Steven Sparling is an actor, singer, teacher, coach, writer and creative entrepreneur. As a professional actor, he has worked in Canada and the UK and in London’s West End. He has taught internationally and is currently on the teaching faculty of the London College of Music. His writing has appeared in newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs around the world including The Stage Newspaper, Drama Student Magazine, Musical Stages, ViewLondon, and Square Meal Guide. He holds a Masters in Creative Entrepreneurship from the University of East Anglia and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He offers workshops and one to one coaching on various topics relevant to the creative entrepreneur. He also writes an excellent blog, The Thriving Creative.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
Giving people hope and a sense of their personal power. I can remember so many times in my own career as an actor where I lost hope or felt that there was no way I could swing the pendulum my way. It was only in discovering the tools of creative entrepreneurship, and really starting to understand marketing & strategy as it applied to creative people, that I could start to see how I could change the outcomes I was experiencing. Now it brings me great joy to help other people see that they too can influence their results and give them back a sense of personal power over their creative careers.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
Paul Smith fascinates me. Not only do I love his design aesthetic and sense of play, but I marvel at his skills as a businessman and the empire he has built without losing touch of his creative vision nor the kind of ‘one man and a shop’ feel of the brand.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
That money is important. For years I thought that making art was the only thing that counted and I suffered the slings and arrows of poverty and debt as a result. It was only by getting clarity about money – how much I needed, tracking how I spent it – that I gained a sense of my self worth and began to demand to be compensated fairly for my efforts. As long as we’re willing to give our best away for free, we can never ask to be paid fairly. This is not a sustainable practice! I wish I had understood that earlier.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Go to an art gallery or a symphony concert. I find both give me a combination of thinking time and stimulus and usually result in new thoughts. Or waste some time on Pinterest! It always clears my head.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
A slightly beat up pair of brown wing tips. A bit professorial, a bit East end.