Ignite Your Creative Career
Instead of waiting for someone else to recognize your talent and skill, it’s time to ignite your creative career! You need more than just purpose, and passion. It is essential that you are proactive. Too many creatives spend time waiting to be discovered, when there are practical steps they can take to move their career forward. We need to get real: Talent is not enough. Connections are not enough. Part of your job as a creative is to make your own break, and create the opportunities where you can get your break. This isn’t true just for young, emerging artists and it isn’t just for film and TV actors. This principle is true for artists and creatives of all ages and genres of art and entertainment.
How do you get ahead in the art world or the entertainment and media industries?
First, Be Excellent.
As Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Excellence is not a silver bullet, and it never will be, but it is a requirement. Without excellence you are not honoring God by developing the skills he gave you, and without excellence you won’t earn the right to be seen, heard, and paid for your talents. If you have thought excellence is enough, check out our video here to get a deeper understanding of the issues.
Whatever you do, don’t blame failure on others. Don’t make excuses. Don’t rest on yesterday’s successes. Find a way to be a cut above, and don’t compromise.
There is a massive fallacy out there that the typical path for an artist or creative to “make it” is really about artists getting discovered. If you’ve been in Hollywood for any amount of time you know that’s a lie. As they say now, “it takes about 10 years to become an overnight success.” Ten years! Why? because you have to pay your dues, develop your craft, network, and be ready when the opportunities come your way.
But think about- if you dedicate 10 years of your life to something, then you can master any craft, any skill, or any technique. After 10 years you should be so good they can’t ignore you! It’s like the 10,000 hours rule written about by Malcom Gladwell. Spend enough hours on any skill and you can become a master.
Don’t wait for an agent, a gallerist, a producer, venture capitalist, or other gatekeeper to find you. Get resourceful and find ways to meet them, to get exposure for your projects and your talents.
Second, Cut Through the Noise
Long gone are the days when the talented naturally rise to the top (whether that was ever true is another discussion). Whatever was in the past, today there is no academic degrees that guarantee success and no job that guarantees longevity. There is also no neutral playing field where patrons, agents and managers fight for the obviously talented and the most promising. We live in a world full of noise where many talented men and women are overlooked and left behind.
This applies to all types of art at every level. And it is why you can’t wait to be discovered.
If you are a visual artist, create a website, start posting on social media, and start showing your art in coffee shops, restaurants, or businesses.
If you are musician, start performing, start writing, and start networking. Find collaborators, and find any creative way to set yourself apart, without compromising what makes you unique.
Are you a writer…organize a staged reading for your screenplay, or a chapter of your novel.
If you are an actor, make a great reel, create your own showcase, and do what it takes to get an agent’s attention. Look at what other successful artists do in your field and start playing the game wisely.
Third, Think and Act Like an Entrepreneur
Whether you are just starting out, you are in the middle of some great successes, or you are coming back to your art after a hiatus, you need to think about how to create your own opportunities. Even if you are so good they can’t ignore you, they still need to find you. This requires an entrepreneurial mindset. An entrepreneurial mindset asks questions about the marketplace in which you are competing. It considers:
- How can I finance my next project?
- How can I get introduced to gatekeepers?
- How can I make my work marketable?
- How do I price my talents and my work wisely?
It is all too easy to think that we grow beyond this need to think like an entrepreneur, but that is naïve. Even the most successful among us keep pivoting and “making their own break” because they think and pivot like entrepreneurs.
What did Reese Witherspoon when she wasn’t getting offers to do the kinds of movies she wanted? She wanted to change the way women were portrayed in media, so she found partners and started her own production company, Hello Sunshine, which eventually sold for $900 million.
How does Sylvester Stallone still get movie roles? As he got older, the offers dried up. After a solid career, if he wanted to get more work, he had to create his own. What did he do? He wrote the scripts for the Expendables so he could star in them.
Whatever your type of art, use your creativity in the business side of your art as much as you do in the craft side. Take the time to brainstorm with friends and find new ways for getting exposure and financing your projects. Take risks. Adapt, pivot, iterate. And realize this is the ongoing process you need to embrace if you are going to succeed.
Fourth, Pursue Your Creative Life Holistically
In order to flourish as a human being, your professional and creative life must be pursued in concert with your spiritual life. This sounds obvious, but if we are honest, we recognize the temptation to compartmentalize our faith. Why is this dangerous? If you approach your creative projects apart from your faith it will lead to compromise and a corrosion of your soul. So don’t just pour all your energy into your art and neglect the rest of who God called you to be. If that is your struggle… I can’t encourage you enough to take our Artists Calling Course – which has helped so many creative professionals to figure out how to balance your creative life and the rest of your life- family, friends, and your spiritual life. Don’t sacrifice everything else on the altar of your creative career.
You may be asking yourself – where do we see this in the Bible? Well, let’s take a look at Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. (Matt 25:14-30) In the parable of the talents, God rewards those who are wise and strategic. He rewards the ones who take risks. The one who won’t take risks is the one God does not bless.
Jesus does not call us to be passive and wait to be recognized. Jesus calls us to take risks, to develop our gifts and invest our talents where we may see a great return.
It is simply incongruent with scripture to believe God wants us to live a life of safety, passivity and ‘waiting’ to be discovered.
Jesus called us to be both “innocent as doves, and shrewd as serpents.” Far too many believers act as if Christ told us to be “innocent as doves, and gullible as geese.” Not sure where this came from. It may be a leftover from a pietistic over-spiritualization, but it is absolutely not from God, and is not found in the Bible. Jesus called us to be wise, strategic, take risks, and to step out in faith, not to sit back in fear.
If Jesus sat down with the typical creative today, I think He would remind us of the parable of the talents and ask us, “What have you done with the gifts I have given you? Where did you take risks and how have you worked hard to develop your talents and turn them into something much more valuable?” I could imagine Him putting His hand on our shoulder and saying, “…and don’t fear. I am with you.” And if we have ears to hear we will recognize that He is not just with us to save our souls. He is with us everywhere. He is with us in the studio. He is with us when we face the blank canvas, the blank paper, or even the bad script that needs serious rewrites. He is with us in the negotiations, the meetings with lawyers to protect our work, and in the quiet moments where we cry out for His wisdom and His presence. He is always there.
Conclusion: Get Started. Now!
Don’t sit there and read five more blogs.
Don’t listen to the voices saying you aren’t good enough, or that God isn’t really with you. Those are the voices of the enemy. You need to rebuke those voices. You need to stop waiting and you need to start making the most of what God has given you.
But before you move forward, I want to help you understand that you have a choice in this moment. It is not enough to decide to get started. The real question is, “How are you going to get traction in your career, while growing deeper spiritually?” This exciting and challenging journey can be embraced in one of two ways:
First, The Lonely Journey:
You can start by researching the best in your field and how they found success. You can research the latest techniques for people in your industry for making a living at their art, and you can stay isolated while you research and try to follow these steps. It can be done, but to be honest, too many people give up before they ever arrive at their destination. You were never meant to live life or develop your creative career alone. It is a hard road. Or… you can try another way:
Second, The Journey Taken Together:
If you want to take this journey with other creatives, led by a seasoned creative coach and mentor, then you should sign up to get notified the next time we offer our online Catalyst Course, so you can get serious about taking your career to the next level. There is no substitute for personal mentoring along the way. There is no substitute for real, practical coaching along the way. And there is no substitute for taking that journey with other creatives who are struggling with the same challenges.
Our Catalyst Course has the resources you need. Don’t miss the opportunity.
The one thing God does not want you to do is to keep waiting to be discovered.
Don’t live in fear. Don’t get lost in the paralysis of analysis. Get out there and find creative ways to get to patrons, fans, and investors who would love to support your talent and vision. If you already have the resources and habits to make it, be thankful! If we can be of help, check out our Catalyst Course.
Whatever you do: Stop waiting to be discovered. Start taking risks.
And never forget that you are not alone. God is with you.
I’d love to hear from you:
What would help your career the most right now?
What advice are you looking for?
What would you ask a creative coach if you could ask them one question?
Post your comments down below
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