It’s troubling that so many art school graduates have difficulty finding jobs.
In fact, artists and creative people in general have difficulty. Of course, this is due to numerous factors, perhaps the most important of which involves lack of training and skills in lucrative career fields. Most visual artists don’t know how to write computer code or operate on a human brain or any brain for that matter, but isn’t that the case with most of us?
However, I think there’s a larger societal problem here. Society has the problem, not artists. Society just doesn’t trust artists and creatives. In fact, I’d argue that society in general remains secretly afraid of artists. We just don’t know what to do with them. They just don’t “fit in.” Shouldn’t everyone “fit in?” Artists just don’t cave in to convention the way the average human-robot does ... or so, we think.
Artists ask questions, they tend to be independent-minded and they think things through. They don’t just accept the status quo. Artists aren’t usually “yes” men and women. They also work very well on their own which makes insecure bosses nervous. Can’t you just hear it now …
“What is he DOING over there?” your neurotic boss blurts out. “I just don’t know what to DO with him!”
Meantime, the artist is sitting there doing his or her work just like everyone else in the office.
Even in our high-tech, 21st century, supposedly sophisticated world, stereotypes about artists persist. People still see artists as these beatnik, drug-using, bohemian, sex-crazed, free-spirited people who lack drive, discipline and the desire to hold down full-time employment.
Let me just say here that it has been my experience that it’s the super buttoned-up, ultra-respectable folks you gotta watch. I just so happen to be writing this on the very day that it has been announced that former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner is in the middle of yet another sexting scandal.
Hmm. Is Weiner an artist? Perhaps his wife wouldn’t be leaving him if he painted in his free time.
But I digress.
I’m always trying to do my bit to help striving and talented visual artists, so here’s yet another attempt. Employers, you’ve got to OPEN YOUR EYES and see that artists make fantastic employees. Why?
1. BRILLIANCE: Simply put, most dedicated visual artists are simply brilliant. They have natural insight and ways of doing things that are unique and effective. They often approach situations from unexpected points of view which makes them natural problem solvers.
2. FOCUS: Most artists have laser-like focus and can work uninterrupted for hours on important projects. They tend to get things done efficiently and don’t need a lot of hand-holding.
3. CREATIVITY: I didn’t mention creativity first because everyone knows that artists are creative. What you don’t know is that their creativity enables them to learn new concepts and ideas fast and furious. Artists use their creativity to find new pathways and methods. Isn’t this what most employers supposedly want?
4. INDEPENDENT THINKERS: If you REALLY want to get an honest opinion about your project or whatever you’re doing, ask an artist. They’ve got an uncanny ability to go straight to the truth and heart of the matter. They know how to think for themselves. Of course, this trait frightens people, but if you’re a brave and enterprising employer, why not hire and train an artist to do what you need?
5. VISIONARY: This is one of my favorite things about artists. Whenever I introduce an idea to an artist, we begin talking as if the idea already exists in reality. I LOVE this. Artists can already picture whatever the project will or should be. They are “can do” people. This doesn’t mean that they’re always necessarily “on board” with everything, but this visionary-type thinking is an asset everywhere – including the workplace. No?
I could go on and on, but I won’t belabor things. My point is that artists have all of the “soft skills” and tools required to do many jobs that aren’t even related to art. These traits make them highly-trainable for other fields and obviously well-suited for jobs that require creativity and artistry.
Again, artists aren’t the ones with the problem. WE ARE. We need to change how we perceive them. We need to open our minds to possibilities like artists do.
We’re always hearing employers saying they need creative thinkers and problem solvers.
Why not hire an artist?