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The Unestablished Artist Guide

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Welcome. I’m Nick Turturro, an unestablished artist. An artist who dedicates a significant amount of their time, money, and energy into the pursuit of creation, and does not see the return of these sacrifices in the form of social attention, financial benefit, or commercial success.

While upon initial review the sentence above implies that being an unestablished artist has a negative impact on my life, but that is not the case. In order to understand the impact of being an unestablished artist, it is first necessary to explore the path I have chartered to reach this point in my life.

I'm going to use a lot of words that have negative connotations attached to them. Words like "unsuccessful", "unaccomplished", and "unestablished". Please note that every time I use one of these words, I am doing so with big fat "air quotes" as I am referring to a general perspective and not the one I maintain for you and I. However, to maintain some semblance of dignity in my writing, I will exclude using these "air quotes" from the rest of the blogs.

I was a late bloomer (we will speak to that in another blog) in deciding to pursue a career in performing arts. I made the decision right before my senior year of high school. Surrounded by peers who had been singing, dancing, and acting since the age of three, I felt overwhelmed by the whirlwind of information about how to pursue a career in this field, and that I was already behind and therefore at a disadvantage. Despite my lack of training, I managed to get into a reputable conservatory program, took my classes seriously, and graduated from college generally respected by my peers and with a piece of paper that said: “greatest artistic growth” (the “most improved” award as my friends and I fondly refer to it). All in time to graduate and showcase in the spring of 2019, ready to become a wildly successful actor in New York City. I joined a downtown theatre company immediately upon graduation, I had some interest from the occasional manager and agent. I was on my way.

photo of me as a freshman

Nine months later, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the industry I was aggressively pursuing success in. The Universe forced me into a premature sabbatical at 23, and I was not happy about it.

Two years later, I’m still living in New York. I haven’t been on a TV show. I haven’t shot a movie. I’ve spent significantly more money on headshots, classes, and auditions than I’ve made. The only connection some people may have with the name Nick Turturro is a series regular on the show Blue Bloods, and that’s a different guy.

I’ve spent a lot of time not happy with where I am. Grieving over a career that wasn’t happening. Feeling like I was trapped working jobs that I hated in pursuit of an impossible dream. When will the pandemic end? When will someone recognize my talent? How is that person so much further ahead than me? Am I wasting my life doing this?

First, no, I am not wasting my life in artistic pursuit, and neither are you. Second, spending your time grieving a loss that has not happened yet is a fruitless pursuit. The unestablished artist isn’t a loss of anything. The difference between the established artist and the unestablished artist is an adjective. People aren't adjectives, people are nouns. So then what is an unestablished artist? They are an artist. You can put any adjective in front of the word artist; happy, sad, passionate, apathetic, successful, poor, beautiful, haunted, and it doesn’t change what they are. They are an artist. I am an artist. You are an artist.

I’ve learned a lot so far in my time spent as an unestablished artist, and I continue to do so. In this blog I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned from my invaluable time as an unestablished artist. From technical skills to daily practices to trial and error mistakes, I hope to give you insight into my world and the tools, tips, and tricks I’ve learned to find joy in the journey to becoming an established artist, or whatever type of artist makes me happy. This is an ongoing blog, an active autobiography for the unaccomplished life if you will. I will grow and learn from writing these blogs as I hope you will as well from reading them. I hope you enjoy these, as I enjoy putting down my experiences on virtual paper to look back on.

Cheers to you, from one unestablished artist to another.

Nick Turturro

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