Being an artist holds a certain mystique and there are certainly people who are very successful at it. Unfortunately, making a living off of your art is not easy and many people who try it fail. If you’re thinking about becoming an artist or are already struggling to make ends meet as an artist, you may want to revisit some of these common misconceptions – things your art teacher probably didn’t tell you when you were in school.
Common Myths About the Artist’s Life
If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a life in the arts, you’ve probably heard your fair share of advice from people who are living the life. The truth of the matter is that making a living as an artist is not easy and there are many misconceptions about the artist’s life. Here are some common myths about living as an artist you should learn before you make up your mind:
- If you’re good, you’ll “make it.” The truth is that the life of an artist is a lot of hard work – it isn’t some 9-to-5 job, and hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to success.
- You’ll someday be “discovered” and you won’t have to promote yourself. The truth is that most artists are self-promoting – you need to be able to talk about your work and find a way to make it visible to your target audience.
- You don’t need a degree, just talent. While talent is a major contributing factor, there is a great deal more to be learned in school than just art history. You’ll learn discipline, responsibility, and skills you’ll need to survive in the “real world”.
- Most artists eventually become famous. This is an obvious fallacy and hopefully not one you believe. While it is certainly possible that you could become famous for your work, the odds of doing so are not in your favor.
In addition to learning about the misconceptions regarding life as an artist, you should take the time to learn the truth – keep reading to discover the reality of life as an artist.
The Reality of Living as an Artist
There is some truth to the term “starving artist” and many who try to make a living as an artist end up in teaching or an entirely different career. Here are some things your art teach probably didn’t tell you about living as an artist:
- Many artists work by freelance and temporary work contracts make up a majority of their employment. To live as a freelancer, you need to budget very carefully and you’ll be giving up conveniences like pension plans and holiday pay.
- Most artists are their own promoters. You’ll never make it in the art world if people don’t see your work, and no one is going to do it for you.
- Networking is a huge part of the job. You can’t expect to be successful as an artist if you spend all of your time in the studio – you need to get out there and talk to your audience and make connections with other artists.
- Many artists have a second job to supplement their income. As a freelancer, you’d need to buy your own health insurance and pay into your own retirement plan – having a second job can give you some stability and benefits.
Whether you succeed with a career in the artists is largely up to you, though there is a fair bit of luck involved as well. If you’re thinking about becoming an artist, take these tips to heart.