Essential Advice for Pursuing a Creative Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 June 2014

Person Starting a New Career

You're a creative person, and you've always wanted to pursue your passion as a career, which is exactly why you came to art school. When you have that special combination of talent, passion, and a drive to succeed, an art school education followed by a creative career is an obvious choice.

You bring a lot to the table as a creative individual, including innovation and a unique way of looking at challenges and tasks you encounter in a day-to-day workplace. With the possibility of automating more menial tasks in many industries, employers look for employees who have strong critical thinking skills, interesting perspectives, and thought processes that can't be replicated by a computer—employees like you. However, to set yourself up in a creative career that is fulfilling and financially stable can take hard work and dedication, so here are some techniques to get you started.

1. Market yourself

"Show your work" is a common adage in the arts, and it applies just as well to creative careers. Learn how to sell yourself. Your business skills are arguably as important as your creative talent, and if you can't market yourself, it doesn't matter how good you are at what you do. Learn how to reach clients through social media profiles, maintaining a blog, and creating an online portfolio so you can easily show it to companies looking to hire. These skills serve you well whether you're after a job at a corporation or agency, or you want to end up creating a thriving freelance business.

2. Bolster your network

The next essential is networking within your industry. Many jobs are all about who you know, and in the creative field, that means who you sees your profile and portfolio. Stay in touch with the people you went to art school with and get to know other alumni. Talk to people about your work, attend trade shows, conferences, and directly visit businesses that hire for the type of work you're looking for. You want to get to know people, companies, and the movers and shakers in your field.

3. Plan your progress over time

It’s always good to dream big, but you’ve got to plan a path to reach your end goal and accept that working your way up will likely take time and hard work. Remember, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities only come around, well, once in a lifetime!

You may not end up in your ideal job immediately after graduating from art school, but as long as you're actively taking steps towards career progression you can build up to the position and salary you desire. Two ways to move forward in your career after art school include taking freelance jobs to expand your network and your professional portfolio, and applying for jobs across a variety of industries that may be interested in your particular creative flavor.


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3 Proven Sales Techniques in Fashion Marketing

written by Georgia Schumacher 30 May 2014

Fashion display

You (or your company) may have found the hottest fashion line in existence, but now you need to get it in the hands of consumers. Start by developing a sales and marketing plan with fashion marketing strategies and tactics that ensure that you get the attention of shoppers and stores worldwide.

1. Think about the whole picture

Keep the store flow in mind. Every retail store owner has a specific store flow that they use to direct customers around their location. The store layout utilizes racks, end caps, window displays, and other arrangements to show off the merchandise in a way that's accessible and desirable. Visualize what the clothing you're marketing will look like in each prime store flow location, so you can describe to the store owner exactly how well your fashion fits into their store vision. You want the store owner to realize that you know about their side of things as well and can help them make more sales.

2. Get social

Create a fashion marketing platform using social media and social networking. When you show that you already have popularity, you create a demand for your fashion designs. Whether your pieces are in front of millions on high end fashion blogs or you have a thousand dedicated fans following your or Instagram account or Tumblr, showing that people want your clothes helps business owners make their purchasing decisions. Sites such as Pinterest are particularly useful for fashion marketing, especially if you catch the ear of some of the most active pinners on the site. The visual-based medium of this site is also helpful for showing off your clothing properly, and most sites allow users to easily share content from Pinterest so it's much easier to get a viral reach throughout the Internet.

3. Put people in your clothes

Set brand ambassadors forth in the world. A brand ambassador wears your clothing and talks up your product to their peer group. You want brand ambassadors who will give your products a good reputation, so make sure that you screen potential ambassadors so you aren't on the receiving end of an embarrassing viral video campaign that shows them behaving badly. Not all press is good press, contrary to popular opinion.

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Working with Clients: Balancing Opinions & Expertise

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 May 2014

CommunicatingAn inevitable occurrence in the life of every art school graduate is a conflict between your vision and the opinion of the client you intend to serve. You can imagine some of the issues when disagreement arises — for example, clients who are steadfast in their ideas, emboldened by the fact they are paying for the service and therefore, assume a sort of authority, challenging you, the artist, who is trained, experienced, and demonstrates a true talent for your craft. Added to this dynamic is your desire to prevent a rift so contentious that you damage the relationship and threaten to destroy your chances at future business from the client.

Even if you learned an array of impressive new creative skills at art school, communicating your clients is a skill you can’t afford to ignore. So, what are the best ways you can balance the opinions of your client and your experienced ideas and vision?

Keep an Eye on the Big Picture

First and foremost, whenever a conflict arises with a client, be sure to keep it all in the proper perspective. Oftentimes, an artist will take the discontent personally and allow a range of negative thoughts to be injected into the project. Allowing the disagreement in artistic opinion to affect you personally is not a healthy and productive way to operate and will do nothing to solve the issue. Avoiding the feeling of a personal affront is easier said than done but is, nevertheless, a point that cannot be overstated. What is most important is your ability to satisfy the client’s requests while making every effort to provide your experienced and talented artistic eye.

Keep an Open Mind

This advice seems to go without saying, and should be a standard rule of working with clients and colleagues. However, in the case of dueling opinions regarding a client’s project, you should make a special effort to remain as personally detached from your ideas as possible — enough to give the client’s suggestions a fair and dispassionate review.

Remembering to maintain objectivity not only affords you the ability to absorb your client’s opinions in a fairer and more approachable demeanor, doing so will allow you to better understand what is going to be required of you once the back and forth has ceased. You do not want to be so intransigent in your position that you are unable to hear the countering opinion, only to be left without definite direction once the dust settles, as you go about altering the project.

Give the Client Some Credit

While many of your clients lack the artistic education and experience you bring to the table, the client has at least one advantage — perspective. Your client is likely skilled at identifying the target audience in ways that you may be unable to perceive. The client’s perspective is honed over time and should be revered for nothing if not the experience that informs the opinion.

A client who has a different set of goals and offers opinions as to how to achieve those goals, no matter how different from your opinion, is not always doing so from an undeservedly powerful position. Their experience should be duly considered, and you would be wise to listen to their perspective and needs.

If you still disagree with their opinions, then calmly and professionally communicate your reasons, backing your opinions with evidence and data from user and case studies (some of which you may have saved from your art school classes) as well as blogs and expert opinions where possible. Explain how your choices could benefit their business and help them achieve their goals, as well as how doing something else may detract from these same goals. Ideally, you can combine their audience knowledge with your creative expertise to build something truly effective and inspiring.


How to Plate and Present Food like a Seasoned Professional

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 April 2014

Plating FoodPlating food means to arrange food on the plate in a manner that makes it as appealing as possible. It’s one of the many tools a seasoned chef has in his or her toolkit, but it’s also one that too many novice chefs overlook. If you work in hotel and restaurant management, the art of plating is also something you need to be comfortable with so that you can make sure your employees are making the right choices.

While cooking a meal is paramount, never dismiss the importance of plating. In truth, plating can elevate a less than perfect meal, or, in the case of bad plating, make a delicious meal seem a little less appealing. This is because we tend to eat with our eyes first. Here are a few tips on how to elevate the food in your restaurant with proper plating techniques.

Choose the Right Plate

Large white plates are the best choice here. Try to stay away from plates with colorful designs that distract from the food. The last thing you want after all that hard work in the kitchen is the food to blend in with the plate! Most chefs find that food pops when placed on white plates, and many like the clean lines that rectangular or square plates offer. You should also purchase and select big enough plates -- or keep your portions small enough -- so that there’s white or negative space on your plate. Center the food on the plate so the white forms a border around the food.

Picture a Clock

When you’re ready to plate your food, think of your plate as a clock. Start by placing your starch -- rice, pasta, potatoes -- at the 11 o’clock position from the diner’s point of view. Then, place the vegetables at 2 o’clock, and the star of the show -- the protein -- at 6 o’clock. As a bonus, this system will help with portion control if you remember that half the plate should consist of vegetables, with the protein and starch equally sharing the other half of the plate.

Be Odd

The Rule of Odds states that objects are more pleasing when presented in odd numbers. It’s used in many art disciplines, including the culinary arts. The theory behind this states that groups of odd number items will always have one item that appears to be framed by those around it, giving the composition a harmonious and natural look. Remember this rule when slicing protein to place atop a bed of lettuce or plating large vegetables such as asparagus spears or roasted fingerling potatoes.

Other Tips

• Garnish the right way. A little garnish goes a long way! Any garnish on the plate should be edible and should never overwhelm the food.

• Start in the center of your plate and build outward, leaving a border around the plate. This will prevent a server from sticking his thumb in the food.

• Place the most attractive food at the front of the plate.

• Add height at the rear of the plate by mounding your starch and leaning the protein and other vegetables against it.

Plating and presenting food is a skill that every chef can learn and everyone in hotel and restaurant management should know. All you need is a little practice and some tricks of the trade to ensure that you or your employees are plating food like seasoned pros! Learn more about what else you need to know to build your career in hotel and restaurant management today.

How to Inspire Creativity in Your Child

written by Georgia Schumacher 22 April 2014

Creativity at a Young AgeWhile all children are naturally creative, it’s important to nurture these tendencies so they’ll strengthen and contunie as the child grows. Not only will creative experiences help children deal with the myriad of feelings they’re just beginning to express--creative parenting techniques can also help foster your children’s mental growth, encouraging them to try out new ideas, ways of thinking, and even problem solving.

Artists Raising Artists

If you have a job where your creativity is expressed daily, nurturing this aspect of your child’s personality can start with sharing your artistic space with your child or including them in your creative process, whether that involves painting, fashion design, film making or other similar actions.

If your daily activities are a bit complex or hard to share with your children, never fear! Here are some tips on how to encourage your child’s creativity:

Ask questions: When out on a walk in the park or at the grocery store, children will naturally ask questions, but you can inspire their imagination by keeping the conversation going throughout the day. The best questions are open-ended ones like “What if?”

Be ready for creativity anywhere: Be prepared by toting crayons and paper with you so you can take advantage of down time at a restaurant or while waiting at the doctor’s office. Weave creativity into common everyday experiences.

Let them take the lead sometimes: See what they’ll whip up in the kitchen for dinner (with adult supervision, of course!).

Art starts conversations: Ask questions about the art they create, but also about the art they see in museums, the movies they watch, and the outfits they choose to wear. Ask them what they think is going on in a painting, how a show might have ended differently, or what they were thinking as they drew a picture.

Set the Stage

Make sure your child has a space at home to create all types of art. This space should be filled with plenty of raw materials so they can experiment with creative endeavors that go beyond just drawing or painting. Give them a chance to dabble with music, photography, clay, wood, and anything else you can think of. This way, they can explore what medium allows them to be the most creative. The goal is for them to express themselves, and this can manifest itself in any number of ways. Maybe you can paint one of the walls with chalkboard paint so she can create and recreate all in one afternoon. Or, put up squares of cork on a large section of a wall so he will have gallery space to hang his newest creations.

The Value of Creativity

As Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work day approaches, many of us start thinking about the future careers our children may pursue. Remember, creativity is important across all careers and all aspects of life. Arranging opportunities now for your child to experience creative activities will help celebrate their uniqueness, offer wonderful opportunities for you to connect with your child, and prepare them for a future of creative thinking and problem solving.