Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Get an Art & Design Job

Interested in landing a freelance, part-time or full-time job as an artist and/or graphic designer? Professor Dennis Staffne of Northern Michigan University's Department of Art and Design has assembled a nifty web page filled with art career and job placement links.

There you'll find sections on new media and graphics; photo, film and video; teaching, institutional and museum jobs; art/design employment agencies; general job sites with art/design listings; and art employment resources outside the U.S.

Do It Yourself Books, Music, Media & More

The barriers to self-expression have quickly eroded away. Producing your own creative product -- be it a book, music CD, photograph, artwork, whatever -- and making it available to the masses used to be a daunting task.

Not any more. There are a growing number of places you can turn to breath life into your creative ideas. Here are two of them:

Ourmedia provides "free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches."

Lulu is the place to go if you're "looking to buy cool stuff from independent creators or to publish and sell your work." The site specializes in digital music downloads, print-on-demand books, e-books, audio books, calendars and images.

Of course, you still have to promote your creative offerings and find an audience (and help your audience find you) before you rack up sizeable sales and start your first fan club. But when it comes to producing your creation and making it accessible to the world, there are no longer any excuses to not get started.

Think big. Dream big. Get busy!

The Creativity Resources Mother Lode

Douglas Eby has been writing about creativity and interviewing artists, writers, actors and more for many years. Our paths first crossed back in my early Internet days in the mid to late '90s. His material is based on his personal interests and research into creativity, human development and positive psychology.

I recently discovered that Eby is still at it with several awesome web sites with many diverse sections. His main site, Talent Development Resources, is designed to explore the psychological and social issues that affect creatively gifted and talented people -- and to inform and inspire.

Eby explores a variety of topics related to multiple talents and giftedness. There are articles and interviews with artists, psychologists and others, plus talent areas such as writing, acting, filmmaking and visual arts, including pages on abuse and creative expression, healing and art, etc.

Sections on women and talent and teens/young adults explore similar topics from a slightly different angle.

One of the main themes of Eby's sites is how mental health issues, spirituality and other topics such as self-esteem and self limitation impact our ability to realize creative talents and achieve a higher level of self-actualization and personal meaning.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time with Douglas Eby and his vast creativity research.

On Self-Help, Synergy & Struggle

Jory Des Jardins can teach us all a thing or two about personal development and living a life of ease. Not that she claims to have her act (not to mention her life in general) totally together. On her Pause blog she writes fascinating, and often lengthy, essays about her struggles with and opinions on self-employment, happiness, business, current affairs and gender issues.

She's an excellent, playful writer with a distinctive voice. For a great example of what I'm talking about, check out her Rule of Synergy blog post. In it she makes some profound points about self-help, struggle and how we all choose to live our lives. Read it and you just might reevaluate your place in the world -- while enjoying a lively read at the same time.

How to Stay Passionate About Your Passion

You dream about it for years. You work your butt off to reach it. And finally, there you are ... at a point in your life where you're doing what you always knew you were meant to do -- engaging in your creative passion.

You're elated. The Rocky theme song blares in your head as you pump your fist in the air and rejoice. Life is good.

Then a few months or years later you find yourself grumbling and complaining about your workload or the state of your industry or how you've just been a little down in the dumps lately.

What happened? Most likely, you just temporarily lost touch with the passion you once had for your talent or artistic vocation.

Kathy Sierra has some great tips for recapturing the glory in her blog post "Creating a Passionate You." For instance ...

Ask yourself, "What did I used to really love about this?" Remind yourself why you wanted to do this! It doesn't mean you don't change your mind, or outgrow it, or evolve, or whatever ... but you won't know whether it's time to move on or whether you just lost your perspective unless you truly answer that question. Ask yourself, "Assuming I do NOT win the lottery, what else would I rather be doing for work right now?"

Sierra has been interested in the brain and artificial intelligence since her days as a game developer. She is also the co-creator of the bestselling Head First computer book series.

So ... how do you maintain your passion for your art or craft? Click the Comments link below and share your thoughts.

It's Never Too Late to Become What You Are

On Joyce Wycoff's Good Morning Thinkers blog, she recently expounded upon George Eliot's quote, "It is never too late to become what you might have been."

Here's an interesting excerpt, which touches on similar ground discussed in my Take Back Your Crayons post:

"Perhaps the sweetest thing about exploring alternative paths at mid-life is the freedom from world-determined expectations of success. Mid-life artists don't have to cater to the whims of critics or the public, mid-life novelists can joyfully experience an imaginary world without worrying about publication, and mid-life compassion can be shared with one child without feeling responsible for changing the world. We can learn things for the sheer joy of learning, make stuff for the joy of creation and become whatever we want to be without worrying about getting a grade, passing muster or winning an award."

This has got me thinking a lot lately about creating vs. marketing and how the two are indeed different functions that in many ways should remain separate -- but in other ways should happily work together for the benefit of all. I plan to post more thoughts on this next week.

In the meantime, check out Joyce Wycoff's site. In addition to writing and speaking about innovation and creativity, she is an author, poet, photographer and passionate believer in the power of people to change the world.

And we can certainly use more people like her in the world.

It's Time to Take Back Your Crayons

While traveling the blogsphere (that ultra-hip term for the ever-expanding world of web logs), I've come across the name Hugh McCleod a number of times. Finally, I decided to find out what all the buzz was about. McCleod is a UK-based marketing and advertising consultant known for the artwork he creates on the backs of business cards, among other things.

Sounds vaguely amusing until you read his many online writings collectively called "How to Be Creative." It's fascinating stuff. McCleod has a few ideas that depart from my general philosophies -- but I'm glad he's out there making me (and many other people) think about their creative pursuits and place in the world.

One of his postings that really grabbed me is titled "I'd Like My Crayons Back, Please." Here's an excerpt:

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, "I'd like my crayons back, please."

So you've got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, whatever. You don't know where the itch came from; it's almost like it just arrived on your doorstep, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person ...

Until now.

You don't know if you're any good or not, but you'd think you could be. And the idea terrifies you. The problem is, even if you are good, you know nothing about this kind of business ...

Besides, if you write a book, what if you can't find a publisher? If you write a screenplay, what if you can't find a producer? And what if the producer turns out to be a crook? You've always worked hard your whole life. You'll be damned if you'll put all that effort into something if there ain't no pot of gold at the end of this dumb-ass rainbow ...

Heh. That's not your wee voice asking for the crayons back. That's your outer voice, your adult voice, your boring and tedious voice trying to find a way to get the wee crayon voice to shut the hell up.

Your wee voice doesn't want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something. There's a big difference. Your wee voice doesn't give a damn about publishers or Hollywood producers.

Go ahead and make something. Make something really special. Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.

If you try to make something just to fit your uninformed view of some hypothetical market, you will fail. If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.

Read the entire "I’d Like My Crayons Back, Please" piece here. And when you have some spare time, poke around McCleod's entire "How to Be Creative" collection, which is also available at the Change This web site.

What's Your Definition of Passion?

It's a word you hear batted around a lot, especially when talking about creative pursuits and finding your right livelihood. I'm talking about PASSION -- that sometimes elusive beast we all strive to grab ahold of and ride like our lives depended on it.

But what is passion? On his Occupational Adventure blog, Curt Rosengren has a great definition:

"Passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do."

He also writes, "The energy differential is huge between doing a job that is really an extension of who you are, and a job where you have to wear a mask day in and day out."

Amen to that, brother! I've worked my share of day jobs to pay the bills and make ends meet when I had to. But, thankfully, I never got too comfortable with any of them, regardless of how prestigious the title was or how attractive the paycheck might have been.

Like many people in the workforce, I was never satisfied toiling to fulfill someone else's cause or mission. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you want stability within a structured environment (and good luck finding that), all the power to you if you're content clocking in and out for a steady income.

But I've always been stubbornly intrigued by the idea of making a living doing something that was a natural reflection of who I am. And that is indeed an excellent source of passion.

For many people, that personal satisfaction can be found with the right job at the right company. For me, it has only been fully found working for myself as a writer, author and publisher (while having the freedom to also enjoy music, acting and art on a part-time basis).

But even if you're not able to make a full-time living doing the thing you're most passionate about, at least engage in it on the side as often as you can. Doing so will help you stay healthy and wise -- oh yeah, and a lot more passionate!