Join art associations, take classes, join MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), or simply organise your own. Meetup.org is also a great way to meet other people to do activities with. Above was my first proper life drawing session. In attendance were professional painters, graphic artists, animators, as well as bankers, computational linguists, programmers, and project managers as well, so there are a lot of interesting people to meet. The price was €10 for two hours, which for me, was expensive, but worth the experience.
Meeting other creatives could of course open up opportunities for collaboration–or they may refer you to a job. They could also provide you with practical information, such as where to buy good art materials, what are the going rates for freelancers, and so on.
There are no end to the free cultural activities in Barcelona. In fact, for my final project for my master’s program I have considered creating an app to find these activities, and have also created a page dedicated to free or nearly-free activities in Barcelona. The challenge really is to find them and find the time to attend these.
Above is a free workshop I attended with Gerson at the Institut del Teatre. The topic was co-creation and digital distribution with interesting lectures on innovations for theatre, opera, exhibitions, and other broadcasted performances, including a presentation by Digital Theatre co-founder Robert Delamere.
Seize Opportunities to Practice
Portrait sketching is not easy. There is the time pressure, the vulnerability of working in public, having to fight the impulse to make conversation and concentrate, and of course, churning out portraits one after the other is not easy. Not as easy as when you’re not getting any takers. On La Rambla, the famous touristic boulevard in Barcelona, you will see artists everyday, from morning till night, in the heat or in the cold, doing who knows how many portraits a day. Prior, I’d done sketches to raise funds for typhoon victims at a Komikon back home, so I felt somewhat confident that I could pull it off on La Rambla. However, to work on La Rambla apparently requires a permit.
Instead, when my friend Masha started working for a Russian magazine, I had the opportunity to participate in an art market to sell sketches for charity. I shared a table with Rubina and Sabina, half-Russian, half-Bangladeshi twins. They were able to sell a couple, while I on the other hand, sold none.
A month later, I did free portraits for the guests at the magazine’s 2nd anniversary party.
Some portraits from that evening:
For some reason, I decided to do all the portraits in watercolour, which, given that I’d not had much practice doing so, I wasn’t that pleased with the outcome. But in any case, it was good practice and I got to meet some lovely Russian and Ukrainian women (are there any other kind?)
Do Things Not Just For the Money
Above is a poster for a charity market in Moscow organized by my friend Masha. It is to raise funds to buy a breathing machine for Martha, a child born with cystic fibrosis, a chronic illness affecting mainly the lungs, but also the liver, intestine, and pancreas as well.
I was happy to learn that they were able to raise enough money to buy the machine. In Russia, where they do not perform lung transplants for some reason, the median age for survival is 25 due to the unavailability or high cost of medication and equipment.
I’ve also designed logos, album covers and tattoos for some acquaintances.
Do Other Jobs
Through my university, I was able to get a some freelance work as a graphic designer. The work involved polishing up a 33-page powerpoint presentation, with a turnaround time of less than 24 hours. I worked for about 15 hours straight, didn’t get any sleep.
But in the end, I got paid, which is the most important thing for anyone to survive.
As you see, most of these strategies did not result in paid work. But those that didn’t either gave me the opportunity to practice my craft or to make connections, which are nonetheless, valuable, in any case.
Show Your Work and Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Photo credits: Some of the photos were taken from the Tvoi Gorod Barcelona page.