5 Ways to Build Your Artistic Career Through Volunteering

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Are you an artist? Do you dream of a creative career? Sure, it may seem like there isn’t as clear a “path” to becoming an artist as the path for, say, becoming a doctor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it…especially if that’s where your passion lies. You just have to be proactive.

The most crucial piece of building a career is gaining hands-on experience. While your first idea might be to work at a museum or find an internship with a graphic design firm, those opportunities can be tough to land, and are often competitive. So get those creative juices flowing, think outside the box, and volunteer.

Often, non-profit organizations are in desperate need of talented individuals who can help advance their mission by contributing in-demand artistic skills on a volunteer basis. Think about it:  perhaps you’ve noticed a poster advertising an event to benefit a local nonprofit. Who designed that poster?  Maybe someone like you! If you volunteer yourself, you’re a) helping an important cause, and b) gaining the hands-on artistic experience you need for your resume or portfolio.

Here are a few tips for developing your art career through volunteering:

1. Start with nonprofit organizations in your area. Approach one that’s doing work you admire. Then offer your skills: writing, music, graphic design, illustration, filmmaking, or anything else they could use! It’s important to have some ideas in mind before you approach them.

2. Find art-oriented nonprofits as well, and volunteer your time. Does your community have an “arts council?” A monthly “art walk” or “gallery crawl?” It so, connect with the organization’s volunteer coordinator. By surrounding yourself with an artistic community, you’re essentially building a professional network!

3. Get matched up. Check Volunteer Match and search for “Arts and Culture” opportunities. An organization near you might be looking for someone with your skills.

4. Keep track of your activities. It’s never too early to start a resume or an art portfolio  – you never know when someone might ask to see your work! If you start now and add as you gain experience, you won’t forget what you’ve done.

5. Start by simply volunteering with an organization that’s important to you. Sure, you might start by giving dogs a bath at the Humane Society, but once they know you, they might be willing to give you a shot at some of their marketing materials.

No matter how you get started, the important thing is to be prepared with ideas, examples, and an enthusiastic attitude.

What successes have you had in building your art career already? After reading these tips, where might you begin volunteering in your area?

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