The Benefits And Struggles Young Artists Face

An artist, a pastry chef and a musician
The Benefits And Struggles Young Artists Face
SPENCER SELOVER

Bridget, Keenan and Sadi are artists from three completely different fields. They have come together to talk about the struggles they face, the benefits they enjoy and the advice they'd give to you.

What kind of artist are you? Which field of art would you say you belong to the most? 

Bridget: I am a pastry chef and cake decorator, so I’m from the culinary field.

Keenan: I’m a visual artist. I do fine art, painting, drawings… stuff like that.

Sadi: I am a music recording artist. I handle the production, recording, mixing and mastering of my music.

What made you start? 

Bridget: Ever since I can remember I’ve spent every Christmas making traditional sweets with my grandmother. As I grew up, it was something that I loved to do and always looked forward to. After I graduated high school still undecided on the path I wanted to pursue, looking at my grandma surround herself and everyone around her with happiness through desserts; I couldn’t help but realize it’s what I wanted for myself too.

Keenan: Well, I had come to a point where I was working a job that did not make me feel fulfilled. I had my safety net which was my business degree if my art didn’t work out for me. So, I decided to take the risk of leaving that job. It was a leap of faith and thankfully it worked out in my favor. So sometimes, you just have to take that chance and trust that your work is of value. 

Sadi: I used to live in Africa, then moved to Dubai and now I live in Mumbai. In fourth  grade, I heard the song In Da Club by 50 Cent. I was an impressionable kid and so when the song was in the top charts of the industry, I got into hip-hop a lot because of it. I really got into hip-hop in 2009 and heard the song Drop the World by Eminem and Lil' Wayne at an award show. I saw them perform and I used to perform with them on TV and my friends were with me and laughing at me but I didn’t care…I was performing and I felt like I was on stage with them. That day, I realized I had a serious interest in this so I started writing my own rhyme. I used to rhyme tap with cap but that’s where I started and now I’m releasing my first ever album coming soon.

What are the benefits of being a young artist today?

Bridget: In today’s world of technology and social media, publicizing your work really couldn’t get much easier. You really are your own boss, which means you don’t really have to answer to anyone but yourself. You get to do the work that you are passionate about and really believe in, not to mention letting you creativity run wild.

Keenan: In a larger perspective I definitely feel like you have two main benefits versus being an artist two or three decades ago. Being able to spread my work because of social media has helped me grow my following and also I can learn different forms of art media on the internet rather than going to a distinguished institution to learn the skill.

Sadi: Well, one of the biggest advantage is the ability to market ourselves by ourselves. I believe that the fact that we no longer need a middle man to market or distribute our work like in the traditional music industry. All you need today is an internet connection, your talent and an idea of what you want to be and you can do it all by yourself. You can take it a step further by investing into advertorials online that you can run by yourself. The opportunities to become famous is endless and the biggest part of being famous is that it gives recognition other music. So if you’re working really hard and you’re consistent, you can reach the people that need to hear you.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment so far and how did you get there?

Bridget: I’d say that my greatest accomplishment has to be my bronze medal at Gulf Food Dubai. I competed in a category called "4 Plates of Dessert' by Nestle, and it was the first competition I had done after leaving culinary school as head of my class. In line with 28 other competitors, some who had been working in the industry long before I was even born, and somehow I managed to bag the bronze. It may not be the gold that everyone hope for, but through the weeks of trial and error and the support from my culinary family it was all worthwhile.

Keenan: Setting up the ARTEX - the art exhibition for charity for kids with special needs through a community movement all around the U.A.E which was an encouragement for teenagers aged 13-18 to paint for a cause and donate their paintings and be philanthropic.
I got there because I felt like I did not have enough opportunity growing up to showcase and exhibit my art and it was not about earning money by selling my work. But, it was more about having my art put out there. So on that front what I did was create a platform for other people very similar to me who just wanted to showcase their art and wasn’t really bothered about the money. So I created ARTEX.

Sadi: My greatest accomplishment was finished my own independent, self-produced album. It’s called F.I.R.S.T – Fully Intentional Rarely Sighted Talent – and its set to come out on October 27th. I would say it’s my biggest success so far because I put almost five months of non-stop hard work into this and it has been a lot of sleepless nights, staying up till 7to 8am in the morning when my parents wake up. But you know, when you have to work – you have to work. The best part is, the image that I wanted my album to be when it starts was not how it looks when it finished but it’s not a bad thing because the music shaped the album. It taught me a lot and showed me what I’m really capable of.

What are some of the tough lessons you have learnt being an artist in your field?

Bridget: One of the toughest lessons I learnt is that majority of people will underestimate you simply because you do not have a big brand name behind your work.And probably one of the hardest situations to be in is being demeaned simple because of the amount of years you’ve worked in the industry.

Keenan: One of the toughest lessons I learnt is that people will constantly try to devalue you and try to bargain. People don’t respect creativity for what it is worth. This is my fave quote that I go by “if I spend 10 minutes doing a job, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do it.” So they have to pay me for those 10 years, not for those 10 minutes which is brilliant because people try to pay artists with exposure but exposure does not pay my bills. Art materials cost a lot of money. Exposure is not a valid form of payment and artists always get pressured into doing something like that. So now with a lot more experience, being able to turn people down – not in a rude way – but being able to say no is so important because you have to believe in your own worth.

Sadi: One lesson that I learnt recently is one that really slapped me in the face is that no matter how good your talent or your art may be, others may not share the same view as you yet. After you make the music, you now have another huge task and that is to share your ideas with everyone else. Because if no one knows what you’ve done, it does not mean anything unless people can hea it or feel something through it. So, no matter how great I think my music is, not everyone shares the same opinion as me and you have to really understand that and create some value for yourself.
There is also a need for a budget to make music with better equipment or you could rent out a studio, but take baby steps. You can’t jump straight to a recording studio sometimes and that is okay. You are responsible for how well your music is and how well it’s marketed.

What are some of the struggles you have had to deal with when you started out or still have to cope with now?

Bridget: Being a young artist definitely has a downside to it because you are never considered a professional and it can make you second guess you career choice. Not to mention the feeling of not being good enough can affect you mentally.

Keenan: It’s just the element of time where as an artist it is so risky to be a full time artist. So you go 50/50 or 70/30 where you’re doing your normal day job/school and you build on your art. So the more time you spend on your art, the better your work gets. Although, you cannot just cut everything else 100% and go into art. So yeah, the element of time is the struggle.

Sadi: One of the biggest struggles that I have to this day is that I don’t have the kind of money that I wish I did to invest more into my work. I have worked odd jobs here and there to buy the necessary, minimum amount of equipment to make a self-produced body of work. The things you can get if you have the financial backing is infinite but it’s not possible right now for me. Another struggle is that yes it is easy to market yourself but it requires a lot of work on your end because you have develop the right skill set to manage your own PR relations and your artwork. So all the work either falls on me or my team, if you have a team. Personally, my team is really tiny and I give them direction in order for me to get the result I want, but I do trust their opinions with my work. You can create as much content as you like but if you don’t market it, you won’t have that many people listening to it because the market is so saturated. I’ve been trying to make music for the last four years and that meant I had to handle college life along with my music. I had to put my music on the side sometimes to prioritize my studies that was tough because all I wanted to do was make music but I also had to get my education completed the right way rather than waste it.

What advice would you give to upcoming young artists when it comes to pursuing this career path?

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Bridget: My advice to starting in the culinary field is always believe in yourself, even when everything and everyone seems as though it’s against you, you have to have faith yourself and push forward. Don’t let your creativity be restricted and don’t let the dear of “not being good enough” restrict you. Get to know your customers and build meaningful relationships with them and always remember to be consistent!

Keenan: The main thing I would like to say to young artists is, don’t lose hope. Be self-motivated, draw inspiration from anywhere and tell your story the way YOU want to. Any inspiration is valid people and yes, learn the beauty of saying no and understanding the value of your worth. If you do fine art; there’s this phrase about practice makes perfect’ which is not true in the art world. Practice does not make perfect, it’s guided practice. You need to learn from what you’re doing and then put those skill into practice. For example: if you draw a wrong shape and you keep drawing the wrong shape, it’s never going to turn out right. But, if you watch a YouTube video or read a book to develop your skills – it’s guided practice and that’s what you need.

Sadi: One piece of advice I would give to anyone that’s coming is: no matter how much work you have put into something, stay grounded. It’s easy to get hyped over something you have created but it’s really important to humble because music is a subjective experience. What I feel when I listen to a song may not be how you feel about it. For example, one song in my album is called Trade Off. Now, the idea of the song is that it’s designed for people different walks of life to feel a connection. The song is a romantic song about the struggle of losing someone that you care about because of the work that you. But the idea is that someone else listening could feel something else. Know that people will react to your music very differently to what you expect and you need to be okay with that. Try to put yourself out there as much as possible. Find a way to network if you are an independent artist like going to open mics or any artist group meets so that you can get the best outreach as possible.