Top 10 career articles of all time

ArtsHub dips into our vaults to unearth the most popular career advice stories we've ever published.
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Here at ArtsHub we strive to provide our readers with the skills and knowledge required to help you your dream job or cultivate your artistic career. Over the years we have investigated a myriad of ways for people to achieve their goals.

Below we present a list of the ten most read ArtsHub career advice articles of all time. 

10. Want success? Then give up these 20 things

Rather than skilling up, we suggest toning down for success.

Conventional thought is that in order to successfully promote your career you need to boost your education, your skills and your network. ‘Take it on and you will conquer,’ is the mantra.

But it might be the opposite that puts you on a more rewarding path. Contemporary thinking has pitched the idea that if we give up certain things, it leaves greater space to grow and de-clutter our ambitions. Let up on yourself a little and you just might shine.

Read: Want success? Then give up these 20 things

9. Could you be a creative consultant?

As creativity becomes capital, paving a career as a creative consultant may help you harness your arts and humanities based skills to sustain a fulfilling profession.

Salvador Dalí created classic paintings of the 20th Century but he also designed furniture, ties, magazine covers and even the Chupa Chups wrapper.

It is an example general manager for Network Ten and former ad-man Russell Howcroft drew on recently when he promoted the idea of the commercialisation of creative skills at a Wheeler Centre event.

‘[Dalí’s Chupa Chups design] confirmed in my mind that the arts community ought to be attaching themselves to commercial enterprise and commercial enterprise ought to attach itself to the arts. 

‘In commerce you need people who are genius at the arts because they are the ones who will create a difference because of their skills.’

While convincing corporates to buy into creative can be difficult, Howcroft was adamant about its value. ‘That’s the x-factor around creativity, it sort of sells the unsellable really.’

But even if you are convinced that your creative skills are valuable, how can they actually translate into tangible job outcomes?

Read: Could you be a creative consultant?

8. 50 ways to land a job in the arts

Leading arts professionals share ideas on how to break into the industry that don’t include working for free.

With no set career trajectories, an oversupply of great candidates for limited positions, and working endlessly for free ‘for the experience’ before you finally land a job that pays – breaking into the arts can feel challenging and terrifying. If you’re a graduate, job hunter, looking for a career change or the next challenge in your arts career, motivation can dwindle after receiving yet another rejection. 

Often we’re told experience is key – if you volunteer and intern for organisations you will be rewarded with entry level positions. But what about advice for those who have done the rounds of volunteering and internships?

Read: 50 ways to land a job in the arts

7. 10 reasons you haven’t made it as an artist

Sometimes it can be just as helpful to discover what you are not in order to determine what you are. Here’s advice on how to get your plans to be an artist back on track.

Here at ArtsHub we are always giving you good advice on what to do right from mastering Instagram to overcoming inertia. But sometimes you need to know what you are doing wrong.

Here are out takeouts from a recent panel on how to make it as an artist to help you recognise when you haven’t.

Read: 10 reasons you haven’t made it as an artist

6. 30 things I learned working in a gallery

Having worked in a regional gallery, a commercial gallery, for a Biennale and an ARI, these are the lessons – and the secrets – I can share.

I had another life before becoming an arts journalist. That is not unusual. Most people who work in the arts can say the same, having moonlighted in other professions, hopscotched across the sector, and moved between the minors to the majors.

This is why arts professionals are so valuable – they have a bag brimming with incredibly niche collected knowledge. Such as how to clean a milkstone by Wolfgang Liab, source ants for a Yukinori Yanagi installation, or drain a formaldehyde tank by Damien Hirst. I also learnt to understand the different tone needed for writing a community grant for an ARI to talking to collectors at an art fair.

Skills that I now use daily as an arts journalist… Well, I am writing about it, yes? Having worked in a regional gallery, a commercial gallery, for a biennale and a self-managed ARI, these are some of the lessons – and the secrets – I can share.

Read: 30 things I learnt working in a gallery

5. How artists really make money

Often how artists really support their creative practice is hidden. We ask emerging and established artists to get candid.

As artists, writers, arts workers and creatives, it can feel like we are on a pendulum swing between feeling dismal about making a living, and being struck by dazzling glimmers of hope about our artistic careers.

The median creative income for Australian artists is $7,000 – and $22,500 for those working on their practice full time. Clearly that isn’t enough to live on, yet a culture of secrecy keeps the struggle out of view and how artists actuallysupport themselves often remains a mystery.

Day jobs are regarded as an embarrassing necessity, actual earnings are rarely revealed and the resulting pressures – including their physical and mental health implications – are camouflaged.

Read: How artists really make money

4. 50 ways to get money for art

The more income streams you have, the more opportunities you have to make art. The most successful artists can check many, if not all, all of these funding sources.

1. Reapply to Australia Council

Despite two years of cuts and the controversial movement of funds to the Ministry via Catalyst, the Australia Council still distributes about 90% of the Federal Government’s art grants. Only about a quarter of applicants receive funding in any given round but Australia Council frequently stresses ‘unfunded excellence’, which means applicants who don’t receive funding are often considered good enough: there just isn’t enough funding to go around.

The best chance for Australia Council funding – apart from a good application, of course – is to keep trying.

Read: 50 ways to get money for art

3. Seven life lessons for artists

After 35 years in the studio, Aida Tomescu says painting is still ‘like going down a mine without knowing the way out’. She provides some torchlight for other artists.

Aida Tomescu’s paintings pulsating in iridescent shades of orange and yellow evoke Leonard Cohen’s line: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

On the eve of her 60th birthday, Romanian born Sydney-based Aida Tomescu has painted some of the largest canvases of her career, several of which have been more than two years in the making. Her exhibition, Eyes in the Heat also signals a new gallery relationship.

Read: Seven life lessons for artists

2. Your most important performance review

If you are required to do an annual performance review for your boss, chances are it won’t be the whole story.

For most people an annual report or performance review is just an obligation and the attitude is ‘Let’s get it done quickly and painlessly’. That can be a missed opportunity because a performance review is also as an opportunity to highlight the achievements of the year and position yourself for the future.

More importantly, a performance review is an opportunity to work out if you are happy with yourself – but only if you do the review for yourself rather than just for your manager.

Taking stock is important for ourselves as well as our companies.  It can enable you to work out if the job is giving you what you want and if you are performing to your own satisfaction – and it can also give you evidence to counteract your critics.

Every year I do a personal annual report alongside one for the company. The measures in a personal performance review can differ from those companies set. Things to consider are: 

Read: Your most important performance review

1. Why we are burning out in the arts

Working long hours for low pay, fighting for budgets and the emotional exhaustion tied to creative output are a recipe for burnout. Learn how to avoid it.

Even by arts industry standards, poet, playwright, fantasy novelist, columnist, librettist and performance critic Alison Croggon has a lot to juggle. 

She admits she has ‘flirted with burnout’ for years.

‘Burnout is an occupational hazard in the arts,’ said Croggon. ‘There’s no doubt that artists face particular issues, which are largely to do with the fact that so many work outside institutions, often alone, and have no structures to assist them or any kind of financial stability.’

Burnout is a challenge for anyone who works hard in a competitive and unrelenting profession. But there are particular issues for those in the arts industries.

‘I’d say a major pressure in the arts comes from living a life of constant financial insecurity. Artists work very hard, usually in multiple ways on several different projects, but this labour seldom gives you a regular income, so you’re coping with stresses that don’t have to do with your work, but are a result of it. 

As Croggon progresses in her career, such stress has become harder to handle. ‘A life in the arts is rewarding in so many ways, but you have to be very lucky just to make a living wage. When I see stuff about superannuation, I just laugh. What superannuation?’

Read:  Why we are burning out in the arts

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