Let's get this straight: you can be a successful artist AND make money.
It's funny how quick people can pooh-pooh someone's career dreams that appear unconventional or out of the norm. There is a lot of praise for people going in the medical field, mechanical engineering, and technology. For example, lowest paying doctors, pediatricians, make about $156,000. Also, Mechanical engineers aren't far from the six figures mark, making an average salary of about $91,500. There is a lot of respect for people entering these career fields, which is rightfully so, but (here is the but you've been waiting for) why do people get so funny when they hear "artist" as one's professional occupation?
I can just sniff the fear when people inquire "how are you going to make an affordable income" or "selling art is a side thing; it can't be full time." As much as I cringe at these wonky sayings, they do have reasonable suspicion in thinking so. Art is a very personal craft and there's that unknown of what if my work is not liked at all? It's not like I'm getting paid a sustainable salary as a freelance artist. Well, my friends, here's the secret to why people are opposed to becoming an artist and why people are so quick to the gun when someone aspires to be one:
1) They are coming from a place of fear & lack
2) 97% that say this have never been in an artist occupation
3) There are more art jobs than just being a freelance artist
1) Fear & Lack
Let's start with the most basic root of all nonconstructive criticism. AKA verbal diarrhea :)
When people bring anyone down, many times it's because they come from a place of fear. They've grown up in an environment in which they've had to be in survival mode, which in several cases is totally justified. They may have not come to terms with their fear or a point in their life in which they feel that they can decompose from that mode. So, what does this look like and how can it be identified?
Uncalled for outbursts
Manipulation through their words
Overprotective over small things
And much more
*These traits are regular and frequent. There is a difference in someone acting like this one day than having it as a regular habit
But the biggest trait of people who are caged in fear is a sense of lack. What I mean is that they perceive their problems as permanent and that the world is scarce in the sense of making money. And when there is this starving artist stereotype amognst our society, it is quite predictable how they will react. They are going to see one side: I cannot be safe financially making art, therefore, they too are not going be safe making art as a living.
It is important to not demonize people who come from this place of fear. They've been through a lot of wretched things in their life. It's finding the compassion and awareness for the people that try to knock down your art career that come from this background. Send them lots of love, so they can exit their cage. There is power in compassion. The bottom line is:
People who come from a place of lack will be drawn to the negatives and bad experiences artists encounter, associating a bad income with all artists
2) Most Have Never Been an Artist Themselves
It's like the saying goes. You got to walk the walk in order to talk the talk. Or somethin' like that.
There is so much truth in the saying above. This variation of the phrase is applicable to all aspects of life. Until someone has pursued an art career, then it would be wise to take their comment or inquiry with a grain of salt.
If you should ever encounter someone who has been an artist as a full time career and says that's impossible to live comfortably and profitably, don't let their experience be your experience. They probably have a lot of good reasoning and experience to back up what they say; however, I believe that their experience is not a preset outcome for every artist. Maybe their location was ineffective in drawing in customers. Maybe they just didn't know how to reach people and gave up. Whatever the case was/is, know that your experience will most likely not be like theirs. I believe in no limits and the power of will. Don't let your road obstacles, in any career pathway, stop you from achieving your dream. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
A lack of knowledge in Art Occupations
I get this sense that a majority of people believe that every artist is a freelance artist. Specifically, they believe that all artists create original works, are self employed, and try to haggle people every time some child walks by their art booth.
This is not the case.
Here is just a small list of what pathways you could pursue as an artist
Visual Development Artist
Character Concept Designer
Website Design Director
And so much more
Let's take a random occupation from here and look at the average income. A website designer makes an average of $81,280, which is very close in numbers compared to the average of a mechanical engineer. Hmm... how bizarre (NOT. It just goes to show you that money is literally everywhere, no matter what you persue).
Furthermore, this is not to downplay or criticize freelance artist. There are many successful freelance artist, many of whom I follow on Instagram. It's what I'm currently pursing as well, so you best be believing that if others can make it happen, you can too. The main point is:
An artist is like a rainbow; they have many colors and career choices :D
I hope this post inspired someone who has thought about becoming an artist to act on their dream, as well anyone with a job dream. Our lives are so short, so we all have to take risks and love fiercely in all we do.
Let me know in the comments if you connect with this, or have witnessed something similar with someone you know & love.
Lots of Love
Jaydon Ray Aydelotte