How to Build and Sustain a Creative Life (UT Panel takeaways)

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Thanks to everyone who came out to our panel, You Are Not a Starving Artist: How to Build and Sustain a Creative Life at UT this past Wednesday. There was a LOT to synthesize from this generous conversation and I'll be spending the month of April sifting through the golden nuggets. 

Our panelists touched on so many things: school, rejection, day jobs, motherhood, and what they did when "power didn't look like me." They talked about the importance of being organized, finding like-minded souls, and being scrappy AF.

While their paths and stories were so different, there were definitely some key themes. Here are some take-aways I thought worth sharing:


1. Community is everything.
Who you surround yourself with is everything. Show up where you're interested and build a community of like-minded people. Take interest in others, be generous, and participate. Support people who do the same.

2. Start something. It will lead somewhere.
Start a business, a band, a gallery. Don't wait for someone else to give you legitimacy, a budget, or permission. Start your own thing. 

3. Get a job with perks.
Time is a perk, community is a perk, flexibility is a perk, discounted art supplies are perks. Know what you need most and prioritize that into your working life.

4. Get rejected. Stay strong.
Rejection happens. A lot. But it also leads to exposure and opportunity. 

5. Life is relentless. You'll need to adapt.
Life is hard. Build some skills and adapt those skills to what people may need. Find out where your creativity is useful to you and to others. Be willing to adapt.

6. Make spaces work for you.
Make your garage, your kitchen table, or your backyard a studio. Work with what you have. Share a space if you have to. Keep making things.

7. Don't try to "win."
Being an artist is not something to accomplish, it's a way of living. Take out the "winning" and "losing," "succeeding" or "failing." Claim the word as a way of living, not as something to achieve and it will be easier to sustain yourself emotionally and creatively.