To the Artists

Many people caution that pursuing artistic careers (author, musician, painter, etc.) will often result in someone becoming the infamous “starving artist” that lives in the least expensive manner possible (in a car or on a friend’s couch).

Those passionate about the arts must remember that a harsh reality check does not necessarily mean they must give up on their dream professions. A reality check serves as a reminder to be strategic, not to crush your dreams.

I will discuss some strategies in a moment, but here is the reality check. An artsy career is competitive. It is not smooth or formulaic in the way that as long as you invest in a degree, you can get the job (although certain schools do have music industry majors). As an artist, your career path may be free-form and even coincidental. In the face of this uncertainty, you must be able to have endurance.

The first strategy is common: see if your artistic passion really needs to be your main job. Personally, writing helps me, but it does not necessarily need to be my job. For me, writing is an uncomfortable life if focused on, but instead of abandoning it, writing can be used as a stepping stone for another job or focus. It helps me communicate, it keeps me creative, and it gets me to think. I can also do the writing I want during my own free time.

A second option is to major in your art and minor in business. Financial success in artsy careers means having an understanding of your creative goals and knowing how to achieve them from a business standpoint. You can even get a masters in arts management. As mentioned earlier, schooling might not directly lead to a career in the arts, but you would still be expanding your toolkit and getting a business education.

Last pieces of advice if you are really serious about this: you need to know how much money the goal you have costs. Then there’s work--if it’s in the industry, you can take the job and learn that skill. Maybe you’ll end up specializing within the industry, but knowing that skill can come in handy.

The few who make it to the very top know they have changed the world. In my eyes, if you have surpassed the “starving artist” stage, I applaud you.

Chase Robbins