In honor of Women’s History Month, we surveyed savvy working professional women across the fine arts, design, and creative fields to learn about their career highlights. Below we contextualize the wide range of reflections from the women leading the way across art and culture, creative services and technology. From emerging professionals to established, seasoned trailblazers, these pros share insights into their creative process, the struggles they have gone to see their dreams through to reality and the moments that have made it all worth it.
Career Highlights Spanning Creative Disciplines
Influential women lead the way across creative fields, from creative technology and entrepreneurship to museum and gallery directors. Women particularly excel across Education: from filling almost 1 in 3 University President posts to exceeding men in degrees held from the undergraduate to the Ph.D. level as of 2012, women have shown that overcoming adversity is as easy as refusing to wait for a glass ceiling to be removed! Creative fields also allow women the bandwidth to assert themselves: for starters, women participate in fine art disciplines at almost twice the rate as their male counterparts. How can women continue to claim this diversity and achievement for themselves across the creative field? What have women working in disparate creative environments found to resonate with them as creative professionals? What career highlights have made the continued struggle worth the effort? After all, if actress and writer Lena Waithe’s assertion “the only way you see change is by helping to create it” is true, can we see those receipts? What evidence can women share, what insights from their own experience, can we see to remain inspired in our own efforts to leave our mark across creative industries?
Curator Pamela Jean Tinnen reflects on the public impact made by her role as Director, Lead Curator coordinating art exhibits for NYU’s Kimmel galleries exhibits. “I genuinely LOVE creating exhibitions and being able to work with artists and other curators to present ideas and art to the public,” notes Tinnen. “We start with just an idea: one artist’s work or several in dialogue, and we build upon that to create meaning while presenting that meaning to brand new audiences; to make visual out of what was once just a thought is incredibly satisfying and exciting.” In explaining her interactions with others, Tinnen notes that it’s not often that others feel so enthusiastically about their vocation. This gives her continued inspiration. “When people ask about my work, and I’ve replied how much I love what I do, I’ve often heard the response, “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that about their job before.” “
Shifting from art curating to creative entrepreneurship, Artrepreneur‘s own CEO and Founder Grace Cho notes of the combined professional and personal impact she has witnessed from her hard work in founding the company. When reflecting on some career highlights, Cho proudly cites conversations with artists using Artrepreneur to point out the satisfaction she gains from seeing artists who feel empowered by becoming frequent users of the platform. “Our mission to help creatives succeed in the business of art of design through concrete tools and resources really resonates.” Cho cites the need for solutions that artists can use to better run their business and expand their audience base. “With so many friends and family in the arts, and understanding the challenges of how difficult it is to build a creative career, I wanted to build a business to help visual artists succeed. This role also allows me the opportunity to apply all the skills I learned in my corporate career to a life passion, which is to work in the creative industry. I feel very fortunate to be able to support artists and designers with a focus on education and giving back.”
Serving Others and Achieving Milestones
Many women leading the way in the creative sector remark on the perceived impact their work has made in the sense that it empowered others to take matters into their own hands. Whether it is artists finding new avenues of sales, gaining greater exposure and expanding networks for creatives, and organizations featuring ways in which we can better impact our communities, working toward the greater good is a recurrent theme that women leaders return to as a career highlight of their professional careers. From fashion to branding, consumer goods to fine art, women leaders follow their dreams while continuing to ensure that their impact feeds into a greater good. CEO/Founder of cosmetics brand Glossier, Emily Weiss, notes that her leadership role requires her to continually think outside of her own needs and goals. “Managing is not the right word [for what I do]. My job is to empower all these incredibly ambitious, powerful people to do what we brought them in to do. We’re a sum of all parts — we win because of everyone there.” When creativity and community collide, women leaders see it as their mission to integrate these two elements into a holistic and positive conclusion. Where women lead, entire communities come together to witness and benefit from this success.
From creating new pathways toward inspired solutions to featuring artists’ work in a new light, creative women professionals have ample opportunity to reflect on career highlights. The meaningful impact that creative ventures exert on the wider creative field cannot be underestimated, and to forge ahead despite continued gender pay gaps and a persistent lack of representation in the higher levels of government and Fortune 500 companies shows the resiliency and fearlessness of women in it to make a difference, both for themselves and, more importantly, for others. Women leading the creative industry persist still: fighting uphill battles to make their dreams come true, refusing to take no for an answer and driving new possibilities for the wider creative community.
Who are some women working in the creative field who inspire you? Attend any good seminars, workshops or panels featuring women we should know about? Add their names – and your own reflections and career highlights – in the comments below!