Are you a student of fine art? Or an artist trying to get jobs just to pay off rent? Freelancing is not for everybody, and it’s certainly not easy to find a steady flow of job opportunities. More and more artists are turning to full-time work in advertising or product development for that stable salary, but finding work in this expertise is becoming increasingly competitive, even within larger corporations.
It’s been commonly argued that trying to get a job in the arts in today’s corporate world is 40% skill and 60% branding, and this fact continues to loom true as we begin to see more and more companies outsource their design work to professionals in other countries to exploit the lower costs. With website design and development work costing as low as £250 when outsourced abroad, local artists are finding that it’s becoming more and more challenging to stand out against the competition, especially when you’re just starting out.
It’s all about branding
Brands aren’t just for products and corporations; it’s for artists too. Nowadays the hiring process in the arts industry is not so much about possessing the right skillset and experience, but more of how you market yourself and your work, and how your personal brand can support and further develop a company’s business objectives. Be clear about what you want to do and what you can do, and stick to it. Make sure your CV and online portfolio reflects how you want to market yourself. Are you an organized worker? Then your CV and portfolio better highlight that. Are you a font artist? Then showcase that you have a flair with fonts on your own website. Be selective about the information you include or exclude; whatever you present should be relevant and reflect your personal brand. Your CV and portfolio are a key way of proving to potential employers that you can do the work that you claim you can do.
Be specific about what you do
Are you into minimalist work? Do you specialize in illustrations? Versatility and the ability to create a range of work may give you an edge over others if you’re working with more than a single client, but most companies are looking for a specific style and “energy” to match their business strategies. When applying to a company, be conscious of whether your personal branding suits the company. An artist speciailizing in monotone-coloured work may not be suitable for a company that wants to create youthful products for children. Vice versa, a company that focuses its business in-store may not be looking for web design artists. Do your research- not just on the company, but on yourself and your work as well.
It’s a little ironic that you have to advertise yourself in order to get that advertising job you’ve been eyeing, but it is a sure-fire way of establishing the networks you have and creating an effective online presence within the industry. Connections are everything. Set up an Instagram account or a blog showcasing pieces of your work and work towards growing a loyal following of artists that engage in similar work. Put your personal branding to good use and leverage on any opportunity to collaborate with others and attract attention to the work you do. Research on search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing tips to increase the clicks you get on your pages. Widespread attention takes time to build, but be patient and trust in your work and your brand. With a loyal support base and a consistent inflow of work, your personal brand will stand out, and you can even stop worrying about getting that job because potential employers may just come straight to you.
Post by Faezah Zulkifli
Faezah is a theatre artist and writer born in Singapore. She graduated with a BA in English and is currently based in London as an MA student at the Central School of Speech and Drama.