The Daily Gamecock

SC student artists give advice on beginning a career in arts, entertainment

Local band Outta Pocket performs at The Joint on Main 1710, a local jazz and tapas restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina on March 25, 2022. Rex Hagins, Outta Pocket’s guitarist, recommends emerging artists to engage and be active within their community. 

From musicians to muralists, Columbia is filled with artists who strive to bring something new and different into the mainstream environment. This could entail performing with a band or even opening an art gallery. Either way, the arts are alive and growing here in Columbia.

The Daily Gamecock had a chance to sit down with some student artists to hear what advice they have for aspiring artists. 

Be active in the community 

Being active and engaged in the sector is the best way to grow, according to Rex Hagins, third-year integrated information technology student and guitarist of the band Outta Pocket. 

“Everyone I've ever met in the music scene, for the most part, has been wonderful and nice. And if you wait till the end of show, everyone's always willing to talk to you. And you can just make connections through doing that,” Hagins said.

Use your connections

Artists need to do everything possible to sell and promote their work, and having connections provides a great way to do that. 

Charlie Speno, a fourth-year marketing student, struggled to find a venue for his music before playing his first bar gig for free in Baltimore, Maryland back in high school. 

"I was able to get an email, first foot in the door, and I was able to send all these things be like, 'Hey, listen, I don't really have any bar gigs yet, but just give me a chance. I'll go without pay,'" Speno said. 

In Columbia, Speno got the number of the manager at Rooftop Bar from his friend who worked as a bouncer there. After reaching out to the manager a few times, Speno was given a trial night to perform and has performed multiple times since then.

Social media

People can go viral overnight through TikTok, and it is one of the best ways to perform outreach in a community, according to Paul Tate, a third-year advertising student. 

Tate uses TikTok to build a following through interviewing people who want to share their "toxic" stories — their struggles and bad experiences with relationships. He uses the platform to develop his brand and image. 

Finding other local artists on social media is how Carl Creighton, a second-year mass communications student at Winthrop University and bassist of the band Blew, got to perform. 

In August 2020, Creighton found a local band that was looking for an opener for an upcoming show. He messaged the band on Instagram and convinced them to take a chance with Creighton's band. 

"We were very small at the time. I think we had less than 50 followers on Instagram. And they took a chance, and the rest is history," Creighton said.

Plan ahead

Success is impossible without planning, according to Virginia Jones, a first-year public relations student. 

Jones enjoys spending her free time painting. But, she became very critical of her work. Like many, this became an obstacle for her internally. 

The solution she found was to take more time to prepare her art. Instead of starting on a large canvas, she began doing small-scale sketches and gridding out her art to help keep everything proportional. After making these changes, Jones became much more confident in her art, and she said she hasn't looked back since. 

Consistency is key

As seen with Jones, planning is important, but routinely creating is as well. 

Kenzie McCarter, a fourth-year sports and entertainment management student, sang at her church for years while also playing as an opening act for a country music band. After working constantly, she was eventually approached to play at a small festival. 

She said the only reason she got this offer was because people recognized her name from her performances. 

Art is subjective

Angela Scott, a second-year media arts student, has struggled with comparing themselves to other artists. She said she believed their art has suffered from it.  

“Don't compare yourself. Just create and make stuff. Because the more you do, the more you can look back and see how much you've improved,” Scott said.