college and career resources for high school students...

Visual Art Tips:

We are in the process of collecting interviews with a variety of visual artists. Here is our first from commercial photographer, Jeffrey Ross.

Name: Jeffrey Ross
Company: Ross Creative Works
Occupation: Commercial Photographer
College: University of Central Florida
Major: Humanities
Blog: jeffreyworks.com/the-blog/
I've been a commercial photographer for over 17 years. I began by taking photos of families and children because I realized that it was a way to make quick money that I could use to buy more camera gear and equipment. I soon moved on to commercial photography., And now I travel all over the world, working on advertising and marketing assignments for companies and organizations. I absolutely love to travel and meet new people. There are some tough days, but it's never boring.
Jeffrey's Top 5 Tips:
1. Understand that working in the Creative Arts means unpredictable schedules and long hours.
2. Learn to network.
3. Become an assistant or intern to a working professional in your desired field.
4. Take a business course, or learn about marketing & sales. That's a big part of what you'll be doing.
5. Learn how to talk about your art and your passion. You will need to learn how to promote yourself and share your interests with others.

What are some questions I should ask myself when choosing a creative major?  What do you really want to do with your creative skills? Do there seem to be people working out there in the fields you are interested in pursuing? Is there any way you can talk to some of those professionals right now so you can get some tips and advice from them on how to proceed? Do you have the self-motivation and the drive to push yourself if you have to work as a free-lance artist?

What are some questions I should ask myself when choosing a college? Are the instructors working professionals or have experience with real-world scenarios? Does their program give any attention to learning about the business side of working in the creative arts? Are the facilities, classrooms, and work areas up to date with the latest computers and equipment? Does their Art Department have a Facebook page or blog where you can check out some of the work the students are currently doing? Do they have any exhibitions, performances, or shows that you can attend?

What questions should I ask when visiting a college? Ask if you can talk to the instructors and current students. Also see if they have a list of alumni currently working in the field you are interested in. It is good to talk to graduates to see if they liked the program or if it was lacking something. Ask about their focus on business fundamentals. A good arts school will make sure you have a strong portfolio, creative marketing materials, and know the basic nuts and bolts of your particular field so you can actually get out there and work.

What is your message to parents of high school seniors who are wanting to major in the arts?  No matter what discipline your student pursues, they need to understand that this business takes a ton of hustle, hard work, and self-promotion. The hours are often unpredictable and income can fluctuate drastically from week to week. But in the end- there's nothing I'd rather do. It is exciting, and I've had so many wonderful experiences.

What is your message to high school seniors who want to major in the arts?  Yes, there is a career for you out there. But you will need to work hard to get where you want to be. Don't be afraid to knock on doors, make some phone calls, and ask to meet people. You will need to get out of your comfort zone occasionally and ask questions to professors and working professionals. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and be willing to take criticism as a learning experience. Learn to talk about your art and your passion.

What are some of the different careers/jobs you have either had or are familiar with?  For photography you can focus on Commercial, Architectural, Family/Children, Weddings, Lifestyle, Travel, etc. Jobs that exist in conjunction with the photography industry include; stylist, hair/makeup, set designer, prop designer, location scout, producer, assistant, studio manager, agent (promoter), digital tech, and retoucher.

What are your tips, strategies, and actions for students to take while in college?  Learn how to network. Join arts groups, student groups, and even professional organizations. Try to join boards in these groups or take on leadership positions. Strong networking skills will really benefit you after graduation. Also try to assist someone working in your field. You will learn a great deal seeing how working professionals handle the little day-to-day problems that you won't learn about in school. Lastly, learn how to handle your bank account and stick with a budget.

Is there a resource you recommend? ASMP (for photographers) - http://asmp.org/ APA (for photographers) - http://apanational.org/ AIGA (for graphic designers) - https://chicago.aiga.org/ Lynda.com - help with almost any design/photography related program - http://www.lynda.com/