Creative partnerships can take the place of other resources like time and money, and is more than worth its weight in gold.
Artists Starving for Money, Time and Companionship
One of the oddities about being an artistic soul (especially one starting out with little prospects and less money), is slogging through all of the knowledge acquisition, the floundering, and frankly the solitary loneliness of being holed up when we make our art, It is a necessity many times, because devotion to art takes a single-minded concentration when one is in pursuance of personal excellence.
This can be especially daunting if you are short on both time and the funds to get a quality education. If one doesn't have money, if you self educates, it can help make up for the lack of money, but it takes longer to learn. If you have money, but little time, quality coaching and education can give targeted education to efficiently maximize the time you do have. However, if one has neither time nor funds, then the situation is compounded with the fact as artists we are often sequestered like medieval monks in a monastery.
That is the situation I have been in (and truthfully can still be in). But, I have found a few workarounds that have helped me. Maybe they can help you, too.
So how does one get voice over education with little time? Well, first of all, one has to sneak it in bits and pieces. Study and experiment when you can, take notes and send yourself follow up emails or notes, record yourself in the car, learn accents through tutorials, characters, business, etc. Kindle books are incredibly cheap. I listen to low cost or free alternatives like Udemy, Youtube and acting workshops in the car also, as I commute 90-120 minutes a day. Instead of raging at opposing traffic, I work on my French accent, oui?
And yet, this type of self- education has limits. Not just as artists, but human beings, we crave genuine interaction with others. The creativity interaction sparks is interesting and exhilarating. The is especially true when money and time are short, we are slogging through day jobs, keeping our friend and familial relationships afloat and just general living, creative partnerships can keep the spark alive when otherwise it might fizzle.
My Own Creative Partnership Story
Here is how I'm doing it, and it's helping keep the creative fuel going for me and my friends. One of the reasons I want to use my own example is that while the movers and shakers of industry have wonderful stories, while inspiring, they still can seem inaccessible to us boots on the ground folk.
The tale I am going to spin is of a much more humble origin, and didn't take more than time, patience, and a few caring people who wanted to make something fun. A couple years ago, I grew frustrated with the fact that I wanted to learn more about the craft of voice over, but it could cost so much money to get the mentoring I desired, sometimes hundreds of dollars an hour for professional coaching.
Now don't get me wrong. I have actually been able to save for a few sessions like this (or managed to get in on discount with group meetings), and they are well worth it. They are inspiring, and they teach and also confirm and validate such an artistic path is feasible. Well worth it, if you can afford it. Most of the time I (and my friends) can't.
So I had a conundrum. I had no funds, but I couldn't wait around and sit on my hands hoping for lightning to strike me rich.
As a result, I started the SF-Bay-Voice-Acting-Meetup, for anyone interested in joining. ;-) Its purpose is an affordable alternative (and by affordable I mean free) to paying an arm and a leg for educating oneself in voice-over. We meet online once a week 3 times a month on weekends, so we can all stay at home and not slog through traffic or pay fees. And 1x a month we meet in a community center that allows us to use a room for free. Granted, our group is a mixed bag of professionals, semi-pro, enthusiasts, and beginners who learn via books, videos, trial and error from what advice we can get from full-time voice over professionals that we us cobble together voice over and acting coaches, etc.
The important thing is though, because of this group, we continue, we grow, we forge on.
Secret Super Skilled Artists
One of the endearing traits of artists is that we are an intense subspecies of human, most of us tend to dabble in other endeavors, sometimes even going into deep dives and getting skills one would not normally expect.
Still, it's difficult to be good at every artistic and business skill, however. That's why professional business people hire contractors and consultants after all. The cash strapped artist doesn't have such recourse, However, as mentioned above, we often have secret skills.
So together, with our Powers Combined, we became CAPTAIN CREATIVE!!! The Power was OURS!!!
Ok, I go over the top sometimes. Many times. Most of the Time.
My point, however, is this:
If you can find and cultivate a like-minded group of people, and explore your creative and mundane passions, you can unlock great potential from each other.
Meanwhile, back at the Meetup....
So let's progress the story in more detail.
After a time of many Meetups and dinners, and nights of coaching each other and listening and learning about script analysis, characterization, narration, e-learning, and each other's spouses, hopes and dreams, I sensed among myself and others that we should be doing more beyond just acting practice. We were topping off in some ways. After all, where do we go from there? So I created a series of meetings where we discussed goals and just made ourselves available for brainstorming.
Shortly thereafter from these meetings, one of the co-leads of my Meetup group (Ashley Hansen-Benson, an excellent voice-over artist, if I do say so myself) came upon an interesting idea of having live comic book narration, with comic slides and music and fx. It was like combing radio theatre with comic book geekiness. And out of this, VoXomics was born.
It took off in our collective minds like crazy, like we were starving for it. At last, using our skills for collaboration and seeing people's smiling faces! What could get better? Next thing we know, this tiny project had a professional website and software developed (1 of our group is a social media maven, the other a software engineer), as well as a professional logo (from yours truly), and sales and direction (from Ashley). It sprung up quickly, more quickly than one person could possibly do, and with more of a long burning fervor, as we quietly held each other accountable and energized for the next step.
Through all of this, we've learned skills we didn't have before, through each other and also through experimentation. Of marketing and making relationships with each other and our clients. Of teamwork. Of sheer grit and learning that someone saying "no" is ok. Of learning someone else might say "yes". We already had won in the creative lottery before one person took a seat at one of our live shows.
Among this group. I am promoting the idea we each, in turn help each other likewise in other endeavors in the future, Together, despite our handicaps, we might still yet make this passion of art and business and voice work for all of us. When we can draw upon the skills of others and they can draw upon you, suddenly time and money are not such a barrier to fulfilling one's creative destiny.
I am finding the old adage that the sum is greater than its parts holds quite true. I hope that with your creative endeavors, you will do likewise and see how working with others can enrich your creativity as well.