I once overheard a parent tell their child “You can’t make money doing art, it’s impossible!”
That poor kid visibly had their dreams shattered in a moment and had to think of another response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
In one sense, I get it. That parent’s concern was the lack of a clear or traditional pathway to becoming successful doing art. As kids, my siblings and I had the privilege of unbelievably supportive parents when it came to pursuing the things we wanted. For me, art was always that thing, the thing I knew deep down I was good at – eventually leading me into architecture. However, as a teenager there was literally no one I knew that went on to become an artist. Why not, I wondered?
I hate how much harder artists have to work to get recognised. It feels like a very thank-less task. I fear the same is true for musicians. You produce a masterpiece maybe once in your career, the applause is brief and fleeting and then comes the dreaded question – so what’s next? In almost any other industry, you can easily build a career at any level and be rewarded financially over a long period for it. But with art, it feels like you have to be at the very top level before critics and strangers give you the slightest chance of acceptance.
Art is brutal! A field in which everyone has an opinion for good or for bad. You can’t simply create something and carry on. More often than not, people point out your mistakes or their dislikes and (if you’re lucky) offer silence or muted applause for the things they do like. A friend of mine once said in conversation ‘no-one really needs art’. NGL, that cut me deep. It made me question myself, question art itself, why it was even in the school curriculum, and so many other things.
Why am I writing this?
- I am writing this as someone who actively parked my interest in art for several years on the back of others opinions. Now I do it to inspire because God’s gifted it to me and I don’t want it to go to waste.
- I’m writing this to support other artists who actively create and pursue careers in art with little to no recognition.
- I’m writing this to say, the next time you see the end result of an artists work, celebrate it! Send them an encouragement! Leave a thoughtful comment, ask questions, be constructive with your criticism. These things take time, much like any other job.
Anyways, enough rambling. It’s lunchtime.
Are you an artist? Can you relate?