Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Can a Creative Have a Career?

Recently, I was watching a jazz concert on TV with some friends. At one point, someone mentioned how too many colleges were encouraging people to pursue hobbies as careers. They said that far too many people feel that they can make a living by performing or creating something that is really nothing more than a hobby. They need to be realistic and understand that only a very few people will actually make it to the point where they can survive off their performances or creations.

As an artist, you can imagine my own curiosity in their comments. Okay, realistically there are far too many people out there that are creating art and trying to sell it. Most of it is very poorly done. It seems that everybody is taking up a creative "hobby" and trying to sell it on the Internet.

But on the other hand, I can't help but wonder how my profession has been degraded to a hobby. Does all my years of training and the hundreds of canvases used in practice literally mean nothing? Is it all worth nothing? How is it that a skill that is extremely hard to develop and market is labelled as a hobby and not a serious profession?

When I first met my husband, I had the opportunity of meeting some of his acquaintances as well. When I was asked what my major was, (we met in college) I replied that I was majoring in Fine Art or painting. The immediate reply to that was, "Oh, so you are just in college to get married." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. Being an art major was not considered a serious pursuit and I couldn't honestly believe that I could make a career out of being an artist. So the only logical conclusion to draw was that I was only attending college to meet the man of my dreams. The ironic part is that I just HAD met the man of my dreams, but that had absolutely nothing to do with me being in college. I have always known that I had a gift and that it needed to be shared with the world. Getting my degree was just part of the plan.

I reject the notion that art is not a serious lifetime pursuit. Why can't it be? If one has the right attitude, the right skills, the right motivation, and the right connections, it is all possible. For all you artists out there, don't let others get you down. Believe in yourself, because if you don't, no one else will. There are many many ways for an artist to make a living. You may never be rich and famous, but you can have a profession and a career that you enjoy and that makes you happy. I believe that the first step to a successful career as an artist is to reject the "starving artist" myth. Understand that you have a skill that others don't, and the time you invest in perfecting it is worth something.

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