Making it Work with Artsmonkey



On Tuesday 4th February we sat down at a table in The Courtyard in Bicester which was COVERED in glitter, ribbons, coloured card, pens, glue, stickers, each having been handed one of these books, wondering what we would be filling them with.



Juliet Brain explained that the session would take us through the practical elements of having a freelance career in the arts and, as the title suggests, how to make it work!

Task number 1? Create a double page that describes you as a creative. Now when confronted with a ton of resources it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when you’d normally describe yourself audibly, rather than visually, but we gave it our best shot!

We then moved on to a discussion about what we considered work to be. We began to think about what we wanted out of work, what it took in terms of time and effort, and the results of work, for example security, fulfillment and a means to an end. We also discusses the skills that we could gain and that we already had!

It can be hard to see what skills or tools you already have, let alone value them, so an exercise asking us to write down all our tools was invaluable. We gained ideas from each other as well as realising that actually we had each probably done more training than we thought initially. However, as Juliet so eloquently put, ‘skills are currency, but they don’t replace the integrity of your art’. No matter how often we sell our skills, it’s still the art which is at the heart of everything.



We then moved on to support networks. Just through using the internet we looked  up professional bodies, forums, websites that could potentially be places of support for us, places and people that we could link with and collaborate or run ideas by. It was really good to talk through this as it reinforced previous lessons, demonstrating just how important networking is!

If we want to draw on the experience and support of others then we must broaden our horizons! After all, if you don’t put yourself out there you won’t get the work. 

It’s all about visibility, making yourself known and being confident to approach others, not only in different professions, but within your own practice as well!

The two words that came out of the day?

Persistance: keep trying and finding new ways of doing things.

Value: Know the value of your work and what you have to offer.

Our next point of call was finance. This was really useful for many of the group of young leaders as most of us are not self-employed. It was really good to just go through the theory, working out the tax system and being given advice on what we need to keep track of, and what information we should and should not give out, protecting your personal information. It’s these every day practices that we needed enlightening about so it was great to have a session on this.

Finally we looked at ourselves. It can often be difficult to figure out what your unique selling point is, and I definitely found this particularly challenging. I’m at a point at the moment where I know where I want to end up, I’m aware of where I have come from, but at this particular point I don’t really know what I class myself as. If you asked me to do an elevator speech right this second then I would struggle. Yes I’m a musician, yes I have experience of producing… but I don’t think I have enough experience to say ‘Hi I’m Charlotte and I’m a producer’ yet. That’s all part of Stepping Up though, figuring out how we get to where we want to be!

Juliet got us to create a mind map about ourselves, our past, future, what we offer and our strengths and weaknesses. She really got me thinking about what it is I can offer to people and how I go about improving myself and furthering my career. This was a really great session, not just in terms of the practical elements of making a freelance career work, but in identifying ourselves and the tools we have that we can use to help others. Thank you Juliet!


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