I Met a Guy at a Bar

I met a guy at a bar.  No, this isn’t one of those stories.  It was a sushi bar, and he was getting takeout while I was getting something to eat on the way home.  A few minutes of chatting revealed that J was an “arts worker.” He earned a BS (that’s bachelors of science, not the other kind) in Art from UW-Madison, where, coincidentally, I had been on the faculty for umpteen years.  After studying sculpture and painting as an undergrad, he moved into digital art and now writes, storyboards, and sometimes directs visualization and training films for public and private clients, the largest of which is the US Army. He said he really enjoyed his work, and was sincerely happy to share his story.

The story of J is a good example of a person who uses his talents, skill and training in the arts to build a career, albeit not one he would have envisioned as an art student.  Students enter study in the arts with many dreams and aspirations.  When I was a student, I had a clear and very narrowly focused professional goal in mind that, in hindsight, blinded me to other opportunities.  Today, I advise students to work toward their most ambitious goals, but to do so with their eyes open to the many alternative ways in which their talents and training can be used to support a fulfilling work life.  If J had kept his head down, looking only toward the world of studios and gallery shows, he might not have seen the opportunities that have led to what became an enjoyable and sustainable career.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
This entry was posted in Arts education, Arts entrepreneurship, Higher education and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I Met a Guy at a Bar

  1. Pingback: Career Scaffolding « Indirect Routes

  2. It’s always nice to hear where artists end up and they still get their creative release. Who do you think should start the conversation on career alternatives?

    • lindaessig says:

      Tascheena: That *is* the arts entrepreneurship conversation: learn to recognize opportunity, learn to seize opportunity, minimize your risks in doing so. It’s a conversation that has been happening for the last five years or so at professional association meetings like ATHE, NASM, USITT, CAA but the conversation needs to be had within the curriculum of arts schools as well.

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