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Land a Creative Career Without Starving

Are you looking for a creative career that won’t make you a starving artist? We talked to several people who made successful careers out of their artistic and creative abilities.

Home Stager

Have you ever been shopping for a new apartment or house and walked in on a mess of mismatched furniture and tacky décor? Even if the home’s “bones” are great, it’s hard to look past the questionable tastes of the current resident. This is where a home stager comes in.

Home stagers are interior design professionals who help prepare a home to go on the market. We talked to Kathleen Smithnosky and her partner, Ellen Diamond, of Sensational Surroundings. Both Smithnosky and Diamond have certifications in Residential Design from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

“Selling a home has become more competitive than ever and that challenge opens up an ideal career for us interior design professionals who can use many of our skills in home staging,” says Smithnosky. She explains that her and Diamond are often hired to help de-clutter, rearrange, and organize homes that are going on the market. Often times, these are model homes and they have the freedom to select new furnishings and décor. Sometimes, the client may have a smaller budget that doesn’t allow for all new furniture, so they have to find creative ways to utilize what the client already owns to make the home look more attractive.

Forensic Artist

Do you want to use your artistic skills and help fight crime at the same time? That’s what Detective Trooper Sarah Krebs does as part of the Michigan State Police force.  She is a forensic artist who uses her drawing and imaging skills to produce life-like renderings of suspects and victims in various criminal investigations.

Forensic artists often sketch faces of suspects, and age progression drawings from the details of an investigation, but that’s not all. “We help with courtroom testimony by creating trial displays and identify the dead using their skeletal remains to rebuild their faces,” says Krebs. Forensic artists like Krebs use a variety of mediums, such as pencil, charcoal, pastels, even clay for creating models, and programs like Adobe Photoshop for digital imaging.

Being able to use your artistic skills to help solve crimes can be very rewarding. However, Krebs warns, it’s not for everyone. “It takes much patience, interview skills, and a strong stomach to make it as a successful forensic artist.”

Professional Organizer

You’ve probably seen Peter Walsh on TLC’s Clean Sweep and his frequent appearances on The Oprah Show. He’s a professional organizer who helps people with clutter reorganize their lives. Whether he’s organizing a messy home or helping someone weed the chaos out of their life, he constantly has to call on creative solutions.

“Basically I work with anyone whose relationship with their stuff has gotten out of control and, by helping them re-evaluate their relationship to what they own, help them get their life back in order,” says Walsh. Some people just need a little help cleaning up and getting rid of things they don’t need, while others have a deep psychological attachment to their belongings that requires more personal intervention.

“It’s a challenging and exciting job because it calls on so many levels of creativity – the ability to quickly assess what will work in a space; the insight to ask the right questions to get to the root of what is really going on; the patience to understand that conflict and anger is usually about fear; and the confidence to believe that helping a person see that less really can be more will transform their life,” says Walsh.

Event Planner

Tasha Bracken of Simple Details Events is one of the best-known event planners in New England. Her events have been featured in Grace Ormond Wedding Style, Brides Magazine, and many other publications. Planning weddings, corporate events, and other elegant affairs requires attention to detail, precise planning, and major creativity.

Bracken starts the event planning process by finding out what the client wants. She has clients fill out a survey in order to get a feel for the kind of look and experience they want to have. From there, she is able to create the perfect team of vendors (like caterers, musicians, etc.) for the event.

 “Once we’ve met a client and discussed the event, our team brainstorms ideas and come up with our plan. We then develop a floor plan, floral design and other elements that bring together the overall vibe,” says Bracken.

Planning events requires the ability to find creative ways to bring together all the important elements of an event and make it feel cohesive and seamless. Event planners like Bracken also get the opportunity to flex their design muscles by creating an aesthetic experience that matches the client’s vision.

Book Illustrator

If you are an artist, chances are that you’ve been creative and artistic since you were a child. Wouldn’t it be rewarding to share that talent with other children? That’s exactly what Susan Castriota did when she decided to start a new career as a children’s book illustrator.

Castriota, who graduated from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, is writing and illustrating a children’s book series called Wilson’s Wondrous Tails. She uses drawing and painting mediums like colored pencil, watercolors, and acrylics to help tell her stories.

As a book illustrator, Castriota utilizes her creativity in order to represent certain situations and ideas through imagery. She has to keep in mind the bright colors and patterns that help grab the attention of young readers. She also must convey the moral lessons of her stories through her drawings and paintings.