Cromie lectures on how to make it as an artist

By Mackenize Cutruzzula
Arts & Entertainment Assistant

With the holidays around the corner, the dreaded wave of questions from family around the dinner table is nearing. From “what’s your major?” to “what are you going to do with that?”, the holiday season can seem endless. But College alumnus Aaron Cromie had the answers when he took part in the Brown Bag series on Friday, Oct. 31.

Cromie’s speech was centered on the theme “Making Your Life as an Artist.” Having graduated from the College 20 years ago, specializing in the school of Arts and Communication, Cromie has since made a living working in the theatre industry as a director, actor, set builder and puppet maker.   

Cromie answered those dreaded questions from his own relatives on how he was possibly going to make it as an artist, and he has a solution for collegiate artists, as well. His plan for artists is to practice sustainability in all aspects of their everyday lives.

“Thank you for choosing this life which can be hard and hard to explain,” Cromie said.

Further explaining the important role artists play in culture, he believes many people compare being an artist to having a hobby. His idea of being an artist is likened to that of a scientist, where the artistic process follows in the same order as the scientific method. Cromie believes an artist’s job is to constantly ask questions about culture and how it changes. If artists practice sustainability, they will be able to complete their mission as artists and reshape the world.

“Art effects everything — education, politics and science — through asking rigorous, reckless questions,” Cromie said to the audience.

By working with Artists U., a program designed to help actors, Cromie has broadened this view of sustainability as the program assists older actors who have hit a peak point in their careers and don’t know how to continue. The program is a free, open-sourced planning guide for artists to find their value and take what they deserve making their lives more sustainable. Cromie used the same techniques for older actors and applied them to aspiring artists at the College.

Cromie speaks with the perspective of being an actor, director and artist. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)
Cromie speaks with the perspective of being an actor, director and artist. (Michael Cort / Photo Assistant)

The talk focused on three things that will sustain life as an artist and maintain a career. The three components include “your skills as an artist, community and your mission.” Cromie honed in on the societal conception that artists lack all other skills aside from art. He urged any artists in the room to dismiss this idea and find the confidence to use their skills in all aspects of their lives.

Cromie also encouraged artists not to be afraid to ask for help. Focusing on the community, he noted the importance of having friends and family outside of work. Artists have to give themselves a break from work to make sure that they can produce better work. Leading a frantic life can become a pattern, Cromie said, but chasing praise for your entire life is not needed.

“Define success for yourself,” Cromie said. “If you don’t, you’re going to be in for a life of hurt. There will always be more rejections than acceptances.”

By applying these aspects to artists’ work, Cromie hopes artists will lead happier and more productive lives.