Arts, Education, and Journalism

Last week I started my new job. The first day was a whirlwind of information, new faces with names I still might not remember, Excel spreadsheets and really helpful individuals. The woman whom I'm replacing is incredibly sweet and thankfully on the same floor of the college, so she trains me a bit everyday so that slowly I can acquire all of the knowledge she's gained in 12 years at the job, (not 7, but 12!). She understands that it would be impossible to learn all of the little and big things that I need to know how to do all at once, and is basically just teaching me as they come up. It is so amazing to be have bosses/people around me who understand that you can't do a job well until you've had full and proper training. Most people would assume that this is standard, but I can attest from a hellish experience that it isn't always. So being on the same page about taking things slow and learning things the right way is refreshing and calming. I've been told that it will take me about 9 months to a year to have the job down, so it makes me feel good despite the fact that I don't have all the answers yet.

I've had a couple of big projects to handle already because I came in at the busiest time of the year - beginning of fall quarter - but I think I've handled them pretty well considering. Last week I attended 2 meetings: a Division meeting (for the Arts & Humanities Dept. in which I work) and a summit on Arts Education in the Tacoma area that my boss put on. It was held at the Tacoma Art Museum, and was a really interesting event to watch and think about. There were other professors/instructors from local colleges/universities, museum representatives, high school arts reps, arts commission and organization people and local artists as well. The main topics of discussion were what is it that students need to know about continuing art after school ends, what is the community doing for art, and how can these two things be brought together to benefit the other. It seemed like there was a lot of general consensus about what needed to happen, and some interesting points were brought up, but I felt like one integral group pertinent to the discussion was not represented or being spoken about: artists who are my age, or who also graduated college recently. They talked a lot about what happens when you're in school, but not a lot after. Also, I feel that (as an artist myself, and also as a friend to many working artists) recent college grads don't always know the ways in which they can make their art and still be able to afford rent. It's usually a case of one or the other, and it really shouldn't have to come down to that.

The business side of art isn't always taught in school, (it's even sometimes avoided), and as a result some 20-somethings come out of college not knowing what to charge for their art, how to do your taxes when you make/sell art, what resources are available to them, how to get medical insurance if their jobs don't provide it, etc. I know there are some great resources out there, (Artist Trust, 4 Culture, Tacoma Arts Commission, to name a few), that do support artists in their endeavors, but there really needs to be more. There should just be a class, an integral, pre-requisite class in all art curriculum around the country that breaks all of this information down for those who are entering the "real world." Art shouldn't have to be stifled because of lack of knowledge about how to live and be an artist concurrently. The two should be able to occur harmoniously, and when that happens both the artist and communities benefit.

In summation, I really liked that art summit. It got me thinking, and I even asked a question towards the end, (I was helping out the boss lady by writing notes about the discussion on the wall, but finally opened my mouth). She later thanked me for doing such a great job at the event, then two days later her boss emailed me, thanking me for for my good work as well. All of this positive reinforcement so early into the job is wonderful, and is making me confident in my decision to work here, and in my abilities to do the job well.

In the middle of last week, something really really rad happened. Clare (Rick's bro Riley's gf) called and asked if I was still interested in freelancing for the Tacoma Weekly. It was really ironic, because just that day I was daydreaming and thinking about how I should try and get a hold of the Weekly Volcano, because it seemed that the Tacoma Weekly wouldn't work out. Not so, my friends! I met with her boss the next day, and he pretty much hired me then and there to write for the Arts & Entertainment dept. solely on Clare's word. I had no newspaper clips to speak of prior to that meeting, so it meant a lot that he agreed to hire me on a part-time basis not having seen a paragraph of my work. Although I haven't exactly had journalistic stuff published, I have done tons of reviews for various classes in college, so it's not anything I'm not familiar with. I did my first review this past weekend on an art gallery show that recently opened in Tacoma, and also have taken over the Calendar section. I'll be writing at least one A&E article per week and updating both the physical/online calendars in the future, so this will be a regular, ongoing gig. Today I had the physical article in my hand, and it felt unreal. It was so sweet to see my name on the page connected to a piece I wrote and am proud of. I know many friends who write for papers or magazines and have been published for years, some on a daily basis, and they've probably forgotten this feeling. But I want to try to hold on to it as long as I can.

And with that, I've had a most awesome week. I finished the Murakami book, (hooray!), Rick and I are gonna work on some new Balls Crazy joints, and I have an income again! I hope everyone else is enjoying/experiencing life just as much.

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