If you have a passion for art or music (or both!), you probably know you want a creative career. But unless you're ready to pick up a paintbrush or croon into a microphone, it can be hard to find a gig that will truly fulfill your need for that kind of creative outlet.
Well, good news: A career in art or music doesn't always mean creating the art yourself. Turns out, there are career options that allow you to interact with artists, help get their art into the hands of consumers, and talk with people who enjoy it just as much as you do. And, you can do it without any formal training in the arts.
How? We sat down with five professionals in the art and music arena to learn more about the paths they took to get to their dream jobs. From fighter jets to publishing, their backgrounds are all different—but whether they made it directly out of school or took a more roundabout route, they're now in a career they love.
Conference Director, Austin Film Festival
Erin Hallagan began her studies in playwriting and directing—eventually double-majoring in film and theater. After a few years, she moved home to DC, where she taught a graduate-level screenwriting course and worked part-time at an equestrian center. While she enjoyed both, neither really provided the creative outlet she was searching for. So, against everyone's advice, she quit her job, packed up, and moved across the country to Austin.
And even though Hallagan didn't know anyone or have anything lined up when she arrived in the new city, she quickly found her niche at the Austin Film Festival as a film programmer. After a short six months, she moved into the conference department, where she puts together the Screenwriters Conference each year.
Co-founder and CTO, Artsicle
Former nuclear engineer Scott Carleton didn't necessarily grow up loving art (he preferred entertaining the dream of flying fighter jets). But, once he was established in the working world, he knew he wanted it on his walls—and quickly found out that buying that art wasn't quite as easy as he thought: "There were barriers to getting something that I liked," he remembers.
Drawn to the ingenuity of startups, Carleton knew what he could do. "I realized that this could be a service that would be of use." And so, he co-founded Artsicle, where he's the technical lead, "which means I build all the things!" he shares—meaning the servers, the website itself, and anything and everything involving tech. All to make amazing art more accessible to the masses.
Associate Director, Music Programming, Lincoln Center
After graduating with a degree in English literature, Kate Monaghan managed to land a job in publishing—and promptly realized that it wasn't the career for her. Instead, she decided to pursue a role that focused on one of her longtime interests: music. "The reason that I work at Lincoln Center is that I love music—and we work with the best musicians in the world."
In her current position, Monaghan oversees all the print materials that have to do with upcoming performances, including programs, press releases, and marketing materials, making sure every detail is accurate. She also gets to hire artists for Sunday morning "Coffee Concerts" and lecturers to introduce the shows.
Customer Experience and Operations Coordinator, 20x200
Tamara always knew she wanted to go into the creative field, no matter what. Well, the “no matter what” turned into going to art school at the Rhode Island School of Design. Although she studied apparel design, she ended up in production design for film and TV after graduation and later became a professional art framer.
Eventually, her scope narrowed a little as she started working for small startups and digital agencies—all of which gave her the perfect background for a role at 20x200.
Now, Tamara spends her days immersed in art—talking to collectors, responding to emails and customer inquiries, and making sure prints get into the hands of the people who can’t wait to display it.
VP of Product, Spotify
Charlie's interest in the digital music industry first took off in college, with two distinct defining experiences: Discovering Napster and landing an internship at EMI (a multinational music and publishing company). He then spent a few years at LimeWire, where he was recruited by Spotify, which was getting ready to launch in the U.S. market. He knew it was the perfect opportunity—after all, "Everyone who works here is a real die-hard music fan."
As the VP of product, Hellman's job is to make the Spotify user experience as awesome as possible—which usually means working with all teams within the company, listening to their ideas, and solving any problems they've uncovered.