Take a Chance: Why You Should Hire an Artist
This photo is from a fabulous Planet Fitness Holiday Party from years back. I'm the silly one in the red. The rest of the group were my team. They were my "rock" while I evolved into what I was ultimately supposed to be.
When I told my parents that I was going to go to school for art (photography specifically), my father asked "so what's the backup plan?" I told him, "I don't have one...I am going to be an artist." He sighed and honestly, at that moment I assumed he wasn't being supportive, but that just wasn't true! He simply wanted me to succeed and was sure that it was going to be harder for me if I chose to study art. He knew that I had originally planned to go to school for photojournalism and expected me to go in that direction. Instead I threw him a curve ball by realizing I preferred fine art. Ultimately, I made a choice that defined me long after I graduated with my BFA.
Being an artist is not like other professions. Interviews post-grad that are for positions that will pay the bills do not always go well. For instance, unlike a typical candidate who might be asked, "so why this job?" an artist will be asked, "so why aren't you in your field?" I've honestly lost track of how many times I've been asked that one...
There seems to be an inherent stigma against artists when it comes to hiring them for work that isn't art-specific. As a strong writer with graphic design and photographic experience, I assumed I would be a triple threat. The truth is though, when you first enter the job market, that just isn't the case. For the first 6-8 months of being a achievement-driven graduate, I struggled to find even the most basic position. I knew I wanted to work at a marketing agency, but back then I couldn't even get an interview let alone that kind of job. I needed someone to take a chance on me...
Finally, after what seemed like a gauntlet of interviews I landed at Planet Fitness. To this day I am still thankful for that company's open mindedness. They saw me as a person and never asked me "the artist question." Over time I learned more than I ever could've dreamed of. I learned how to deal with all kinds of clients from actual gym customers to multi-million dollar franchisees. I learned how to sell a process and a franchise. I learned how to create systems, maintain databases and so much more. At the time, this didn't seem like it was leading to my dream career, but honestly, nothing could've prepared me better to be a marketer.
I'm not saying it was easy. In fact, I spent almost 3 years with Planet Fitness Corporate and then another year working for a franchisee before landing in marketing as an Ad Coordinator for Harger Howe Advertising.
I should note, my current boss didn't have a long roster of typical reasons to hire me. I had a BFA rather than a Marketing or English degree. I had no agency experience. I was not "the perfect candidate." But, he did hire me and I'm so thankful for that. He saw that I was willing to work for what I wanted and that part of what I wanted was to help an agency succeed. To this day, that hasn't changed.
I'm happy to have found where I belong, but I wouldn't be here without the people who took chances on me. Many artists have incredible potential that never gets recognized. Here are some reasons why:
-Some don't interview well
-Some weren't trained to do different types of work (but they can be!)
-Some require hands on coaching (rather than manuals)
-Some do nothing wrong at all
Employers who want multi-talented players should consider taking chances on artists. They're outside-the-box thinkers who enjoy finding solutions when giving the right opportunity. If they don't interview well, but they look good on paper, consider giving them an applied knowledge task or test. If they weren't trained, but show promise, consider asking if they would consider a lower rate until trained or possibly offer them an internship. If they require hands-on coaching, take the time to do so because different learning styles can yield different results (and variety is a good thing). Above all, don't dismiss them thinking that they should be in "their field" or that they will just leave when they find a better job.
Many artists went to school thinking they want to be one thing only to realize later that all they want in life is to pay the bills and have a genuine work/life balance. We are a largely untapped market of creative thinkers; scoop us up!
Thank you for reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to see more of my writing, head on over the Harger Howe Recruitment Blog.