Sticking to the portfolio

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Experienced freelancers will be aware and comfortable with the notion of having a “portfolio” career. The term is a euphemism for having one’s fingers in several pies. Many of us do this basically to survive, but there are moments when we can choose to narrow the focus of our range of activities.

One factor to be considered is that some of us feel under pressure to turn ourselves into commodities, to fit in with set categories within the arts business at large.

Those who feel the urge to make new work might also want to participate in projects where we are called upon to function as interpreters. The gatekeepers – such as agents, managers, producers and arts administrators are not always comfortable dealing with our needs and wants.

This means that the portfolio arts worker tends to have to take charge of a lot more duties, to maintain a presence on the scene. Energy is spent on explaining to colleagues about choices and decisions, so the workload builds up, way beyond the tasks set before those who “keep things simple”.

With time and experience, does the portfolio artist go through a metamorphosis that leads to the spreading of beautiful wings? Everyone has their own story to tell.