What is working as an artist like?
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  1. #1
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    What is working as an artist like?

    Hi! I've been having a sorts problem lately that has caused a couple of questions to arise. I got myself into art March of 2010, I was previously taking classes for Engineering kinds of things in my high school. After several field trips to places where engineers were working and seeing them in action, I decided it wasn't something I wanted to do, so I turned to the possibility of having art as a career in august of 2010. Recently, however, I have been getting some opposition to going into an art career from just about everyone in the family except for my dad, and it sort of has me worried.

    Is going into an art field right for me? What is it like? I have no first hand experience, I'm just 17. I had been hoping to major in something like illustration, and I think it'd be pretty cool to be an illustrator or a concept artist, but I have no clue what the work is actually like, or how to convince the rest of the family I'm not making the wrong decision. I think most of their concern is the stereotypical "low pay of the starving artist." They don't understand why I would want a job I love over a lot of money. That said, can anyone offer assistance on what the field is like? First hand experience is, of course, preferred, but I'm more than willing to listen to what everyone has to say.

    Here is my dA and sketchbook, for anyone who is interested in where I'm at art wise-ish now: http://xdragon777x.deviantart.com/gallery/ & http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...=199725&page=5
    And of course, we can't forget, how I drew in March of 2010. *shudders* http://xdragon777x.deviantart.com/ga...craps#/d2lgl0a

    Last edited by Darkscale; June 5th, 2011 at 09:33 PM.
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    If you're no good, trying to be a pro artist is a rotten way to spend your time and you will be poor and unhappy. If you're good, it's awesome.

    If you don't have a friend or family relationship with any professional artists who can put you on the right path and show how to do the right stuff and avoid the guff, it will be very very difficult.

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    I joined the forum specifically to respond to your question. That's love, no? You drew me from lurkdom.

    My sister has a degree in engineering and I have a degree in art. As such, she is friends with many other engineers and I'm friends with people who've gone a more artistic route. I would preface this by saying you're 17 and you can't possibly know what the hell you want to do with life (mostly because at 17, I didn't know what I wanted to do ), but that isn't helpful and might not be true for you.

    If you enjoy engineering and enjoy those classes, keep taking them! I know the impression you got of engineering as a whole might seem life-sucking or fun-sucking or individuality-sucking, but there are so many facets and possibilities that you should explore before writing it off. There's biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, industrial engineering etc. You could be working in a lab, an office, from your car. You could find work in Dubai or the US military. Engineering is a huge and varied field.

    Just like art. One thing I would keep in mind, and one thing I wish someone had emphasized to me, is that art right now might just be fun. If art is your job, it isn't always fun. Does that make sense? By my junior year of college, I had totally fallen out of love with all things artistic, and it took a while before I felt like doing anything art-related for my personal enjoyment. If there wasn't a sketchbook assignment, I wasn't sketching. I didn't even go to my studio unless I absolutely had to. When you do something because you have to, and not because you want to, it changes it. If the idea of art potentially being a chore (even for a little while) is devastating to you, then I might suggest looking into other options. Naive 19-year-old me thought art was the right choice because, up until that point, art was always fun, ergo it would always be fun. Not so, grasshopper.

    But for now, I'd totally just recommend taking both classes, if at all possible, and tell your family to shove it. You're 17! Ask them all if they knew exactly what they were going to do with their lives at 17. I'm sure most of them changed their majors and even careers a couple of times. That's normal. I started college as pre-law But we grow, we evolve, we find ourselves, et al. Just get as much exposure to as many things as possible. If you only have time in your academic schedule for one, I'd say stick with the engineering classes and get involved with the art club after school, or vice versa.

    Okay, I'll go back to shutting up now. Good luck!

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    TinyBird is offline Why you gotta be an angry burd Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkscale View Post
    That said, can anyone offer assistance on what the field is like?
    Well, for me it's sitting 8-15 hours every day sitting in front of a computer staring at the screen (or sometimes, paper)

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    If you want to be an artist be one, but don't do it because you think its easy or fun. It can be those things sometimes but most of the time its hard work. This is especially true if you are self-employed. I am an artist because I had to be an artist; I tried to be normal and walk away from art but it pulled me back every time until I finally gave in to it.

    I get to travel to beautiful places and paint landscapes. I try to find galleries in places I would like to visit. I spend about half my time painting outdoors from life the rest standing at my easel in my studio. I wasn't always a gallery artist; for years I worked fulltime as an artist in game development and before that I worked as an illustrator. The nature of those jobs changed enough for me to go into gallery work for the most part, although I still dabble in those disciplines when I can.

    My income can change from year over year as much as 30%. Most people wouldn't like that and I'm not too happy when it drops but I've learned to ride out the ups and downs. On average my income is well above the median income in the US but I will never be considered rich. I know a lot of artists that are a lot more successful than I am both in recognition and monetarily. I also know a lot of artists who live comfortably and are happy but have less than I do. The way I look at it is, you do your best and the chips fall where they will just like any other endeavor.

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    I'm curious what it was that you didn't like about the engineering places and what you envision the art world being like in comparison.

    I ask this because it is always what I ask friends acquaintances who are trying to make decisions like this. Sometimes they find just reflecting on it helpful. Also, there's the potential that the aspects you didn't like about the engineering workplace might still be present in certain art-related work places and the pros may be able to point that out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atreides View Post
    If you're no good, trying to be a pro artist is a rotten way to spend your time and you will be poor and unhappy. If you're good, it's awesome.

    If you don't have a friend or family relationship with any professional artists who can put you on the right path and show how to do the right stuff and avoid the guff, it will be very very difficult.
    Good response but I would disagree a bit with the second part. Mentors can show up as teachers and fellow artists when one becomes involved in an art program at school. It is up to the artist to seek them out and have the initiative to work hard and develop that relationship though.

    ***********
    I was in the same situation (except it was my Dad that was against it) and it was very, very difficult. So I've made it a priority to try to help others be aware of the opportunities for artists. Here is a "visual arts careers" handout I wrote up to give to high school age kids when I give presentations: Visual Arts Careers. Print this out and share it with your Dad, let him get behind your goals and everyone else will back off I imagine.

    If you educate yourself and open up to the idea of what an artist is, you suddenly discover the influence of artists everywhere, entertainment/movies, cell phones, cars, kitchen appliances, furniture, architecture, toy design, etc. Pretty much everyhting manufactured is first visualized and designed (on the surface) by an artist. So, the thing to ask people that don't "approve" and have a limited view of "artist" is, "Look around, is there anything in this room not designed by an artist?". Not usually.

    Good luck!

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    Thanks for the replies guys, they are quite helpful. I think I'll go for art, but I'd like to consider my options a little longer. Big decisions, one can't be too careful, right?
    Atreides - Haha, I better hope I'm good in that case. I do have a couple friends I suppose I could look to for advice. I can't really say any of them are in the freelance field/ et cetera, but I suppose there are similarities right?
    erinc - I'm flattered, that's kind of you. :3 I was pretty indifferent about the engineering things. I was as good at it as the next guy, don't get me wrong, but I didn't like it a whole lot, and as you mentioned, doing something for work tends to make it a little less fun, and I already thought it was a little less fun in the first place. I suppose I understand the not always fun part, I do requests here and there. Some are tedious and boring, but some are a lot of fun too, guess it depends. I didn't really plan on going back to the engineering classes, but I wouldn't know where else to go either. Thanks! I'm going to need all the luck I can get. D:
    TinyBird - Depends, are you having fun with that?
    dpaint - Art, and all that has come with it, in all sincerity, has been the hardest thing I've ever done. sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, but I find it rewarding, at least so far. I wasn't worried so much about the money, as long as I don't have to live in a box or something. Your post is comforting though in a strange way. Thanks! It sounds like you've done all sorts of things with your art. I still don't know where I want to go with mine.
    wooden mango - I've thought about your post for a long time and I honestly cannot come up with much. It was just this vibe I had, that told me this isn't what I wanted to do with myself. I can't put my finger on what part of it I did not like. You do have a good point though, I can't come up with many bad things that both careers don't share in some form.
    JeffX99 - I think "difficult" sums it up quite nicely. I'm not sure what your situation was like, but I know from mine that it must not have been fun. It's stressful enough to try and make decisions like this, but it's even worse to feel like no one has your back on it either. Thanks for the link! I hadn't thought of some of those before. I knew art was pretty vast, but I never quite thought of it like that. I think what I've really been wanting to do as a job is mainly focused on drawing though, so I figured illustration or concept art would have plenty of that. Maybe I can pick a couple other things off that list that would interest me.

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    Have you considered architecture? It always seemed like the lovechild of engineering and art to me! Just do what you love and keep your options open. You'll be fine. It's great that you have your dad's support -- I'm sure his opinion will go along way with the rest of your family.

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    erinc - I'm not so sure about architecture. I've heard a little bit about it, it doesn't sound like the kind of drawings I'd want to do though. But who knows? I was really trying to get away from the engineering thing really, but I don't know for what reason anymore than it's just this "vibe" I get. If art isn't the right way to go, then I'm not sure where else to go. So I think I'm sticking with art for now, and if some 8-12 years down the road, it ends up just not working out, I'm sure I'll figure out something. But for the sake of all that is good, let's hope in 8-12 years I at least kind of know what I'm doing.
    Thanks! I'm sure my dad will be a big asset with this art stuff.

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