Fingers in pies: a cultural worker’s strategy

I’m part of owner of a Magazine based in Ottawa called Guerilla. You may have seen links to articles from this magazine pop up from time to time in Art Listings Professional – especially when a new issue comes out. The picture below is the launch party Saturday night of Issue #22. It was a hip, stylish and fashion-heavy event and you can read about it here.

It actually kinda tickles me pink that I could not attend and yet  something I had helped build was going off terrifically well and being the toast of the town. But why I am writing this blog post is because it is the fruit of my strategy over ten years ago and still applies today.

When I graduated from art school, I needed a job ASAP and struggled to learn HTML. I learned Photoshop as well and even some Shockwave, Director and the Amiga Toaster (not exactly considered high art stuff at the time).

What happened though was I was an artist with IT technical skills – I could bridge a gap few could at that time. I got a job at the Ottawa School of Art not because of any art skill or experience, but because I knew how to make a website. My multi-media installation at the Museum of Civilization came around because I had art ideas tempered by technical solutions. When Guerilla’s web guy left, they were in danger of folding so I took the chance and dove into creating a Joomla! CMS website – and due to the hard work of the editor and contributors, it has thrived to be the arts and culture magazine for our nation’s capital.

As well as being involved with promoting exhibits and a few galleries along the way, keeping my fingers in several pies due to a unique skill and niche interest has resulted in unique opportunities. Now that a couple of them have started to really take off, what should I do? Keep doing the same thing, of course. Applying for a grad program next month based on my art and web interest.

Web skills will almost certainly be a skill in demand and open doors for you, as a cultural worker. Though web designers are a dime a dozen these days, it is your intrinsic understanding of an industry and communications insight that makes you very valuable. At the end of the day, it still about relationships and using a unique skill to build those relationships throughout varied opportunities is still a smart cultural worker’s strategy.

Guerilla Magazine's launch of Issue #22 at The Loft salon, Ottawa, Dec 12 2009

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