Creative Careers: Selling Your Art

Artists Square’s CEO, Racquel Cruz, asked fellow artist Candy Buckley, to expand on several challenges when it comes to selling art. No doubt Candy’s firsthand knowledge and experience will not only sound familiar for many, it will also prove to beneficial for up and coming artists.

When selling your artwork as a career or means of income, what is your target audience for your art type? What has been your greatest challenge in finding your audience and selling your work?”

I like to think that my style of art is diverse enough that it would appeal to a wide range of people. The type of art that I do is varied and greatly depends on my mood. I have pieces that would most likely appeal to more of a “New Age” audience, but I also have art that could appeal to any type of audience. I don’t stick with one style of art, my work ranges from contemporary to abstract and everything in between.

Career Tip #1: Don’t’ be afraid or shy to get your work out there via the many social networking sites available.

I enjoy working on several different projects at one time. I tend to get bored quickly so I find that this method keeps my mind working and my creative juices. While I of course would like to sell my art, I don’t cater to a particular type of audience.

One of the greatest challenges when trying to reach any type of audience is finding the best way to get work noticed. This is such a competitive field and there are so many extremely talented people out there that it’s sometimes very hard to find ways to stand out, so to speak.

I found that one very useful tool is social networking sites, such as the Artist’s Square. While these sites do normally have a large number of members, it is still very simple to showcase your work and hopefully get the attention of other artists and therefore prospective buyers. Facebook happens to be another of my favorite sites for advertising my art. I’ve created a page that does just that and truly enjoy interacting with the pages members and getting their feedback.

Career Tip #2: No matter which career field you find your passion, never compromise your creation.

There are many other ways to generate an audience and become a successful artist. It’s up to each individual to find his or her perfect fit, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking advantage of multiple venues at once.

Submitted by: Artist’s Square Member MoonDancer. View her work at:
http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/MoonDancer-s-Visual-Art/owner/MoonDancer

Thank you Candy for your helpful insight.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

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Career Breakout: Changing Careers Begin With…

I’m thinking about changing careers but not sure about which career to go in. What is the first step?”

This question was sent in by Sandi Collins and seems to be relevant to many people.

Not satisfied with the career you’ve chosen, or is it simply time for something new? Perhaps a career change may be right for you. Contrary to what people might say, it’s never too late to change your path. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, on average, Americans change their careers 3 to 7 times throughout their life.

The first, and most important, step to beginning a career change is to analyze your current career. I know you want to get away from it as fast as possible. But don’t be so quick to jump ship. Grab a sheet of paper or open up a new document on your computer–go on… I’ll wait.

To organize your listing, create a “T-Chart” with two columns. In one column, write down the top ten things you do like about your current career (even though you’re looking for a change, there has to be something you enjoy about it). And in the other column, list what you don’t like about your career. These should be the reasons you’re looking for a change.

Once you’ve completed your list, take it a step further. Looking at your likes and dislikes, what are your skills? In other words, what skills do you possess that you’ve gained and utilized in your current career? Be as specific as possible. To note, hardworking is not a skill.

Career Tip: Changing careers requires diligence, honesty, and more diligence.

Why is all of this effort so important? Because the next step is to select a career you’re interested in. That involves a great deal of research and planning. With this list you’ve just created at your disposal, you’ll know what to look for and what to avoid in a new career. Without this knowledge, you’re bound to repeat past mistakes, ending up unsatisfied again.

Career Tip: Your goal when changing careers should always be to align your skill sets and interests with a path of your choosing.

As far as tools for research, many exist but not all are worth using. For your convenience, we’ve listed some of our top recommendations:

  • This Internet is always a great resource. One great website we always suggest to our clients is O*NET, an online database containing detailed, in-depth information for almost every career and profession in existence. Their website is http://www.onetonline.org/, and their services are completely free to use. O*NET’s listings contain job responsibilities, tasks, salary, equipment, work conditions, and more.
  • Some people prefer to use the Internet; others prefer a more personal method of research. For those, informational interviews are always a winning strategy. Find professionals in a career of interest and invite them to an interview. Not only will you find the same information you would have when using the Internet, you’re also likely to get full accounts of day-by-day routines, which is important in determining whether or not a career is worth pursuing.
  • The above tools not hands-on enough? Try job shadowing a professional instead. This will allow you to see for yourself what a career will entail. Spend a few hours shadowing several professionals in an area of interest, if possible. Granted, shadowing opportunities aren’t as abundant as many of us would like, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t try to obtain one. Many professionals are happy to grant the opportunity as it provides them a new networking contact.
  • Time for an insider secret… look for volunteer or freelance opportunities in the field of your interest. While you might think it’s impossible to find, you have to think outside of the box. Thinking about working with animals? Volunteer at a local animal shelter. Want to get into publishing? Write some articles for a local newspaper. These activities aren’t as far removed as you might believe. Not only will they give you a feel for an industry, whether it’s direct or indirect, it also gives you some helpful resume additions.  

Don’t let all of this get to your head, though. There are many steps in the process of changing a career. These are just some of the first steps you should immediately take. You still have to build experience, especially if you have little to speak of. You still have to find an opening, submit an eye-opening resume and cover letter, and conduct a successful interview. It’s a tall order, but you can do it.

For more tips on enacting a career change, and tips to help you land a position in that brand new career, visit Education Career Service at http://www.educs.com/ where you will find cutting edge single topic career workbooks and complete career lifecycle books or visit us at Amazon.com (search Danny at ECS). Also, send us a tweet at @Dannyatecs. We’d love to hear from you.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Education Career Services

Writing Tips: Banishing Writer’s Block

Stuck staring at a blank page? Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, shares techniques on how to transform the stare into a stellar document.

It’s 2:00 am. Crumpled paper covers your table; your pen is leaking onto the placemat, and cups of coffee, all at various stages of full surround you. Your eyes are bleary, your hair disheveled and despite your best efforts at super-caffeinated, latte-reinforced creativity, the blinking cursor on your lap-top has you hypnotized. You seem unable to make your fingers move it across the keyboard– or the cursor across the page—unable to compose the brilliant argument you’d hoped to as to why you should be given this job….

What do you do? How do you get past writer’s block? How do you get started on that cover letter, resume, or personal statement that may just change your life?

Tip #1NEVER stare at a blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor.

Humans are social creatures. We need interaction and conversation. Even in the solitary task of writing, we need to be in a conversation with ourselves and with the words on the page. So rather than shutting down that conversation with the blank stare of a blank page, get the conversation started! Begin in the middle, even at the end if you have to. Write anything, but write. You might even begin simply by writing that you don’t know what to write about– but the secret to getting past a block and getting words on the page is that you simply have to begin.

Once there is text, some text, any text, on the page, you’ll find that a whole different part of you can begin to interact, begin to have a conversation (in your head and on the page); essentially, you can begin to write. In fact, you’re already writing!

Tip #2DON’T censor yourself until it’s time to revise and edit.

Now that you’ve gotten words on the page, some words, any words. Now that you’ve begun the theoretical conversation with yourself, the page, and the future readers of your text, don’t shut down the flow of words with worry. Don’t worry about whether this is the best way to say that, whether you have any dangling modifiers or comma splices, whether you sound smart enough, or overqualified. Simply write. Write and write, addressing issue after issue that may be relevant to the task at hand.

It’s much easier to come back to a wordy rough draft later, to cull the best parts and delete the appalling. But don’t stop your initial flow of words to do it. Don’t censor yourself. Once you have everything down you might possible want to say, THEN you can become your own worst critic, but not before.

Tip #3Take advantage of relational thinking and logic.

You likely have much to offer a future employer. You’re more than likely qualified for the job you’re after and have a genuine interest in doing well in such a position. That’s why applying to it attracted you in the first place. To communicate most effectively with any reading audience, however, you want to provide illustrations and examples that support your claims. In this case, you’re claiming to be qualified! So, how do you prove it? What evidence can you offer?

If writer’s block has you struggling to come up with ideas, tap into the natural, relational order of an interesting conversation. Remember last week when you asked Joe what he had planned for the weekend and he mentioned going out with the kids for pizza and that led to a conversation on your favorite pizza toppings and on to an argument about who in town has the best pizza and then on to the time in high school when you ate 15 slices in one sitting, and that fact that now you gain 15 pounds just smelling good pizza, and boy, is staying fit while you grow older a challenge?

A conversation about the weekend somehow became a discussion of middle aged strategies for weight loss? It did! And it did so quite logically. You and Joe related one idea to the next, weaving your way through a fascinating conversation.  Use this same kind of idea relating to help you head in new directions on the page, working to pull out from your memory and into your writing all the great examples and illustrations you need to help you craft the perfect application documents and make the fullest case for why you should be hired.

It may sound simple, but honestly, the best way to get past writer’s block is to get writing! And use these three tips to help.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated as many of us, especially those writing career documents, blank-out, become frustrated, and give up before beginning. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Where the jobs are…

“I can never find any good job listings. Am I missing something or searching in the wrong place?”

This question was sent in by Kirsty Walden, who, like many, can’t seem to find any of the jobs they’re looking for. To answer her question directly… yes, you are searching in the wrong place.

According to the Career Thought Leaders Group, 80% of job listings are located in what is known as the “hidden job market.” This means your searches on sites such as Monster.com, or even local newspaper listings, are only advertising a minority of the jobs that need to be filled. In other words, you are, like many others, concentrating on 20% of the jobs out there. How can this be? You ask naïvely…

You see, the truth of the matter is, not all companies advertise jobs that need to be filled. Before shaking your hands in the air, there is logic to their madness. Companies that hire/promote from within, for example, will not spend the money to advertise. Would you? Additionally, given tight budgets and vast pool of qualified applicants, many companies don’t have the time or resources to create several listings for an opening. So why not tap a free online resource of global applicants and place an advertisement at a lower cost (if at all) via the World Wide Web?

Regardless of the reasoning, the key thing to remember is there are many perks for searching in the hidden job market. You want to be looking here, trust me. After all, would I steer you wrong?

Once you’ve found the hidden job market, you can expect less rejection, less waiting, and, best of all, less competition. According to Dice, on average you’ll be competing with fewer than 10 people for a position.

While this may sound too good to be true, I challenge you to think otherwise. Many people, like Kirsty, don’t know there is a hidden job market. The mainstream approach is to visit a common job search engine such as Monster and hope for the best. While this is not a bad approach and should be your first of many steps, strategies such as these don’t often lead to hiring.

A better approach, instead, is to find jobs in this hidden market by networking–it’s one of the most useful skills you should master as a career professional. It’s not hard to master either; it simply takes time and effort.

Here at Education Career Services, we teach the 1:50 rule. For every 1 person, there are at least 50 potential contacts to be used. These contacts can be from your personal, social, or professional life.

Career tip and activity: Make a list of all these people mentioned above, noting what industry and career path they are part of. Ask them if their companies are hiring in your line of work.

The results will be surprising!

One of the many perks of networking is familiarity. If one of your contacts does find a job opening for you, they can put in a good word… placing you immediately in the advantage. Likewise, hiring managers will be impressed by your ability to find the opening, rather than browsing online listings. Any advantage is a good advantage.

Don’t give up on the networking strategy. If none of your direct contacts have anything for you, expand your network. Find contacts of your contacts, then ask them for an informational interview or send them a networking letter introducing yourself.

Career tip: The job market is a system powered by who you know; therefore, the more people you know, the more power you have.

The important thing to remember is don’t be discouraged. Contacts may not always have useful information for you or job openings that need to be filled. That’s to be expected. However, you never know when a contact of yours will suddenly have an opening or a tip for you. Maintain that network and it will pay off eventually.

If you would like additional information or assistance in any career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com. Cutting edge single topic career workbooks and complete career lifecycle books are available at our website (www.edu-cs.com) or visit us at Amazon.com (search Danny at ECS).

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Education Career Services

Career Breakout: Ready or Not, Here YOU are

(Missed) Opportunities often come and go at the oddest of times and the most peculiar places. When it comes to networking, are you prepared?

While sitting in a reception area waiting my turn for a cut, the silence amongst the group of four was deafening. Thinking as a career coach and author, I wondered why no one was taking advantage of a perfect networking environment. After too-much silence, I took the first step and broke the ice by asking a young lady sitting next to me about the cause of a minor leg injury (her left ankle wrap was a giveaway).

Conversation lacked reciprocation and so I pushed it a bit further with questions regarding her many tattoos. I quickly learned she and her friend, sitting directly across, were recently in Virginia. I then asked what it is they do:

I am an unemployed call center supervisor, ”stated one while the other stated she was also unemployed. Here’s where the “Ready or Not, Here YOU are” comes full circle as the remainder of this discussion was directed toward the “other” unemployed individual (we’ll call Irma):

You’re unemployed. How long have you been unemployed?” I asked
Since January, but I really need to find a job.” Irma replied.
What is it that you are looking for?”
It doesn’t really matter, I just need a job.”
What were you doing?” I asked knowing this lady needed to understand the value of an introductory statement/elevator speech.
An administrative assistant.” Irma responded with nothing more to share.
Seeing an opening, I pounced with “why would someone want to hire you?”
I’m a hard worker and good at what I do.”

Not satisfied with rhetoric, I then asked her what I typically ask all applicants during the interview process: “I have two other applicants also claiming to be hard workers and good at what they do, why should I consider you and not the other two?”
I am a hard worker,” she repeated and added “I offer the total package.”
Not knowing what that meant, I asked her to give me an example of a situation requiring her action, what she did, and what was the result.

Thrown back a bit, more non-specific, non-quantifiable verbiage flowed from her mouth.
“These are nice qualities just about EVERYONE will say, but I need more… I need examples, confirmation, something believable giving you an advantage.”

After a short pause, I informed the two that I own a career management and publishing company and know how difficult it is to locate and secure jobs. Without pause, Irma asked “can I have a job.” I responded that “nothing was available but one never knows what will happen next month or perhaps someone else I know has a need for an administrative assistant possessing the total package.”

I then asked for her card just in case, Irma had no card.

Once my hair succumbed to butchery, I politely paid the receptionist and, as I was leaving the establishment, gave the unemployed a card with my email address and website information. Three days later, still no word, no email, no connection from Irma.

Taking advantages of golden opportunities means being prepared at all places and at all times. After all, no matter where you are, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THERE.

Reviewing Irma’s missed opportunity, what went wrong?
●   An initial reluctance to begin or take part in a conversation
●   Lacked an elevator speech or 30-second commercial
●   No true professional objective
●   The inability to quantify value in the workplace
●   Too much talk, not enough action
●   No introductory or business card
●   Asking for a job
●   Neglecting to follow-up

No doubt the above does not reflect all of the things that went wrong but it is enough for now.

Let’s place you in Irma’s shoes… Are you prepared? Before answering if you are Ready or not, take a few moments and respond to the following
●   What distinguishes you from the other two finalists (be specific and offer examples)?
●   Do you have a business or introductory cared with you at ALL times?
●   Do you know what you are looking for in a job, really?
●   Why should I hire you?

The next time you are standing in line, waiting for your appointment, or even riding an elevator, take a deep breath and put yourself out there.

After all, no matter where you are, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THERE.

ECS offers cutting-edge books and workbooks designed to give you a competitive edge. Throughout the pages, prepare yourself with hard hitting questions, truths, activities, samples, and proven strategies to improve your career station. For additional information, go to our storefront page on our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

For additional information or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Graphic Design, Passion Realized

Artists Square’s CEO, Racquel Cruz, knowing the art of Graphic Design is a very diverse and demanding market asked fellow graphic designer and member, Eliot Cruz for his professional view and the following:

“If someone were to ask you where they should start or how to expose their work, what would you suggest?”

If you’re creative and don’t know what career path you’d like to take, you’re not alone. By my own experience, I’ve learned so much. I would advise someone to learn about the different forms of art in the Graphic Design Industry, choose the one that interests them, and go for it.

1. Learn about the different forms of Graphic Design

Taking the path of a graphic designer comes in many different forms. It was not until my later years after college, that my career started to take off. In high school I got the “bug” by hand drawing large structural buildings, so I enrolled in a technical drawing class also known as “drafting.”

My pursuit of becoming an architect was short-lived, but my passion for creativity and my continued education has taken me to a different path and now I’m creating 3d graphics in the Simulation and Training Industry.

2. Choose the form of Graphic Design that interests you

Graphic design is art and comes in many different forms, such as: web design, print, interface design, architectural, simulation, animated movies, gaming, engineering, and much, much more.

Learn what’s out there, and figure out what’s going to interest you the most. Graphic design requires an understanding of presentation and principles; such as page layout, perspective, lines, typography, and of course creativity. You have to make it a point to find what interests you because many design careers can be very technical and detail-oriented. I got lucky in my line of work. Not only do I work on simulation training products, but I get to create all of my company’s marketing graphic demands; such as interface design, logos, posters, brochures, trade show displays and motion-graphics.

3. Stick with the Career Path you Have Chosen

As I have mentioned earlier, life has taken me to a different path from my earliest dreams of what I wanted to do in life, but I feel fortunate to have been working in the Simulation and Training industry. I have flourished in my artistic abilities throughout my career and continue to learn to this day. I have worked in it for quite some time now and love it. (Heck – One day I’m 3d modeling a helicopter and animating missiles being fired. Then the next day creating graphics for the company newsletter) I am fortunate that my path has worked out for me.

If you have a clearer picture (focus) of what you want… you have an advantage. Stick with it. You could be as fortunate in finding your dream job.

Career tip: Passion and investing in yourself will help you grow to be one of the best designers in your industry. Be that person that comes in early and leaves late.

As a manager, I mostly hire people that have a great balance of knowledge, efficiency and quality when producing graphics. For this reason, I personally test most people by giving them an hour to recreate a 3d scene from a photo (which coincidentally is about 50% of our daily tasks).

I recently tested two people. One of them has been in the industry for years, he did well. I gave the same test to a young man who was deaf and right out of school. He did just as well, but didn’t have the same experience as the first guy. I’ll be honest, it did concern me that I’ll have to invest time in training him and that communication could be an issue in this demanding field, but what grabbed my attention the most about this young man, was his passion and excitement about art.

His passion was infectious. His attitude and willingness to learn and grow showed me that he is on his way to finding his path. And to boot, he is one of the best artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. What he does with a pencil is amazing. Well, I ended up hiring him and he has been doing great ever since.

Career tip: A degree and experience is great, but your passion will push your career further and will give you an edge on the competition.

Unsure as to your first step? I encourage you to go to Autodesk and download a 30 day trial of 3dsmax. Artist’s Square also provides a feature very similar to Photoshop to edit your artwork.

Good luck!

Submitted by: Artist’s Square Member Eliot Cruz. View samples of his work at:
http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/eclmdeclan-s-Visual-Art/owner/eclmdeclan

Thank you Racquel for your question and special thanks goes out to Jimmy. For those wishing to reach out directly to Jimmy and/or view his work, he is an active Artists-Square Eliot. For those not part of Artist’s Square, join and let me know your thoughts.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS