Walking straight out of high school wanting to fully scale my art career, there are a lot of myths about artists out there that got to me at times. And these myths were either never true or no longer apply. They not only paint a picture to the outside world of what it means to be an artist, but they become limiting beliefs that artists carry with them. Today I’ll be debunking these ridiculous myths, both for my fellow artists to gain a little confidence and help remove the stigma around the art industry.
- Any kind of success or lack there of comes from pain
The ‘starving artist’ as they say. I won’t deny this was probably true at some point. But the reality is is that we live in a very different time from Picasso. There’s this little thing called the internet, and artists no longer have to rely on galleries or any third party for that matter to fully scale their art business. Choosing that route is completely up to the artist, and they can find success in it, but it’s no longer the only way.
Not only does the internet change the medium in which art can be sold, but it also simplifies the type of art that can be created. 20 ft. paintings are wonderful, but not necessary. There are artists in every medium and every niche, from simple patterns, to colored pencils, to oil painting, to charcoal drawings.
Not to mention the amount of art that is needed in the world. Think about how boring our world would be without art? And that doesn’t only mean the abstract paintings on your dining room wall, it includes every single product you use. They were all designed by artists, which means artists are in demand in every single sector.
The suffering myth has a double meaning. First relating to the perception of artists, and the second laying within the artist. And that is, that every piece has to carry some sort of deep meaning.
Our need to place meaning in the things we create is a given as humans, but the reality is that for many modern artists this just isn’t the reality. A lot of us create art because we just enjoy it, it looks nice, or we find a photo we like. Especially for me, since most of my pieces fall into realism, there isn’t always much behind what you see. If I draw a car, well, it’s a car. Sometimes that car may be the one my family had growing up, sometimes it may remind me of an era I loved, and sometimes I may have gone through a deep experience while I was creating it. And maybe sometimes regardless of what I’m creating, art just has a deep meaning to me because it brings joy in my life. But you know what? sometimes it’s just a car.
2. Artists just create all day
I wish this were the case. If you choose to tackle this industry on your own, it’s an uphill battle my friend. When you sign up to be a freelance artist, you sign up for a lot of other things too. Ya gotta learn how to market, build an audience, be consistent, find some way to sell be that in person or online, learn the ins and outs of whatever software/program you’re using to scale your business (and that is many, many different types) and it’s all on you. It’s no doubt rewarding that every sale you make is hard earned, but it is definitely hard earned.
3. Artists need to be discovered
Of course a notable figure or mentor can help you take your talents further, but don’t just sit around waiting for a unicorn. There are many artists making a name for themselves, both online and in the outside world. And although rich and famous sounds great to most people, you don’t have to be the next Monet to making a good living. When your art speaks to someone, it speaks to them, and it doesn’t matter how many people know your name, they’ll still want it.
4. All successful artists hail from some fancy pants art school
If I’m being honest the art world I’m in, I can’t remember the last time I even heard from someone successful that they went to art school. Sure it may feel more secure, look good on paper, master your skills, but the self taught artist is something of a phenomenon these days. Of course those who did plow through art school have my respect, but it definitely isn’t mandatory.
5. Raw talent is all that makes it
A story of an ambidextrous 5 year old drawing realistic paintings blindfolded is certainly a compelling story that’ll catch head lines, but raw talent is too rare to rely on– or to assume every artist has it. Many artists are masters because they worked at it tirelessly. And it isn’t just about being the all-encompassing art genius, sometimes it’s just finding a small part you are good at, perfecting that one thing and highlighting that in your career/business.
I am no master not by a long shot, but I didn’t just pick up a colored pencil when I was 7 and draw a giant detailed pineapple. I spent my entire childhood trying a million different things. Everything from zentangle patterns to henna to acrylic painting. I was relatively ok at all these things, but it wasn’t until I worked with colored pencil a few times that I felt comfortable with something. I’ve always been pretty terrible at drawing, and to be honest I still am. But what I am good at is making a drawing resemble a photo. And that is entirely separate from being able to, for instance, draw things from memory or doodle like a pro. In my own business, I highlighted a section of drawing that I do well, resembling photos, and I ran with it knowing full well that I wasn’t an all around drawing master. Talent played its roll, but keeping at it did much more. You simply need to find your niche, what you’re good at and what you love, and forget everything else!
The title ‘artist’ is just too broad for any blanket statements. It can mean everything from working with galleries creating giant abstract oil paintings, having an Etsy shop with 10,000 sales making pottery, teaching in person or online, having a Youtube Channel posting tutorials with loyal subscribers, taking commissions through Instagram, working with brands to design their products, and absolutely everything in between. There are countless ways an artist can create a life that suits them, and gone are the days of the stereotypical starving artist.