As I head into my second year as a full-time, working voice actor, I've realized that years of gainful self-employment have given me a HUGE edge in my new vocation. Seemingly unrelated experiences (the little things) culminated in stockpiles of knowledge that directly relate to voiceover. Prove it?
• work on a student film = learn the value of recording room noise for continuity
• stage manage anything = know the impact of being prompt and prepared
• design press kits for a major auto manufacturer = understand your client's image and industry
• formulate recruitment strategies = deliver what your audience wants and needs
• remind audience members to turn off their cell phones = you've got a career in live announcing!
• lead an arts organization... that's a whole separate blog post. Endless lessons in that one.
In December of 2013 I closed Arts in Action, my production-company-turned-graphic-design-firm which I opened in 1990. I had been whittling down my design clients for the past seven years, turning them over to other designers and excusing myself from the industry. My last three clients had been with me, collectively, for forty-nine years. But it wasn't a difficult decision.
What was difficult was archiving my past so that I can move beyond it. Since I first started working in the performing arts, I had accumulated 245 production credits on my resume. One hundred and sixty of those were between 1990 and 2000. Once I sat down and documented it, I was floored by the volume of incredible talent for whom and with whom I have had the honor of working; dance companies, musicians, theatre ensembles... amazing artists all.
As challenging as culling my production work was, documenting my design career is more daunting - but really only for psychological reasons. It was a career I fell into, not a career for which I had training. A temp job helping out a friend run a print shop led immediately to a full-time position as a graphic designer at the American Red Cross. It also helped that I had a small Photoshop/Quark addiction. That one job started an entire, lucrative 23-year career.
The edge it all gave me, quite simply, is maturity:
... the ability to enjoy an audition because I'm clear who I am and what I bring,
... the ease of doing good work because I understand what my clients need, and
... the clarity of vision to put my changing industry into perspective.
The curation of my past work is finished... and new creation has begun.