A brief guide to tapping your
contact list to find work

Damien Stuart Wood
Art Heroes Contributor + Self-Proclaimed
Wannabe Art Guy at the end of his rope
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It is entirely possible, maybe even probable, that no matter how good you are at the thing you do or how long you've done it for, you'll one day find yourself in need of gainful employment.

It'll more than likely be through no fault of your own, due to some
event you couldn't have done a single thing differently to steer
your ship clear of.

After all, projects end or get cancelled.

Studios shut down or get bought out.

Industries go through rocky stretches.
how to pose a character in zbrush

Out of work. Looking for work. This is where having a solid supply of names and numbers for people at least theoretically on speaking terms with you comes in handy.

It's a thing you should start developing on Day 1 and never stop.

Whether anyone on your contact list will take your calls is on you.

Criteria to consider beyond "Am I at all likeable?" and other basics:

Can you function within a team setting?

Can you be trusted to work effectively alone?

Do you take criticism well?

Are you generally not a jackass on social?

Do you interview well?

Assuming you don't have a track record of burning bridges, taking out the towns they lead to and scorching entire countrysides, here are a few more things you can do to ensure your contact list is crisp:

Stay in touch

Don't be the person who only reaches out when they need something. It'll get spotted pretty quickly, and it won't much matter how nice a guy or gal you are if the person you're calling knows they're going to be put upon as soon as they see your name on their phone.

This doesn't mean you have to be besties with all the people, all the time. No one has time for that any more than they have patience to do favors every five seconds.

It just means if you're in the area and have the time, maybe drop a text to see if a person would like to grab a coffee or lunch, or if a gig comes up and you don't need it, but happen to know a person who would be a great fit, maybe send the details their way.

Return the favor

As a general rule, contact lists should work both ways. If someone reaches out to you, and you have the ability to lend a hand, do it — it could be you'll end up calling that very person one day for the same reason.

You'll always start with the folks you figure owe you one.

And hey, that's OK. Don't kid yourself. When someone helps you out, it's on their mind, too — one day, they might be in the same position, and if they can help you now, you might feel more compelled to help them later.

Keep expectations low

That said, don't expect someone to be able to make minor miracles happen just because you're in a bind — maybe the person you're calling is in a position to float some work your way, or point you in the direction of someone who can, but also maybe not.

Sometimes, there's just no work to be had. Don't take it as a slight or hold it against the person who has to tell you they can't help you — they probably didn't dig saying it any more than you did hearing it.

Sometimes, working in a creative field entails having to ride out the rough patches and find other means of making ends meet — doesn't mean you don't get to be a professional artist again when said rough patch is over.

Be good,


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