The truth about the arts as an occupation: You won't get rich.
In fact, you most likely won't even make a living.
Recently, I read a great post by Noah Van Sciver, whose words were aimed at comic artists, but they resonated with me. He wrote:
"John Porcellino once told me that every "professional" [comic] artist has a secret of some kind. Something like their grandparents died and left them a lot of money, or their spouse has a great job and supports them."
I know a lot of artists who work at convincing their fans that they're amazingly successful doing art full-time. Maybe they believe that the truth would hurt their sales, or maybe it's just an ego thing. In either case, it's dishonest. If you're being helped along the way, fess-up to it.
I agree with John Porcellino; every artist I know--without a day job--either has a trust fund, parental support, or a supportive spouse. Some have all three. In my case--day jobs all along the way, and I have a supportive spouse.
And if you want to do the starving artist bit, that's fine with me--just fess-up to the "starving" part. In fact, I'da gone Bohemian for awhile if I hadn't wanted to get married. But to mislead others--especially young artists--well that's just not ethical.
When I was an art teacher, many of my students would tell me that their parents wouldn't allow them to become artists, even to the point of pulling their college money if a "lucrative career" wasn't pursued. Sheesh!
I was lucky: When I told my pragmatic, scientist father that I wanted to be an illustrator, he gave me his blessing. "Do what you love," he said. He did not say anything about "money following"--he found the pursuit of money, and conversation regarding it, pointless and boring.
Nobody would ever say that being an artist of any kind is easy. But in my case at least, not being one would have been a disaster. If I'd have chosen a more "lucrative" path, I'd have been miserable.
No, a quantity of money didn't follow--but so what? My life probably hasn't been any harder than anyone else's. It's been good, actually--and I'll take quality over quantity anytime.
Anyway, click on the link below to check out Noah Van Sciver's full post. It's a good one (way wiser than mine, and the illustrations in it actually make sense)!
Thanks for reading!