When I was 10 years old, one of my teachers told the class that we would have multiple careers in our lifetime. I thought this was the wildest thing. My mother was an English teacher and my father worked in car advertising. Most of the adults in my life modeled this single-career trajectory. And while I was already aware at that age that I wanted to be an artist, no one could tell me how this would factor into the multitudes of my future work life.
Ten years after that fateful class, I left my studies in theatre to seek out a creative practice that gave me more control over my work. Frustrated that I had to wait for a part to be given to me by someone else, I turned to textile design in the hopes of being able to craft a name for myself through a more independent medium. But my ideas were too big and I was sleeping too little and eventually, burnout led me to abandon my creative practice altogether.
By 30, I had cycled back to the original longings that led me to pursue the life of an artist. Now older and wary of my ability to do serious damage to my health and financial wellbeing, I knew that in order to make any future iterations of my creative practice sustainable, I would have to approach it differently than I had in the past. So, for the next year and a half, I experimented and floundered and tried to figure out what different needed look like.
It was through this process that I came to think of myself and the things I was creating not as work but as creative assets. Creative assets are things that can be leveraged to support you and your future practice. They give form and value to your creative work in a way that’s clear and contained. And much like the promises of a many-faceted career path, the creative assets you build can span across multiple creative mediums.
In the first twenty years of my creative practice, I made the work I wanted to make. I didn’t ask for permission nor did I expect to make money off it. My understanding of what it meant to be a creative was limited to the popular starving artist and getting picked narratives. Looking ahead to the next two decades, I can see that the creative assets I’m working on give me more control over my professional practice than I ever imagined possible.
We live in a world where what’s rare is valuable. And while money will always have a place while capitalism reigns, more valuable still is having access to trust. When we build creative assets that folx can interact with and be changed by we are creating the opportunity for trust to emerge. The more the people who matter trust you, the more of their attention they give you. With that, they give you more opportunities to create your best work.
So, what assets are you building to support your creative work?