Finding Your Niche
Teaching is my thing and my medium is Multimedia. Is that a fair statement? It’s not like I’m going into the field to do Graphic Design for an Ad agency. I’m not getting hired to do motion graphics for the TV station. I’m not working for the college filming and editing videos for marketing as a full time gig either. What I can tell you though, I do in fact incorporate all these skills as a freelance Multimedia Strategist, creating marketing and branding for companies and organizations. This is a side gig. I think most Adjunct professors from the Arts, dabble in the industry on the side to stay alive. I just have a lot of irons in the fire. I enjoy the range of courses I teach. I also love that teaching in different multimedia courses, keeps me sharp and more well-rounded for contributing as a partner for many businesses who need to launch their brand.
In the Spring right before the pandemic left us all at home to stay for a while, I applied for a Full-time Lead position at Front Range. I was hesitant because I don't necessarily want to stop everything I'm doing right now. I would have to put school off a little longer when I know the degree is an absolute must. I really think I have to be more flexible than the high demands of an 8-5 or 5-7 days per week job, on and off campus. I saw the posting came back up and they are in the steps of hiring for this position with many modifications. Unfortunately, the requirements were modified after they had to pull back due to the Corona virus in March. They postponed the hire and made new decisions over the Summer to what they need now. This is requiring more Animation skills than I have, but suddenly I'm okay with it since I don't want all the added administrative duties that have been added. I want to be somewhere that can consider me a valuable member of the team. I really want all my eggs in one basket, but the BFA degree is a must. I am still not quite ready for this one.
I did just find a very intriguing opportunity from Creative Arts Network, found on Indeed. They're seeking Teaching Artists, Video, and Multimedia Arts. I love the fact they're a non-profit organization supporting the youth and young artists using art as a creative vehicle. The organization is competitive in its pay and is based out oi New York. They strive to support the growth of the youth and they state, "Our programs build confidence, unlock a love of learning, and teach valuable technical, developmental, life and job skills". This sounds like a group or organization I could connect with. I can see I'm going to require a good balance or management, communication, and experience with active learning. This position will require a lot of compassion and the ability to work with a wide range of diverse backgrounds and demographics. Another plus that I happen to have for this position is a background in gallery exhibitions and creating multimedia experiences for events. The best connection I have here is the demand for strong storytelling skills.
See posting: HERE
A job listing that was disturbing to stumble upon was a company looking for a Visual Arts Teacher for 10$ an hour! Is this really still happening? What? Do some people undervalue our profession and assume we are just having a blast and we can shoot creativity out of our fingertips? This is a disgrace! I have been bullied too much and I refuse to not have some balance restored! I didn't even bother sharing the link.
Looking for a Design / Multimedia Arts Teacher? Well, I found a top-notch charter school in LA seeking a very dynamic instructor who can demonstrate active instruction, and process learning for college and the job market. I think this one describes me to the T! They require a Bachelor of Arts, and a Teaching Certificate. I have both of these… well, not quite. This is where I realize I’m applying myself to positions I want to be in, and I believe I am close to qualified for, but I do not have the degree quite yet to show for it. This has been the struggle with working in so many areas plus being a student and a Mother. I simply do not have the ability to perform as a full-time student to get to that degree any faster. I must continue to work toward that next step. See posting: HERE
Most of the side work I do is about helping independent businesses create a brand, build marketing materials, set up a website, and film content for the site. This requires me to have good knowledge of the industry, and the business to develop a brand that fits. I also have to have a vision for how their identity will travel and what are the key components to getting them set up the way they need to be. If they need a website, I help design and launch that, as well as train them to take over the updating. I have camera operator skills and editing skills to produce biographies, or company promo or training videos. With all of this, I need to have a strategy for how these pieces align with the brand, and how they will be introduced into the market.
What if I look at teaching? I require real-world experience to educate my students with real expectations and first hand knowledge. I also have to maintain skill building and training towards changes in the way design is considered as well as the knowledge over the programs to keep things relevant for the students.
I think a special niche is training. I want people to understand why their brand is the way it is. I want them to know how to use their brand and to manage themselves. I believe one thing that’s come from my last 10 clients or so, the education piece. People want to know how to take their brand and manage their business. More often these days, people want to learn a little back-end skills to maintain their own websites, to create flyers, or business swag. I enjoy helping people by providing them with the media pieces and initial designs, but them train them on how to be self-reliable, and accessible. Businesses need to know how to succeed with communication as a main vehicle.
As a teacher, I’m doing something similar. I support my students by engaging them with real-world projects, with proper expectations, and by providing them professional experience. It’s my responsibility to teach them technical skills first, and then I mentor them as they apply their skills to real projects. I support their creative journey of self-discovery, and I continue to let the slack go as they become more self-reliant.
A sample of an organization that seems exciting is this position I found who’s hiring for a range of Digital and Traditional Artists to teach in a fun and exciting workplace. I read all these job listings and they sound energizing, fun and exciting. In return that’s exactly thi=e kinds of things employers are looking for from the teachers they hire. Employers want you to be adaptable, have good communication skills, be able to lead and research. Employers want enthusiasm so you can spread positive energy and have good technology and software skills, (“7 Skills Your Instructors and Trainers Must Have,” 2019).
What about expectations clients have when it comes to the people, they hire to do their design work? People are looking for someone ho knows their stuff. They are hiring an expert, it’s important to act like one, even if that means we “fake it until we make it”. This term is used loosely as I’ve adopted it from time to time after my fabulous mentor/friend once told me, “Hay Kristina, if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to shoot from the hip. Fake it until you make it and you will grow from each experience”, (Kaylie Hall, 2016).
If you show people you are not sure, they will use and abuse you. You cannot give yourself over like a puppet on strings. “The beginning of every working relationship is arguably the most important phase”, (20 Ways to Set and Manage Client Expectations During Onboarding, n.d.).
You have to establish boundaries, set some rules up front, and lead with confidence. There’s a good reason they’re reaching out to you to begin with, they need you. Be confident and show them you are reliable, organized, and proficient.
For a long time, I’ve served a community of corporations, and a variety of small businesses. They hire me back because I’m reliable and consistent and I’m affordable compared to the steep increase they could be paying from someone who has more years in the industry, and more expensive gear.
My work has felt repetitive at times. It also felt limited due to equipment until this last year when I started offering more services, and 2 years ago I built a crew to send out for creative content. These were smart decisions I made at the time to support some of my former students as well as introduce a new chapter for my own self as a creative director. My clients were asking me for professional advice, creative direction, and professional training. I want to step in and start training professionals in businesses who want to work for themselves and develop a creative team. I become an external resource, a reliable partner and advocate for the business and the team.
How does my teaching support this? I get to work to revise my curriculum as I continue to implement my ideas into different settings, with different demographics. Teaching fuels my abilities as long as I stay on top of things. A creative setting requires organization if you really want to get from A to B an remember all the in-between.
A few problems I will want to address when I graduate are:
How can I expand my knowledge in Design as it applies to education and training?
Where do I want to go next for my Master’s degree?
How can I revamp my brand to embody Education and Training?
How can I create a place for students to be creative and gain professional experience?
How do I promote my service to a new market of business professionals?
How do I improve my own abilities in instructional design?
How can I create and deliver meaningful and engaging experiences using Design as the vehicle?
These are self-centered a little and broad to say the least. I want to look at my business as the backbone to delivering design and education to my clients. My business model should be about me as a Creative Professional, and my work as an Adjunct should support the workforce I want to teach. I need to know what it takes to run an independent organization that works with big business to offer professional development in a different setting than the traditional classroom or college environment.
7 Skills Your Instructors and Trainers Must Have. (2019, March 22). HR Daily Advisor. https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2019/03/22/7-skills-your-instructors-and-trainers-must-have/
20 Ways to Set and Manage Client Expectations During Onboarding. (n.d.). Shopify. Retrieved September 7, 2020, from https://www.shopify.com/partners/blog/client-expectations
Kaylie Hall, Graphic Designer, 68 Designs LLC, January 2016.