Hi! My name is Sarah and I took part in Creative Futures, a Creative Youth Network project which enables young artists to break into the creative industries, especially those who are experiencing barriers to accessing careers in the arts sector.

I’m a Bristol-based visual artist currently exploring all things digital – from Twitter activated roses to overflowing inboxes! You can see examples of my work here.

A common response you might hear whilst pursuing a creative career is: ‘But there aren’t any jobs in the creative industry!’

Well, I’m here to tell you… they’re right! You won’t find your dream career packaged in a neat little advert on sites like indeed.com. The really exciting thing about building a career in the creative industry is that YOU get to decide what that looks like.

But where do I start?

Right here! I’ve put together 7 of my top tips for creating your own opportunities in the creative industry…

Get connected – be everywhere!

‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’. Building a strong network can lead to lots of exciting opportunities. Although meeting new people can be scary, there are lots of supportive groups in Bristol full of young creatives just like you. Even if you don’t feel confident enough yet to strike up a conversation, go along and listen to what others have to say – eventually, you will. A few I would recommend include Crit Chat, Rife, Creators Club

If you are part of a programme with an organisation, ask if they've got a follow up group that you can join. Creative Youth Network have regular lunches for alumni, where we get together to share our latest projects. What normally happens is people find others that are interested in the same topics, and we start to collaborate.  

Prioritise your practice

Sometimes, life seems to get in the way. You might have bills to pay, friends to meet, chores to attend - but if you’re serious about pursuing your passion as a job, treat it like one. Allocate set times to focus on your work – and stick to it. You can find helpful time management planners on websites like https://weekplan.net/

Being part of a programme like Creative Futures where you have deadlines and other people are counting on you helps you get into the habit of allocating time for your artistic practice. 


Leave your comfort zone

The more you challenge yourself to try things that might scare you, the more opportunities you’ll be brave enough to go for. I was absolutely terrified of public speaking before I joined Toastmasters, but the confidence it gave me meant I had the courage to take part in an Art residency in Austria where I presented my work to more than 100 people! Whether its networking, learning a new skill or travelling – get out of that comfort bubble!


Be Proactive

Want to show your work? Organise an exhibition! Think you’d benefit from a club for like-minded musicians? Start one! Create the opportunities you need. Creative Youth Network has lots of incentives you can take advantage of...get involved and you get space for rehearsals at discounted rates (50p/hour even!) and get put in touch with others who share in your ethos. 

It can be challenging but you’ll learn lots of new skills, gain experience for your CV, meet new people and have fun – all at the same time!

Get comfortable with rejection

Rejections can knock your confidence, but you can’t let a fear of failure hold you back. The creative industry is competitive, so you’ll need to have coping strategies in place to build that resilience and help you bounce back. Stay positive and write down what you’ve gained from each experience. Have you made new connections, shared your work? Play a game with yourself to see how many times you can be rejected in one week. Whatever it takes to get you over that fear – and you never know, one of those responses might surprise you!


Break it down into small, achievable steps

Its good to dream big, but sometimes the thought of all that work (and not knowing where to start!) can be overwhelming and counterproductive. View each ‘goal’ as the final destination and work backwards. Identifying what it is that’s preventing you from achieving it can help you set yourself realistic steps that will get you closer. Try out my goal mapping activity below, using different coloured pens to highlight barriers and solutions.


Keep it up!

Never underestimate the progress you’ve already made. The fact that you’re here, reading this, shows that already you are dedicating time to work on your skills and pursue your passion. Many people don’t ever take that step – keep it up!


How many of these tips do you already follow? What's been the most useful for your career? What's the scariest to try out? Let us know in the comments below and check out the Creative Futures programme which enables you to reach your creative potential.