One of the most surprising discoveries you will make when you first venture down the path of working in a creative field like dance, illustration, or design, is that at some point you are likely to be a self-employed artist. Putting aside the glamor of standing on the mountaintop and shouting to the word “I am an artist!” you’ll see that the reality is that you are also your own business. That’s what I discovered when I first became a working photographer. I was face-to-face with the invoices, taxes, paperwork, and responsibilities of running a functioning commercial operation. And man, I was not prepared for any of it.
Luckily I was smart enough to educate myself. I took sales training classes and worked with business coaches. I surrounded myself with people who were smarter than me when it came to accounting, insurance, and legal forms. Having these details taken care of by competent people, and removing those headaches from my daily routine, helps me better focus on my photography. My wife Catherine and I now run a very successful commercial photography and graphic design business called Ross Creative Works.
Over these past 20 years, I have managed to absorb a few nuggets of knowledge. In honor of the countless people who helped me along the way, I now try to assist others who are now starting on the same trip. That’s why I believe so much in organizations like Self Employment In The Arts. It’s designed to help people succeed in any of the creative fields. People going into theatre are faced with some of the same challenges as those who pursue illustration.
The 17th annual SEA Conference is coming up Feb 24th & 25th at the Hilton in Lisle, Illinois. Catherine and I will be there, along with 50 other working professionals, helping artist, students, and entrepreneurs understand the benefits of self-employment. Panels and workshops will cover areas like networking, dealing with clients, pricing, and dozens of other topics. Plus there will be opportunities for portfolio reviews and one-on-one mentoring.
One of the things I really hate to see is talented people working in unsatisfying jobs simply because they don’t have the skills and support to turn their passions into a career. Get educated, get a mentor or two, and don’t miss any opportunities to network at events like Self Employment in the Arts.
About the Author: Jeffrey Ross is an award-winning commercial photographer traveling the world extensively for various projects and assignments. His images can be found in magazines, advertisements, books, and personal collections. Jeffrey regularly blogs about his travels and adventures, and loves to share his stories with others. He often speaks to college students and others just starting to work in the creative arts fields, helping them make their passion a reality.
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