I wonder sometimes how many artists are occasionally motivated by the desire to prove other people wrong in their notions about what a career in the arts is all about.
I know I am, but sometimes I think that’s because I’m constantly surrounded by people who don’t take art very seriously.
I work full time as an engineer, and engineers (and perhaps accountants) should be placed at the very top of the list of people who think that art is not a practical career choice. The people I work with think it’s just plain odd that I paint – they don’t really know what to make of it. Apparently it’s unheard of for someone to be an engineer and into anything remotely artsy.
Because I went to an engineering school for college, most of my friends are also engineer types. When I tell people I plan to eventually drop engineering and paint full time, I get replies that fall into one of two categories. The first includes jokes ranging from, “Glad your husband has a good job,” to the oh-so-polite, “Well, there’s a reason they call them starving artists.” The second is the more positive response category, which includes any response that implies that a person approves of the idea of quitting what you tolerate to do what you love.
More and more, I find myself judging my friends by which of these categories their responses fall into. I’m very defensive – if someone who I consider a friend makes a snide comment about the money-making potential of art, I seem to unconsciously check them off of my list of allies.
Apparently this art stuff is really important to me. After all, you could make degrading comments about engineering all day and I would laugh along with you. I have no such lenience about art!
I’ve met plenty of artists who make a decent living and are able to support their families with their art. It’s damn hard work, and it takes some sacrifice, but it’s possible. And everytime somebody makes me feel like it’s not, it’s just more fuel for me to prove to them that it is.
It might take me a while to get there, but I’m working on it. I’m always up for a good challenge!