Have you ever kept a special something on top of your bookshelf to look back and remember an extraordinary moment of your life? and then have forgotten to actually look back?
I was proud of my Master’s degree which I earned after two of the most intense years of my life. I Kept that on my bookshelf which sits right next to my bed, but only looked at it after months.
How dumbfounded was I the day I received this degree. Sitting at the chai adda one last time, sipping on milky tea I was stressing out. A feeling that will resonate with many fresh arts graduates.
I am 22, I have an arts degree and I need to support myself financially. How?
I started my career with a knee-jerk reaction to that question. I joined the first place where I interviewed. The designation said writer and this job paid, what else would I want!
I wouldn’t get a job in a media house because I didn't have a mass comm degree. I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills with writing internships. Couldn't wait till one of my short stories shot me to success. Being a “writer” in a corporate world was the midway.
After a month came the moment of my breakdown.
I hated being where I was (ungrateful young brat!), I felt my creativity was being stifled. I did not feel like I was allowed to be a writer. How could I find a job where I got creative liberty and money both?
So here is the revelation, if you want to do it the Manto way, you will probably have to wait for years till you see any real money. If you want to do it the modern way, below is my life lesson:
Find a lucrative job where your creativity will be allowed to breathe. There are many out there in the current corporate scenario (links below for a list of options).
How do you do that?
Identify the economic potential in your artistic capabilities and then find jobs where you can translate the same to achieve organisation's goals. You have visual arts skills? Be a visual storyteller for brands, write storyboards, create value for them with your skills. You have music skills? Find brands that are looking for fresh voices, make exceptional music for them, get them to think of you as invaluable. And so on.
For example: I was a writer who wrote for social media and blogs, a writer that told stories but also sold products. I found a marketing job (which pays) where I was asked to write social media content, micro blogs, articles, presentations etc. about child rights activists and the children we met. Nothing can be as rewarding as having children bare their hearts to you, especially an underprivileged child who doesn’t have anyone documenting their every move on Instagram.
Now I get hired for being a social impact writer. I am loving every work I did in the last two years. Writing for social issues is also filled with its challenges, but none keep me from feeling like and being a writer.
Bottom line: in today’s job market people are open for creativity, KPMG hires people to use their graphic/visual arts skills for behavioural change at work, Genpact hires writers and actually publishes papers that are captivating to read.
Don’t lament that the world doesn’t reward artists. World is unfair, let’s move on. Give the world more reasons to reward your art and learn from you.
That’s how you build a career as an artist that pays. Happy job hunting.