by Kyanne Smith
As part of Meg’s career change, she contacted her friend Adrian who works in a small, local art Gallery and learned more about his work and how he got started. Two weeks later, things are progressing and she enters the following in her Career Journal….
I took my weaving work to the Gallery to show Adrian today. He was impressed and said he’d like to include it in the gallery’s exhibition next month.
This is such an unexpected result from our original meeting. I went in thinking I’d learn a bit more about his job and get some ideas about my own career change. I had hoped it would give me a bit of inspiration, but I didn’t expect this outcome.
My weaving has always been a hobby – something enjoyable and creative to keep me going when work is not great. Having some positive feedback and encouragement has been wonderful, but it has also been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, which I didn’t expect.
On the one hand it’s given me a real confidence boost because someone appreciates my weaving. On the other hand I feel more uncertain of myself than ever. This is not my day job where I know what I’m doing! I wonder if my work is really good enough for this? Does it belong in the exhibition with those other ‘proper’ textile artists?
I can feel the imposter syndrome circling …. I’ll be found out, I’m not a real artist, and I’ll be sent packing. Then what will I do?
Big surprise today! I got a phone call from a small interstate gallery. Sandy introduced herself and said she saw my weaving at Adrian’s Gallery. He gave her my details.
Sandy is putting together a new textile exhibition in the next few months, called Home Grown. She wanted to know if they could display my weaving work. Apparently this exhibition will feature the work of artists who make their own textiles or produce textile works on a small scale at home.
My work has definitely been ‘home grown’ so I am really excited to be included! I told her I’d be happy to be part of the exhibition. Sandy said she’ll coordinate the transfer of the ‘works’ to her Gallery. I am thrilled but really nervous.
My career change still isn’t happening, but my hobby seems to have taken off! I am surprised, pleased, curious and wondering where this will lead …
Another month goes by and Meg reflects in her career journal. She’s had a few ‘win’s along the way, but now she feels she’s back to square one and is unsure what to do from here.
It’s now four weeks since I had my work in the gallery exhibitions and I wrote to Adrian and Sandy today to thank them for their support. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated being considered and included. The career books I’ve read recommend making regular contact with your professional network, letting people know you’re interested and available, so I made sure Adrian and Sandy know I’m very keen. At this point I’d be happy with any work in a gallery or even more volunteer work. It’s a fine line this networking! I want them to know I’m interested and to remember me, but worried I might make a nuisance of myself if I call too often, and then I’ll miss out. (Perhaps I need to make some new connections and broaden my network? )
Being involved in the textile exhibitions last month was wonderful. I got to be part of that world and it gave me a taste of what a career in that industry could be like. I really enjoyed it and I felt like I belonged there. I still had to go to work, but while all the exhibition activity was happening, work was bearable. I had something to look forward to and focus on. My work colleagues (at my regular job) even noticed that I was more happy and energetic. I took that as a good sign for this career change, because one of my goals is to find work that is engaging, uplifting and enjoyable. It definitely ticked those boxes! But since then, there’s been no more interest in my work, no job offers, volunteer gigs or exhibitions. It’s gone very quiet and I’m wondering what to do now?
I’ve followed all the stuff the career books advised : I’ve done an information interview, I’ve volunteered (lots!), put my work into exhibitions, talked to dozens of artists, gone to countless galleries and launches, and checked all the job websites for vacancies. Perhaps being part of the exhibitions was just a nice random bonus for me? I can’t help but wondering if that’s all it will amount to. I’m feeling pretty down and discouraged today.
If things aren’t happening for me then perhaps I’m on the wrong path? How long should I keep trying – weeks, months… years? (I’m not sure I can stick it out that long!).
My biggest question at this point is how do you know if you’re on the right path with a career change? I’d also like to know what to do when your career change stalls!