Monday, March 17, 2014

Creative Business: Learning And Mastering Your Craft

by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

The subject of how to learn and master your craft is something I will like to address. Your craft may be mixed media art, photography, music, sculpting, sewing, furniture making or fashion designing, just to name a few creative mediums. However, regardless of your chosen mediums there is always room to learn and lots of opportunities to explore.

There are so many creative business ventures that you can pursue, and regardless of what path you choose it is important to learn and develop your skills. If you are a novice, it may take some time to get to a point where you feel confident to sell your work. If you are a skilled individual and you are making the shift to selling your work, I believe that it is equally important to focus on a continued learning plan. This will allow your work to stay fresh and to be competitive in an ever changing creative market.

Many of the creatives I have met over the years have been self-taught. There are also those that have formally studied their craft through a formal educational environment such as a college or university program. Apprenticeship has also been a proven method for many individuals.

It is important to find what works best for you. We are all unique and that includes how we learn. Various factors in our lives will influence our ability to learn and master our given craft. Supplies can be costly and so are tuition fees in some cases. However, learning and mastering your craft is an important aspect of a creative business and must be seen as professional and skills development. It is also an opportunity to fine-tune or refine your talents and can provide a unique opportunity for self directed learning.

Asking how far you are willing to go and how much time and money you are willing to invest on learning and mastering your craft is a good place to start. You will also want to think about where you will like your work to go and identify the skills you will need. If seen from the perspective of professional and skills development, then it can be incorporated into you business cost, as it would be in another business or work environment.

Approaching the process also means thinking about your options and perhaps exploring a combination of learning strategies:

Learning by exploration and experimentation can be a great way to start. This can provide you with an opportunity to discover where your passion lies and is a great way to develop new techniques. You can do this on your own by "playing" with your chosen medium(s) and simply seeing how things evolve. This somewhat "trial and error" approach can take time and may be costly depending on your medium(s). However, I think that it can also lend itself to self-discovery and help you to tap into your individuality.

The availability of books and other learning tools is vastly available on different creative subjects. There are countless books that can be found on ever subject imaginable. There are lots of great resources available at your local library or bookstore. If you will like to learn an old craft or art form, then an old bookstore, antique market or even thrift store is a great source of older books. If you find a book that is invaluable, consider adding it to your personal reference library.

Courses taken through formal educational institutions can be costly, but can provide you with expert instruction. There are college and university programs dedicated to different art forms. However, over the years I have seen a decline in the availability of some courses. This may be as a result of decreased interest, a lack of available qualified instructors or a combination thereof.

Workshops and Seminars
Workshops and seminars may be offered within a formal educational environment, but is often found through other creatives or suppliers. You can often find interesting workshops and seminars at local shops where the focus is on arts and creative supplies. You can also find sessions via arts and creative organisations. The extent of how informative these sessions are depends upon the expertise and instructional skills of the individual instructor.

Online Tutorials
Online tutorials, like in the case of experimentation can provide you with an opportunity to explore different techniques. The skill level of the individuals presenting the tutorial will vary, so it may take viewing numerous video tutorials to get some deeper insight. The other benefit however, is having an opportunity to see different ideas and concepts and there finished state. This provides you with an idea of what something may look like prior to developing your own ideas.

Traditionally this approach is how many craft persons, artisans, makers, designers and many others would have learned and developed their skills. Learning from experienced individual and gaining valuable skills from a working creative environment.

I have found that a combined approach is often the most effective. Develop a strategy that supports your learning style. You will want to approach this process in a way that will maximize your learning and enhances your creativity. Having an understanding of how you learn will go a long way to ensure you gain the skills you need and build upon your talents. Commit yourself to the process and enjoy the journey. Never stop learning and continue to explore your creativity.

Self Directed Learning
Identifying Your Learning Style

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