How to navigate creative careers during a pandemic

Get clued up on creative careers during Covid-19 with this practical guide

How to navigate creative careers during a pandemic

It’s easy to believe the lie that we’ve lost precious months of career progression over this year. However, if lockdown has given us anything, it’s time to reflect. Whether you’re a recent graduate or young creative looking to strike out on your own, we need to reframe how we think about 2020. 

Reframe your mindset

There are many ways 2020 has hurt and hindered, nevertheless we’re now faced with the challenge of transforming our experiences to level up our creative careers. Whatever form your Christmas break may take, set aside some time over the coming weeks to consider if – and how – your career aspirations have shifted as a result of the pandemic. 

To kickstart your reflections, it might be helpful to read what the industry professionals have to say about creative careers. How has this sector changed? Whilst Covid-9 has altered theatre and performance in drastic and obvious ways, you may need to dig a little deeper to find out the effect on creative careers such as graphic design or music production.

The biggest hurdle to jump in reframing our mindset is accepting the alteration that will inevitably come as a result of Covid-19. The arts industry may take a while to return to normal, but rather than perceiving this to be a setback, it simply allows us to gather the skills we need to jump right back into creative careers when able. 

Add to your to-do list:

  • Read 3 articles about how Covid-19 has impacted your sector

  • Set aside time reflecting on how 2020 may have changed your future career. 

Networking

Networking may never have been more pivotal than now. With creative sector jobs arguably decreasing, it’s time to start building your contacts and get clued up on the arts industry in your community. 

First thing’s first: LinkedIn! Whether you’re just starting out in your creative career or have a few years of experience under your belt, this platform is a must for artists. Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn etiquette encourages you to reach out to individuals and actively search for opportunities. Brene Brown writes that, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Here is your gentle encouragement to start building that profile and reaching out at the risk of rejection. 

Pursue film-directors, message visual artists or reach out to graphic designers. If you’re unsure of the best approach, why not ask the individual to suggest some skills they perceive as vital in their industry? Spark a conversation and, if they live in your community, don’t be afraid to offer a coffee to chat further – providing it’s safe to do so! 

Add to your to-do list:

  • Make a LinkedIn profile and aim to get seen. 

  • Create a list of people who inspire you, and try reaching out. 

Grow your skillset

“You can’t use up creativity - the more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou.

And this is exactly why we love creative careers! If we can get into the habit of growing our creative aptitude with soft and practical skills, our natural creativity will increase as a result. 

On the practical side, it could be that learning a particular software will both stimulate your imagination and come in handy when applying for jobs in a particular field. Practising creative writing and copywriting on a regular basis may also increase your affinity for the written word, which frequently crops in arts sector roles. Check out this Dazed article for more ideas on how to upskill your artistic practice during the Christmas break. 

One way to frame this creative and professional practice is to embark on a focussed project. This could include making your own works of art – visual, written or otherwise – or completing a project for a family member that will help you engage with the skills you’ve outlined. Personal projects will also enhance soft skills such as time-management, organisation and proactivity which are essential for successful creative careers

Add to your to-do list:

  • Make a list of all the potential skills you might need. Pick two to work on over the next six months. 

Prioritise wellbeing

It’s surprisingly easy to hit burnout during lockdown. Several dangers crop up as a result of our limited social scope: we don’t socialise, fail to get fresh air outside, mess up our sleep schedule to the point of unproductivity. 

Todd Henry, founder of The Accidental Creative, writes that, “One thing about creative work is that it’s never done.” Have you ever experienced the feeling of a never-ending creative task? The same can be true of those who are prepping for a career in the creative sector: there is always more work that can be done.   

Hustling towards a creative career should be fun, rewarding and yes, at times frustrating, but it should never be at the cost of your wellbeing. As you begin reframing your mindset and setting out goals at the end of 2020, why don’t you also use the holiday season to unwind and check your mental health

Consider a social media detox, set yourself an exercise plan for the holidays or pick up a new book to help focus your mind on something other than career prospects. If you have a similarly creative-minded friend, it may be useful to become accountability buddies as you traverse the world of the creative sector, and keep in touch to discuss both the professional and personal strains of hustling in a creative career. 

Add to your to-do list:

  • Ask a creative friend to work through a book about how to maintain wellbeing as an artist. 

  • Set yourself an achievable exercise routine. 

If you’re looking for more resources, why not take a look at The Voice Magazine Podcast where we interview career professionals on a weekly basis.

Header Image Credit: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Author

Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Sienna is the Voice Assistant Editor and author of the Creative Education series. A de-caf coconut-milk latte gal who spends most of her time in Cambridge cafes, Sienna is currently on a gap year before studying History of Art at the University of Cambridge.

Instagram: sienna_jamez

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