Should you pursue art as a career?
This is possibly the most often asked question by those who take an interest in art, along with if they should attend art school.
It’s an even harder question to answer as it very much so depends on the person asking, and they usually ask someone that doesn’t know them well enough to judge!
But I feel there is a big misconception that a lot of people believe when they’re pursuing art, which is that they just have to work hard now and then it becomes easy.
Art never becomes easy. Especially as a career. It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. But as an artist you do become better and as a career it can be very satisfying and fulfilling.
Art as a career is very much like going on a diet, you can’t go on and off of a diet. It just doesn’t work!
To keep the results it has to become a lifestyle!
Art as a career (if you choose to pursue it) will become your lifestyle, and the lifestyle of an artist is mostly sitting around and making art for hours and hours on end.
Your social life will mostly disappear and you end up with all your friends being other artists doing the same thing, art, art, and more art. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Playing games, going out, doing stuff… Those things can be too time consuming and will have to often be set aside because unlike a regular day job, the jobs not done until you finish your work. Even if you work at a studio, people end up having to work extra hours just to get projects out on time.
Being your own Boss
If you want to do art as your own boss, you have to have a lot of focus and self discipline.
Can you draw for a minimum of eight hours a day? It’s okay if you can’t yet. You can build up to being able to.
If you do want to be able to draw for that long or longer, work your way up to that. Don’t immediately start drawing for eight hours a day, and look up some wrist exercises so that your hands don’t explode.
That being said, one has to treat doing art as a business. Networking, marketing, finances… you have to wear a lot of hats to be your own boss!
You could always outsource some of those roles to others, but that costs money. You would need to consider how much that would cost, as opposed to the time spent doing it yourself that you could spend on your art instead to make more money. Most people are not cut out to be their own bosses.
Working for a Studio
If you work at a studio instead, when a project or show ends you might be out of the job and have to get back to searching for another job.
You’ll need to be sure to save money in case nowhere is hiring and try to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. You might even have to work a different job that’s not art related at all until places start hiring again.
To be safe, you might (and should) want to build your audience and fan base online so that you can do commission work AFTER the day job just to make additional income for when a job does come to an end or should you make the leap to being your own boss.
That being said…
I love doing art, I love it. Even when it’s hard, even when it makes my hands hurt rendering tiny details with a pen. Even when I have to redraw the same picture ten times to get it to look DECENT. Not great, DECENT. Even if it means staying up all night to get it done on time! There’s a type of joy that comes from creating that isn’t quite satisfied in the same way by other things. If you’re thinking of pursuing this way of life, you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, and be ready to set your priorities to make it happen.
Everyone has different experiences with art. Your experience will be different than mine.
If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it. The real question isn’t “Should you pursue art for a career?”, it’s “Will you pursue art for a career?”