I love project’s. I love the idea of a new story, a new play, a new film, a new venue coming alive. Artistic projects promise an opportunity to give voice to a group of people, an experience, or a world that has yet to be made known. Whether working on my own products, co-producing another artist’s work, or working as an actress on a production, I have found it critical to evaluate each opportunity so that I feel confident when I say yes. Often, however, we are so busy creating (as we should) that we do not always take the time to establish criteria for the projects that we work on.  I created this series of articles: How to Select Your Next Project because I believe that the difference between a successful artist career and an unfulfilled one lies in the ability to decide what to work on. 

First, what is a project? A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Just to clarify, on this blog when I discuss a “project”, I am distinguishing from your own “products”. When I am discussing “project selection” I am simply acknowledging that you are not the producer of the final work and that you have a start and an end date. When I discuss “product selection” I am discussing a product that you own and produce and that will be in your artistic portfolio for the rest of your life. Project’s are both time-bound and unique. A project has a definite beginning and end in time, a defined scope and resources and it is unique, in that it is not a routine operation, but rather it is a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal.

As an artist you will have many exciting opportunities to create new and fresh project’s. This makes our position in society special. We get to meet and collaborate with producers from unique backgrounds. This phenomenon is both exciting and frustrating. It is exciting because choosing the right project, the project that receives wide success, could transform a your career entirely. On the other hand, it is frustrating because there are many opportunities and we know the right one could change our lives. So, time and time again, after the tour is over, after the play closes, after the concert, we are left with the question: what should I do next?

Think of project evaluation the same way that you would evaluate a job offer. If you were considering working at your favorite fashion boutique, then you would most likely consider the following: the employer, the department where you would be working and the company’s culture. Project evaluation for artists can be approached in a similar way and I’ll show you how. In this article, I share three things to evaluate when you start the project selection process: the producer (“employer”), the project itself (the department) and the production environment (company culture).

2. PROJECT EVALUATION

How does this project fit into your artistic portfolio?

The next step is to evaluate the project itself against your artistic vision. I know producers who have produced projects that resonated with me and those same producers have also made work that, although it was important, did not speak to me. What I’m simply saying is that sharing a vision and values with a producer does not necessarily mean that you will want to be a part of everything that they produce. Remember, your goal is to work on projects that align with your artistic vision. So, whenever an opportunity presents itself compare the project with your artistic needs. Think about it: if a project aligns with your artistic vision, then you will work on it with passion and vigor. It won’t feel like work at all. You may not always be able to pursue projects that are exactly aligned with your artistic vision but the first step is to know whether it aligns or not.  Therefore, when selecting a project, the second step in the project selection process, is to take the time to think about how the opportunity will move you closer to the artistic vision that you started with. Answer these questions about the project to evaluate a project:

  1. What is your role? (The more you are given the space to display your talents the better.)
  2. Does your role in this project align with your artistic vision? How?
  3. Will this project bring you closer to your vision? In what ways?
  4. Who is the audience for this project? Is this an audience that you want to reach?
  5. Who will you impact through this project? Are these communities that you represent?
  6. How does this project align with your values? In what ways does it reflect your values?
  7. How does this project align with your personal brand?

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