So you want to be an artist?

One night last year, shortly before I left for Boston, I was thinking: how would I feel about myself if I became a ______? If I were a scientist, I would feel smart. If I were an artist, I would feel cool. If I were a psychologist, I would feel serious and interesting. If I were a physician, hm…. I’m not sure.* Then again, this is entirely speculation, since I really don’t know what it’s like to have these occupations.

Back in 2008 I would have never considered being an artist. I was interested in neuroscience. Art was too fuzzy and not intellectual, in my opinion. I liked art as a hobby, but that was all it was. I would have felt stupid if I had majored in art. After all, everyone my family knew who majored in art did it because it was fun and easy. Then they had a hard time finding a job afterward.

Then in 2009 something changed in my brain. After taking some art classes that I had wanted to take since high school, I found myself getting influenced by them and the people around me. Over and over again, the attitude I was immersed in was to follow your passions.

One thing I noticed was that in the classes, there were only a few people who were serious about the subject. It was their major. The rest, and vast majority, were only taking that class for fun. I also realized a few other things, based on my observations of people’s performance and conversations with others about their reasons for majoring in art. Here are my conclusions.

Don’t major in art just because you think it’s fun or easy. Don’t do it because you’re “not good at” other subjects. (One girl said she’s considering it because she’s not good at math, science or English.) Do it if you really have talent. Do it if you have marketing skills or are willing to develop them. (Or if you don’t have to worry about making a living.)

In no way am I saying I’m an authority on this. I’m not even sure if I have the aptitude to be an artist, based on the standards I listed above.

*Upon further reflection, I decided I would feel kind, boring, and sexy. Strange combination, I know.

Original Post 9/14/2012 8:12 PM


8 thoughts on “So you want to be an artist?

  1. I think there are more opportunity for artist now then before. Before majoring in art was about becoming an art teacher. I think there is more opportunity in commercial art, digital art, anime is big, wave art, murals (large building murals) and more.

    • Really? My guess is there may be more opportunities but competition is fiercer than ever. That’s just speculation, though.

      I think successful artists are not only good at marketing themselves, but also create opportunities for themselves.

  2. I think that in some cases, marketing is even more important than talent. As in writing, you have to get your work out there, make it as visible as possible. Maybe just the right person will see it! I’ve never done a very good job of marketing my stuff, but I can see how valuable it is.

    • Actually, I think that’s true in the majority of cases. No matter how talented someone is, if barely anyone knows about them, then it’ll be hard for them to earn money from their work. Some people are just so popular even when their writing or artwork isn’t that great, but because they are so well known, they get lots of traffic and business.

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