Sketchers have groups meeting world-wide. And it's F-R-double-E except when there's an admission to a place they are sketching (like the Central Park Zoo, which was $12 admission).
- Make things for other people. Give your art away. Give some to friends and family. Surprise someone with a handwritten letter and draw on the envelope. You'd be surprised how this could make someone's day. I did a watercolor painting of my daughter as a surprise for her 11th birthday. Your art is a gift, and while you need to make money if this is a career, there are also times when you need to gift it.
- Use social media to share your art. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest - you never know who might be exposed to your art, like it or even share it. It's todays networking. And if you're an introvert, this is great news as you don't have to have the personality of a mayor to connect.
- Look for local venues to display your work. In april, I will have one piece in a show at a local library. In August, I'll have my first solo show at another library. While it's not a SOHO gallery in NYC, it's getting your work out there that counts!
I don't say all this to brag. On the contrary, I say it to show that everyone has opportunity. Sometimes you just have to get creative, or change your perspective. And before you tell me it's easy for me because I'm a "creative professional" - all that I mentioned above has nothing to do with my full-time graphic design job. This is extra.
So, still think there's no opportunity? Get to creating...