Marni Manning - Artist

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Career Tangents

March 17, 2016

 

Your career might have been a straight shot from high school, to univeristy, to office cubicle. Or, like me, maybe it took you to the opposite side of the world, or working strange shifts in the middle of the night, or doing something that you swore you would never do (i.e. teaching.) Whatever your path has been, I know you would agree: whatever came before has shaped who you are today.

 

In my short time of being free from school, I've created quite the resume of hodge-podge jobs. It's clear that my job choices have been random, but I don't regret any of them for a minute.

 

Here are some of the jobs I've had and what they have taught me about being an artist now:

 

1. Barista = How much fun teamwork can be.

I worked this job in highschool and immediately after graduating. When you're making coffee for cranky public (because almost everyone is cranky before coffee) it's the most exciting, frustrating, monotous, enjoyable job. You come back home smelling like a beautiful dark roast, and you've had a few good belly laughs with coworkers. Sometimes the messups can make you sweat (and spilling a drink is terribly embbarassing) but if you're in it together, you always win.

 

2. Nanny = contentment.

This job was a combination of babysitting for an evening and actually spending most of the every day with little kids. Not only did I need patience to pretend like I was good at parenting, but it taught me to be thankul for the season I am in. With children, you can't ignore their needs or run over their play time with things that need to get done. You have to slow down and enjoy what they want to play, to look at each moment as a gift, and not take anything for granted.

 

3. Teacher = flexibility.

Teaching, just like life, can be planned, but it probably won't turn out as you expected. I've lost count how many times I've had a weird spontaneous situation that made me go with the flow. The wrong book, not enough students, too many students, various skill levels, class cancellation, substitute teaching, not enough material for the alloted time, making a mistake while teaching a grammar point. I've needed grace and the ability to keep my cool in an ever-changing environment.

 

4. Costume designer = resourcefulness.

Although my costume design career was limited to high scoool and university (I didn't continue in this field because I moved to South Korea instead) I felt I gained mountains of experience. Perhaps this is because theatre is constantly cycling through the seasons. You put up a show in a few weeks/months, and then you tear it all down. In the meantime, it's best to not break the bank when it comes to budget, since everything is going to go into storage or be scrapped anyway.

 

While I was working for a summer theatre up in the mountains of North Carolina, I had to come up with 25 WWI army uniforms that could be quick changed, with almost zero budget, and very few rental/fabric options. I almost went crazy! That is, until I was wandering around in the costume storage basement and stumbled upon the perfect bulk supply of denim! "But WWI uniforms weren't made of denim!" I know that - but the backside of the fabric was a beautiful heavyweight khaki - exactly what I was looking for.

 

5. Artist = humility

Yes, I have an Instagram, and a Facebook business page, and a website with a blog, and maybe this strikes you as a self-promoting shrine...but actually I want to share my art with people and make them happy. Creating art makes me happy and I hope that I can extend that joy to other people as well. It's a tough balance, trying to promote yourself while staying relatable. In my striving for perfection, I've found that people are repelled. I can't win anybody over by being the best, knowing I'm fantastic, or touting my abilities. Rather, when I am real and vulnerable, that's when people's walls come down. My deepest hope is to connect with others and help them find in themselves a joy for life, like art has given me.

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