Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.
In the Arts, it is important to look at how we are going to get a job in the future and maintain a standard of living. As a musician, I cannot just walk into an orchestra rehearsal, sit down and begin playing; that does not happen. Nor does a painter get a large commission, or an actor grab the lead role right out of the gate. It takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work prior to that moment. And to top it all off, you have to remember: TO HAVE FUN!!!
Dress the Part
Did you go to Prom in jeans and a t-shirt? I don’t think many of you are from my hometown, so I’m guessing not. If you are looking for a job, doing auditions, going through interviews for grant applications, or anything involving someone maybe giving you money, make sure you dress appropriately. As a good friend of mine says, “Look sharp, be sharp.” How you look directly affects how you feel. So dress well and you will play/act/perform/talk/handle yourself that much better. This is the reason why I only wear non-collared shirts on laundry day, and bowties have become my best friends.
For everyone: Dark colours are standard for a reason; they look good. Make sure to impart some personality onto it though; a plain suit or dress should be the canvas, you are the painting.
Men: Own a suit. It does not matter what colour, in all honesty, as long as it is not tacky. Also, be able to appropriately match your ensemble! A nice shirt and tie combo can make you stand out. If you can, wear a nice watch. And above all, don’t be this guy:
Ladies: I’d recommend a knee-length skirt or dress pants, a nice blouse, and some subtle jewelry. Do not be afraid of some eccentricity and non-standard pieces; for example, a nice hair bow could do wonders for your outfit.
Develop Complimentary Skills
You know what doesn’t get jobs? Being lazy. I like to think I’m lazy and then I remember I run two student groups, I’m highly active in another, I am a member of six musical ensembles, I work three jobs, volunteer around Edmonton on a fairly regular basis, and still have a social life and pass my courses. Now, I’ll just get off my high horse…
You may think that seems like a lot, but as an artist, this is important. You cannot just throw away your time in university by simply going to class and studying/private practice. That’s a) NOT THAT FUN! and b) not going to get you a job. Get yourself out of the practice room and do things!
If you’re an actor: Find yourself an audience! Make friends by joining student groups! Market, market, market! How will you get comfortable in front of an audience if you don’t have an audience? Learn all aspects of a production. Put on your own.
If you’re a painter: Make your work visible to the 30,000 students and teachers that are on North Campus (that’s not counting the non-academic staff!)! That’s just under twice my hometown’s population! And they’re always here! Impromptu art installation, anyone? Find out how to best get your message across and what gets people talking.
If you’re a musician: Run recitals. Learn how to market them and get people out. Make your face known! Involve yourself in student groups to gain experience so you’ll be self-sufficient in the future. Make small ensembles/bands. Rehearse as a group. Busk. Compose. Orchestrate. Write grants for summer programs. These are all important!
Bring the art to the people by doing more! You are here to create and to communicate. So get yourself outside of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. There is no better time than right now! You can make mistakes. You can get crazy inventive. Do things that won’t necessarily make money, but are fun and from which you will gain a ton of experience. That is part of what university is for.
One half of making it in the art world is being able to actually make art. The other half is knowing how to interact with people.
…are just as important as these moments:
Being personable, enjoying yourself, sharing in the amazing life that is happening right now… these are things that we all need to do. Locking yourself away in a practice room forever is not the answer. There needs to be balance.
It’s through these experiences that you get to meet the most amazing people in the world. Some highlights from my list include: having my swing dance raved about by the Norwegian French Horn pedagogue Frøydis Ree Wekre; enjoying a few drinks with French trumpet master Eric Aubier; listening to Ed Rensi, former President and CEO of McDonald’s, rant about “you youth today!”; and reminiscing with successful business men and politicians about their wild university days in contrast with my own. Are these people going to be important to my career? Some of them probably will. The experience of getting to talk to these people and knowing them personally, will that impact me significantly? Certainly.
University is about having fun, enjoying yourself, and learning a whole lot from not only your classes, but your experiences. When it comes to the Arts, and I know it is cliché, but you really do get out what you put in. You have four… five… (ahem) six years of development that you should take full advantage of: JUST DO IT! Your career doesn’t start once you graduate; your career starts right now!