The Art Coach Meets the Vocational Coach
I first met the Vocational Coach, Craig Nathanson, by chance. In 2007, I was sitting next to my supervisor searching the Internet for a class for her when, suddenly, Craig’s site appeared. We both noticed that it looked interesting but not what we were looking for so we moved on. However, I made a mental note to go back to it as I was increasingly unhappy at work.
I had been the first and only training coordinator for over 17 years at a large corporation that had changed hands three times. We did the computer work for a major California county. Increasingly, the county took over my duties and at the time of the Internet search the bureaucracy made the work extremely confining, limited in scope, without room to grow, give an opinion, make a decision, or have any say in what I was doing. I was very well liked and respected, but the job was pared down to only writing routine weekly, monthly, and yearly reports. Any hope of the creativity I once was allowed to realize when I first held the position was completely gone.
Looking back, I had been trained in the arts, held three degrees, had been an artist, an art teacher, lecturer, and a responsible program director at the oldest art center in the US working with major area museums. I also began to write and develop a reputation for my expertise. However, divorce and the need to earn a better salary to support three teenage boys made it necessary to get a real job and so I shifted from art education to computer education. I loved teaching computer classes, but after several years that company was closing its doors on training. One thing led to another and I found myself in the current position. In the 15th year, two years prior to meeting Craig, several artists I had written about had asked me to help them with their careers and my little after-work business, the Art Coach, began to take shape.
Hesitantly, I went back to Craig’s site and after considering the options, decided to sign up for six months. I needed to learn to be a better business woman because I saw that growing the business and realizing my passion, as Craig says, would be a dream come true.
Craig’s greatest help was giving me pointers and encouragement. In particular, how to keep records, how to grow the business now and in the future, and how to deal with the various types of artists. Timing really is everything, a month after I signed up with Craig, I was laid off and now I could really become The Art Coach.
The business is small and, although Craig has told me of ways how I can grow it, I like not having it be large. I am taking his suggestions, but at my own pace. Also, being the boss and not having to answer to anyone else, has brought out the best in me as well as some anxiety. I realize I can run a business, make good decisions, but, there are times, when I am anxious, particularly when I need to be strong with difficult or demanding people. All this is an advantage. It is giving me confidence when I clarify what is important to me and to the success of my artists and business.
Currently, I work with about 12 artists. In the time I worked with Craig, I have developed three tracks: 1) career guidance for beginning artists, meeting once or twice, 2) long term contracts where I help artists get their art exhibited in galleries and museums, and 3) short-term work for experienced artists to get their art exhibited in galleries and museums. I have also begun to network and work with artists in Italy, France, and England.
Artists do need a lot of help because there are very few people who do what I do. Artists need guidance. Working alone in their studios, they need someone mature, realistic, and experienced. The goal of the Vocational Coach is to encourage people to realize their PASSIONS . As the Art Coach I help artists exhibit their passions, their art. It is not an easy assignment and, like being an artist, it can be difficult, even lonely. But along with writing, it is very satisfy. No two days are alike; no two artists are alike. The variety and its challenge is invigorating.
What can we learn from Roberta?
When we take the risk and put our whole selves into our passion, magical things happen!