Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time Management for Creative Types

By David Rodriguez
As the Internet develops and the world's economic situation changes, creative professionalism in the form of freelance work is becoming a viable option for many of us.
But while most of us creative professionals excel in our craft, many of us find it difficult to balance the business side of things. Writing, art, and other forms of composition are abstract; they challenge us and enable us to create, which we tend to enjoy. Business is all about hard numbers and time management, which couldn't be more different from the free-floating creativity that we all use every day.

Time management is important for us and it's good to realize that the old saying is true: "time is money." Many potential freelancers are turned away by the thought of having to manage the business element, but in reality time management is much easier to maintain than you might think.

Keep a whiteboard.
Get a whiteboard from your local office supply store and mount it on your wall. Every morning, write your to-do list on it. Start from the top and start crossing things off.

Outline on paper.
If you are a writer, it may be tempting to skip the outlining process and just write from scratch. Some individuals can work this way, but for most of us, it's faster and more productive to outline. Also, it may be tempting to write your outline on your computer, but do yourself a favor and get in the habit of outlining on paper. On paper, you will feel more "mobile" and not so much like you're nailed to your computer chair all day.

Maintain a clean workspace.
When your eye picks up clutter, your brain has to spend time actively ignoring it. Keep things organized and you can work smoothly.

Early and often.
When it comes to your e-mail or your voice mail, check it early in the day, and check it often. You never want to keep a client waiting, and you'll feel good about getting things done.

The general idea behind all these tips is to keep your brain from having to think by not letting thoughts "back up" in your mental pipeline. If you keep your to-do list in the back of your head all day, and you're surrounded by clutter, and there's the worry that you haven't checked your e-mail yet, you obviously cannot create effectively.
But if you are in a clean environment and everything you have to do is written on your whiteboard, your brain is free to do what you do best: create.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Looking for Jobs Online

I'm sure you've noticed that most online job hunting sites are not geared toward art jobs. They are looking for business or technical people. Because of this, most people looking for creative jobs usually turn to craigslist or other community sites. Here are some other places to take a look online.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Managing Your Personal Brand

I know this isn't something most artists want to think about, but it's not as complicated as it seems. Your brand is the impression people get when they first meet you or see your work, and it's what they will remember you for. It's easiest to break it up into two parts: image and reputation.
Assuming you already have a reputation in the community, the first thing to be aware of is to know who you are and how both peers and potential customers view you. This is a good starting point so you can enforce certain perceptions and (if need be) play down others. It's easiest to get honest feedback from close friends, but you shouldn't rely on them totally because they know you best and are biased.
Once you know where you stand, you can check your reputation within your community to find who are your best supporters and who is your competition. One of the most important things in reinforcing your brand is consistency. Your art, your dress, and your interactions should all portray the same message (unless your reputation for being unpredictable and erratic is what sets you apart and makes sales!). You should be working to differentiate yourself so that people remember you as opposed to another artist.
In personal presentation, it's hard to find much guidance for artists on what to wear. Most advice targets business students going into an interview or professionals giving a presentation. For creative people, the rules are much different. To be honest, there are no rules. Aside from bathing infrequently, it really doesn't matter as long as it is consistent with your brand. A rock musician can wear a scruffy t-shirt and jeans, but most fashion designers couldn't because they are expected to be more adventurous in their dress. The topic is really personal to each individual, which makes it difficult to provide clear examples.
To sum up:
Your brand is your reputation, and your image needs to be consistent in your art, your clothes, and the way you interact with people. Once you have figured out what your brand is, reinforce it everywhere you or your work appears so you will be remembered.
A lot of times your brand happens by accident, but you will have an advantage if you understand who you are and what other people think of you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Starving Artist No More

Anyone who's an artist has had trouble finding a job at some point or another. I'm going to try to help you with your search through this blog. I'll try to cover every topic from managing your personal brand to creative resume tweaks. I might not be able to cover it all, but I'll do my best. Whether you're into animation, interior design, or want to get a job in web design or acting, this site is for you. If you have any requests for topics I didn't cover, shoot me an email and I'll try to give you some tips in a new post.