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Artswork recently hosted creative careers talk at What’s Next Southampton event

Date Created: 24th Jul 2023

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What’s Next Southampton was a lively cultural event held in Southampton, by an energetic team of young Cultural Connectors from Southampton University. In Partnership with MAST and the John Hansard Gallery, they celebrated arts and culture in Southampton by hosting a range of workshops with local organisations including Artswork, Zoielogic and African Activities, who made a boom with their African drumming workshops.

In the lively Guildhall Square, Artswork set up an exciting consultation to explore what young people consider to be a quality creative experience, and had an interactive “Reach for the Stars” creative careers quiz, intriguingly presented as a constellation.

Artswork attended the event to support Cultural Connector, Damian, who’s goal was to show young people the breadth of creative careers in Southampton. In MAST’s trendy café, Artswork hosted “The Future is Creative”, a panel of five professionals who work in creative sectors, together they illuminated the pathways young people can take to a creative career and discussed how their own journeys led them to where they are today.

Jobs in the creative sector are considered highly competitive, so a prevalent topic of conversation across the panel was seeking and saying yes to opportunities. CEO at Artswork, Louise Govier, encouraged young people to seek out mentorship and take opportunities. She said, “The most important thing you can be doing is to be curious and see what’s out there”. Louise also discussed strategy in her career choices, remembering that early on, she had felt that she had failed to strategise, but on reflection she had “learnt something, seen an opportunity and taken it forward[…]That’s hugely strategic”. The panel members found that strategy within the creative industry looks very different to other sectors because regimented planning can be limiting in an industry that relies on inspiration and creative flow.

(Left to right) Artswork’s CEO Louise Govier, Shogun’s CEO James Gayle, ZoieLogic’s Senior Producer Lizanne Smith Head, SoCo’s Director Matt Salvage and Artful Scribe’s Director Matt West on the Artswork “The Future is Creative” careers panel.

Also on the panel was Lizanne, head of engagement at Zoielogic, a dance organisation that specialises in engaging men and boys with the Arts. In response to an audience question, Lizanne said that you should say yes to opportunities that come your way, because “the unknowns always stay with you, so it’s worth giving it a go”, however “getting to the point where you can say no is really empowering” as this is an indicator that you are successful and content with your work. Lizanne discussed how she didn’t even know a role like hers existed whilst she was studying, but she took an internship with ZoieLogic and continued to volunteer there because it offered her immense job satisfaction.

Matt Salvage, director at SoCo Music Project, said “my journey has not been strategic at all” and he puts his success down to “not saying no to anything!”, Matt reminded the audience that one opportunity can lead to another, and if you are generous with your time, it will pay off in the future. Matt finds job satisfaction from watching children finding enjoyment in music whilst they are struggling to engage with education find enjoyment in music. Throughout his career, he has been incredibly ambitious, and talked about a “motivation matrix” technique he uses which maps aspiration against your ability to make it a reality.

Having worked at the docks for the earlier years of his career, Matt West , Director at Artful Scribe, found it an important experience to “understand what [he] didn’t want to do”. The panel members discussed risk taking and having given up his well paying job at the docks, he wondered “how do you make money as a story teller?”. Matt weighed up the initial decrease in his salary with his newfound job satisfaction, and rationalised the risk he took, because he had the option of returning to his previous role. Matt gave young people the powerful advice that “If there’s no door, make one” and the panel members agreed that they had all made space for themselves in the creative industry in some way, whether they had adapted their roles to suit them, or built their own company from the ground up.

James, founder and CEO of Shogun, a social media agency, inspired the audience when he said “it is the audacity to be in the room that gets you there” which was an exciting reminder to take risks and push the boundaries of where your role can take you. To be successful in the creative industry “let your creativity lead”, James puts his success down to his idea generation. James “had no clue why these big companies weren’t taking social media seriously” and was a pioneer in his use of social media, eventually setting up his own company in 2020.

The advice, ideas and opinions raised by the panel guests were inspiring and encouraging for young people. Pathways into creative careers often feel shrouded in mystery or have intimidating barriers to entry, however these professionals demonstrated how you can unconventionally enter a creative career by pursuing your interests, having a niche, and actively seeking opportunities. The networking portion of the panel talk was facilitated by Artswork’s apprentices Leanne and Lucy, who are on their own journeys into a fruitful creative career.

Lucy reflected on what she learnt from the day “What was said by the wonderful panel guests reassured me that I made the right decision to take this apprenticeship opportunity, I am no longer worried about what I will go onto after my apprenticeship, because what I want when I finish may be completely different from what I want right now, and I have learnt that careers are rarely linear, and opportunities will not make you lose progress, because you will learn something valuable and as Lizanne said, there is real value in finding out what you don’t want to do”.

Leanne left the panel feeling completely inspired “When I heard about the career paths the panel members took, especially Matt from Artful Scribe’s risky career progression when he left his stable job and became the CEO of a writer development agency, I felt complete reassurance in my current career path. Coming from University, to a factory role, and now jumping back into a creative career, I feel motivated to continue pursuing a job in the creative industry, allowing myself to pick the opportunities that are right for ME! James at Shogun left me feeling particularly encouraged when he said to be as ruthless as possible, to not give up on your dreams and most importantly be brave.”

Written by apprentice Lucy Corke.

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