8th May 2021

Freelance Artist Gig Life: Do Something 

Freelance Artist

Freelancers and artists speak a language that can be considered speaking in code because most “normal” or conventional people wouldn’t get it. Why? Because those with a more conventional lifestyle rely on schedules, systems, regularity,  and predictability.  I very much believe that there is no right or wrong in living an unconventional or conventional lifestyle.

The most important question to ask oneself would be “What works for me?” 

In having a conversation with the right-hand-man of a major Grammy Award winning recording artist, songwriter, and producer, we were discussing life on the road. We were noticing that his wife being in the business as an artist and performer, although in a different capacity, helps in the success of his career and relationship. They lived the “gig life” together.

They learned as successful adult professionals that one can really never predict the future. We as artists have wish lists and dream jobs, but all you really can do is be prepared, and “put it out in the universe” in the form of auditioning, submitting for jobs and staying connected.

The couple said, “Always do SOMETHING.” Do something to propel you toward your goal.

If you do something, something will happen. It may not be in the form of what you originally intended, but something else will happen. This life presents the choices that shape our lives as artists, and move us forward in some capacity.

Life as an artist rarely looks like the roadmap we originally drew for ourselves as students or young professionals; before we really understood what the unconventional lifestyle of an artist really meant.

How do you explain this life to friends, family, and significant others? How do you explain that your lifestyle includes rapidly changing circumstances, possible long stretches of unemployment coupled with periods of time when you are ridiculously busy and barely keeping your head above water with the long work hours? Hours that you love, of course.

Oh, and we can’t forget that those periods of time when you are not employed may be filled with hours and hours of hard work on your craft: learning new songs or monologues, taking dance technique classes, or learning new skills to make you more valuable in the arts and entertainment fields. Or better yet, how do you explain that your bout of unemployment is suddenly over, and you have to leave town for a month.  Or Year.

After spending my adult life in the arts and entertainment, a few things are certain.

Unpredictability is not for everyone, but it is never boring. Ever. New faces and new creative gigs keep your brain active and spirit alive.

Even if one is engaged in a long-term contract, performing or working on the same show for extended periods of time with repetition will most often find you in happening cities. Again, not exactly uninspiring.

I don’t subscribe to the belief that those that give everything up or make huge sacrifices to pursue their art form are better or truer artists, or “closer to God.”  Each to their own. I admire people who live safer and more traditional life paths.

But there is something to be said for extraordinary individuals who, regardless of what it takes, wish to practice and pursue their craft.

Individuals who will work survival jobs, move to new cities all alone, or find some way to do what their hearts dictate are remarkable. This creates a depth and integrity that only other artists truly “get,” hence the bonds of those in the theater. It’s the unspoken understanding and mutual respect that make our theater friends our family.

It’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you will have regrets. You may have regrets of doing nothing to move your life forward as an artist. You will never regret trying something new, meeting new people, or taking a risk. Soooo…. We had better get going and do something. Right?


Also by Jill Wolins:

Tour Life: Pros, Cons And Helpful Advice

Compromising Your Art: Morphing To Fit Someone Else’s Vision

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Author Jill Ann Wolins started dancing as a child and continued competitively at the age of 9. She extended her dance education at the State University of New York in Buffalo, receiving her BFA as a dance major. Jill was awarded numerous scholarships for dance including Duke University American Dance Festival (ADF), Giordano Chicago, and six years at Steps on Broadway, NYC, which aided her transition into the professional dance world. Her professional dance career started with Disney, Orlando. Jill continued as a NYC Radio City Rockette for ten years. Broadway National tours include The Producers and Will Rogers Follies, and regional tours include Sweet Charity and Grease! TV and Film credits include The Producers, David Letterman (CBS), Disney Christmas Special (ABC), and Radio City Christmas Spectacular holiday commercials. Some of Jill’s favorite credits include assisting the choreographer, John Dietrich, for the opening segment of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing in tribute to Lena Horne at Lincoln Center, and dancing with Chita Rivera at the Kennedy Center, DC. Some international dance and teaching experiences include appearances in China, Japan, Russia, UK, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. Jill Is proud to have worked with the United Nations Association in HIV/AIDS affected areas of South Africa. Jill currently travels across the country and around the globe teaching master classes and setting choreography. She is currently a faculty member of the Wild Dance Intensive and Power Pak Dance Camp. Jill teaches the Top Gun Audition master classes at Starpower National Competitions and co-hosts prestigious dance events like the World Dance Championships. Because Jill values guidance and education for young dancers, she also enjoys being co-director of the World Dance Pageant. Jill is thrilled to share her books in the “Are You Ready?” series. “Dance Competitions: Are You Ready?” is perfect for young competitive dancers, guiding them to have the best, most successful experience possible. “Dance: Are You Ready for the Next Step?” is a must read for all dancers that want to dance in college and beyond, preparing them to be successful in the professional dance world. Jill is proud to be a part of the dance community in TheatreArtLife. We are an international community of dancers and artists, united through our love and passion for dance!

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