How to be a creative in the country

How to be a creative in the country

By Hazel Davis 07/02/11

If you’re a recent graduate with an eye on a career in the arts, chances are that you’re thinking of living in London or one of the UK’s many other buzzing cities. But, what if you want to live your artistic dream in a picturesque hillside hamlet? Countryside-based journalist Hazel Davis tells you how to do it...

Networking, networking and more networking

There’s no point rocking up in a small town and complaining that you don’t know anyone. Go out and find them. Twenty-two-year-old Marcus Costello works as a graphic design marketing executive for the company Wright Angle Marketing in a small West Yorkshire village.

He says, “I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of creative companies outside the big cities offering amazing services.” Costello thinks networks in the country can be stronger than you might think: “Last week I went to a networking event and it was great to see all the different types of creative companies around here.”


If the groups aren’t there, set them up yourself

Sarah Watts is a freelance clarinettist based between the remote Inner Hebridean island of Raasay (near Skye) and the small village of Gotham in Nottinghamshire. Raasay is a ferry ride and a five-to-six hour drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Watts thinks her clarinet workshops have helped her integrate into the local community and make creative friends. She makes the events happen herself and is currently working with the Isle of Harris-based composer Piers Hellawell on a new piece for bass clarinet and piano, to be performed on the island in April.


Travel share/house swap

Much as it would be lovely to have the benefits of rural living with all of the trappings of city-slickery, it’s just not always possible. Whether you’re a writer, musician, designer or illustrator, sometimes you’re just going to have to travel to where the work is. If you live in the sticks, this can be costly.

Why not try and get together with potential car-sharers and organise meetings in cities at the same time? Booking train tickets well in advance and making meetings work around you is another way to save money. If you live in a peaceful location, why not offer to house-swap for a week with a friend in a big city who needs a break, so that you can really crack some new contacts?


Use your location to your advantage

Where he’s based, says Costello, “has great views across the valley and really helps the creative juices flow.” That’s got to be better than being stuck in a central London high-rise overlooking the sound and smell of traffic, right?

Moreover, says writer Heidi Scrimgeour, who lives in rural Northern Ireland, “I’m the only freelance writer I know of for miles around and word travels fast in small towns so people come to me when they need something I can help with. It's effortless. That would never have happened in London.”

Additionally, if people expect you to provide a lesser service based on your location, says Costello, “you can blow them away”, which is always satisfying.


Foster a healthy online presence

If your work enables you to spend some time on the web, make the most of it.

Writers, designers and musicians all need to market themselves online. Whether you live in the back of beyond makes no difference to how you appear on the web. In fact, you can even keep that side of things quiet, if you need to…


Read more How to articles.

Are you a country creative? Tell us your top tips, in the comments below...

Image courtesy of MarilynJane on Flickr.

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