Why do you want to be an artist? Why do you want to do it professionally? Why do you want to do it now? With a wry sense of humor and almost fifteen years of experience as a professional artist, James Yarker offers up a compendium of strategies and practical advice for the incipient artist. Yarker’s lecture springs from his work as Artistic Director of Stan’s Cafe, (see page 064) the acclaimed experimental theatre ensemble based in Birmingham, England, and his experiences can easily be applied across broad artistic and performance disciplines. This lecture offers up the hard questions, frank confessions, and economic and philosophical conundrums that saturate the early stages of any creative career. It is an informed sampling of triumphs and pitfalls, ambitious five year plans, precarious yet fulfilling artistic collaborations, and the continuous redefinition of “success” under an ever-accumulating swarm of transferable skills. Fundamentally, Yarker’s lecture is the honest belief of one artist with real-world experience that a professional artistic career is viable with talent, planning and a huge amount of hard work.

James Yarker studied theatre at Lancaster University, England. In 1991 he co-founded Stan’s Cafe, one of the UK’s foremost independent theatre companies, and has been artistic director of all of its productions. Stan’s Cafe tours regularly, encompassing a broad variety of media including theatre, radio, and site specific performances requiring extensive audience participation. Some of their recent work includes It’s Your Film, Be proud of Me, and The Black Maze.