What is your current job title? What does your job involve?
I’m currently Arts Editor for Voice Magazine and also a freelance editor and copywriter for various clients. For Voice Magazine my job involves working with our contributors to commission and edit content for the site, curating the editorial content on Arts Award on Voice, updating the Arts Award hub areas to have fresh content and sourcing new and interesting arts content. As a freelancer I work with a number of different clients, often on an ad hoc basis (created or done for a particular purpose as necessary), producing website copy, articles and blog, social media campaigns and sometimes editing books - which I love!
What’s great about your job?
The freedom I get to decide how I want to work and when. That was my main motivation for getting into a freelance career. I love the variety it brings, I never know month to month what projects I might be working on and that’s so exciting to me. I love working in the arts, particularly in literature and working with words all day. I’ve always loved writing and wanted to work as a professional writer, so for me, getting to shape sentences all day is a dream come true. I also love the challenge of finding my own new clients all the time. Although I’m quite a shy person I’ve found I’m different when it comes to work and I enjoy talking to new people about how my freelance work could help them. The bit I like most about working with Voice Magazine is getting to edit lots of great work for some inspirational and motivated young people and hearing what they have to say. I also love approaching other arts organisations and professionals and inviting them to have their voice heard on our website.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
There’s not much I don’t like about my roles. I guess the biggest challenge is working for yourself in your own space when you’re feeling run down or sick. If I was employed I would be able to take a day off and get sick pay, perhaps someone would pick up my work for me and my employers would know that I’m off. Being self-employed and working for a number of different clients there’s no one to help out when I get sick, and if I don’t work I don’t get paid! You definitely have to be self-motivated to be self-employed!
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I’ve had a very varied career but it’s all been involved in the arts in some way. I really enjoyed my time working with The Reading Agency as Participation Manager and getting to shape a national programme to encourage young people to read for pleasure. I came in right at the start of developing the programme and it was great to get my teeth stuck into such a big challenge. The programme turned into Reading Hack and I still love the design work and the creativity and innovation of the programme. I also really loved working for Quartet Books as a Books Editor. I got to work closely with the authors and editing a short story collection, a non-fiction book and a memoir. It was really inspiring getting to work professionally on literature and it’s something I hope to keep doing. One of my earliest career highlights is getting to programme the literature festival for Lancaster Litfest. It was a job I was surprised to get but absolutely loved and got to programme two weeks of activity that happened all over the city.
How did you get into an arts job?Have you also worked outside the arts?
Yes, I’ve worked outside of the arts but always in a role that involved using creativity and writing skills. For example, I used to work for an engineering firm writing their brochures and marketing materials. I think the main thing that helped me get into an arts career was the years I spent volunteering and setting up grassroots arts projects of my own. I wrote about my years of volunteering here and how it helped me get into an arts career. I set up and ran a literature organisation called Bad Language that’s still going strong today and managed and editing for an online magazine called The Cadaverine. There are so many people out there wanting to get into arts careers that I’ve always been of the mindset that I need to prove how passionate I am about working in the arts and making projects happen. It also gave me a chance to show off my skills even if I couldn’t get a paid role yet. I’ve even been told by past employers that my work with The Cadaverine and Bad Language helped me get my job!
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
I can’t think of a specific moment, but I have found going to competitive interviews fear-inducing! Especially for arts jobs because everyone's career path is so varied and personal you never know who you’re up against with what experience. I usually prep but making bullet points on everything I’ve done to date, how I did it and any learnings - whether it’s been through paid or volunteer/self-led work. Never underestimate the value of volunteer or self-led work and always share this experience in interviews - it could be the difference that puts you above the rest.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
If it’s what you’re really interested in, do it anyway. In my experience people often value passion and skills above exact experience, so get involved in your chosen industry/art form in any way you can. Not only will it give you a chance to network and ask others for advice about how to get into your role, you can also develop your skills while your art it and prove your passion. And if someone won’t employ you to do what you love, employ yourself! Don’t be afraid to learn as you go and if there’s something you really want to see happening that’s not, make it happen!
Want more tips on working in the arts? Head on over to Creative Choices, a website filled to the brim with advice on how to get into the arts.
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