I have a deep passion for projects. The prospect of creating a new story, play, film, or venue excites me. Artistic projects offer a chance to give voice to people, experiences, or worlds that have yet to be explored. Whether I’m working on my own projects, collaborating with other artists, or acting in a production, it’s crucial for me to evaluate each opportunity to ensure confidence in my decision to participate. Unfortunately, amidst our busy creative endeavors, we often neglect to establish criteria for the projects we engage in. That’s why I created this series of articles, titled “How to Select Your Next Project.” I firmly believe that the ability to choose what projects to work on is what sets apart a successful artist career from an unfulfilled one.
To begin, let’s define what a project is. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. In this blog, when I refer to a “project,” I’m distinguishing it from your own “products.” When discussing “project selection,” I’m acknowledging that you’re not the producer of the final work and that it has a start and end date. On the other hand, “product selection” refers to a product that you own, produce, and will be a permanent part of your artistic portfolio. Projects are both time-bound and unique, with a clear beginning and end, a defined scope and resources, and a specific set of operations aimed at achieving a particular goal.
As an artist, you’ll encounter numerous exciting opportunities to engage in new and fresh projects. Our position in society is unique because we get to meet and collaborate with producers from diverse backgrounds. This phenomenon is both exhilarating and frustrating. It’s exciting because choosing the right project, one that achieves widespread success, has the potential to transform your career. Conversely, it’s frustrating because there are countless opportunities, and we understand that the right one could change our lives. So, time and time again, after the tour ends, the play closes, or the concert concludes, we’re left with the question: what should I do next?
Consider project evaluation in the same way you evaluate a job offer. If you were considering working at your favorite fashion boutique, you’d likely take into account the employer, the department you’d be working in, and the company’s culture. Similarly, artists can approach project evaluation in a similar manner, and I’ll show you how. In this article, I’ll discuss three things to evaluate when embarking on the project selection process: the producer (or “employer”), the project itself (like the department), and the production environment (akin to company culture).
1. PRODUCER EVALUATION
First, assess the producer of the project.
The first question to ask when deciding whether to work on a project is: who is producing this work? Does this opportunity allow you to establish a track record with a producer you want an ongoing relationship with? The producer is the individual or organization that will determine the final details of the product, such as price, market, packaging, branding, and more. The final product will become part of your artist profile and significantly influence how you are perceived professionally. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the quality of the final project. Here are some questions to help you evaluate the producer:
- Does the producer have a portfolio of work that resonates with me?
- Does this producer share my vision?
- Does this producer share my values?
- Have I worked with this producer before? If so, was it a positive experience?
- How do others describe their experience working with this producer?
- Can I see myself working with this producer 20 years from now?
Your focus during this evaluation is to ensure that the producer’s values and vision align with your own. In short, is this producer part of the community of people whose work you believe in and want to be a part of?
Note: If a project provides an excellent opportunity for exposure but you don’t wish to continue working with the producer in the future (which might be the case depending on your experience in the field), consider how this project will position you to connect with the projects and people you aspire to be aligned with.