by | April 13, 2009

Recently, in my pursuit of learning more about the art of watercolor, I came across series of articles written by an Australian artist Tony Smibert, in the journal International Artist. It introduced a five part series about the
“why” of the career perspective
“how” of learning the skills of becoming a professional artist
“what” of art market and business perspective
“what and why” of balancing the demands of family and career
“what” of practical elements critical to success

I was compelled by the holistic approach and by the parallel between graduate learners and aspiring artists preparing for a new career, or building on existing one – no matter what the age.

To become successful professional artist, it is assumed that one not only masters the skills and the techniques to produce consistently quality paintings, but manifests equal knowledge about art markets, and the business aspects of being able to sell one’s art. In other words to be an excellent watercolorist is not sufficient. Frequently, and much against their inclinations to stay in their studio and paint, artists need to know about galleries, corporate opportunities, offer workshops, pricing, participate in juried art shows and decisively advocate for their creations.

Similarly, learners who acquire expertise through studies and research and ultimately gain their hard-earned degree credentials have to become very astute to assure their future career positions. In today’s economy degree credentials are necessary but in themselves they rarely guarantee anything, unless they are skillfully leveraged and backed by the integrity, experience and persuasiveness of the learner. Much like artists, graduate learners need to be informed about the “business” of professional opportunities in their area of interest. They may well ask themselves:

– Have I done my homework in finding out about the specific needs of the market I am entering? What else do I need to know?
– Whom do I know that I can ask to do an informational interview?
– What professional organization can I join?
– What networking can I do?
– Who are my job application reference contacts and what do they need to know about me?
– What is the possibility of publishing an article based on my dissertation/master/s research?
– What are the salaries of similarly employed professionals?
– What are the courses offered at the institution I am applying?
– Given the opportunity, what course could I create that is not offered?
– What are some other ways that I can capitalize on the expertise gain through doing dissertation?
– Do I need to revise my resume or curriculum vitae?
– What are my interviewing skills?
In conclusion, I am inviting comments, questions, concerns…

Dr. Vera


  1. Cynthia Lahti says:

    Not only is this great advice…it also supports the scholar-practitioner model beautifully. I was once in a hiring manager position in a large software company. As a desirable employer, we received thousands of resumes, calls for informational interviews, etc.

    When everyone applying has advanced degrees…neither the degree nor the college/university is much of a differentiator. What clearly set people apart was their ability to use their knowledge.

    Today, I ask my clients a simple question: What experience have you had which best exemplifies your ability to bridge what you know with what you can do?

    Regards, Cynthia

  2. Vera Kovacovic says:

    Dear Cynthia,

    Thank you for your response and I am glad that you found it valuable. I find useful to challenge one’s views by looking at what strategies we can learn from other professional areas.


    Dr. Vera

  3. Vera Kovacovic says:

    Thank you.

    Dr. Vera

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