Mind-Changing Responses for Art Career Skeptics

Paige Simianer | July 25, 2017

There Are Always Going to be Doubters 

These are the people that, no matter how excited you are about creating art, will try to convince you that being a professional artist is not the career path you should go down.

It’s frustrating to have to explain yourself, for sure, but there’s no need to be up in arms.

In fact, take a moment to consider why some people are so skeptical. Is it coming from a place of concern? Are they are projecting their own apprehensions about their job choice onto you? Either way, it’s a great opportunity to convince them how amazing an art career can be and get them back in your corner.

You never know when the conversation will creep up, so make sure you are prepared with a mature response.

If you need some guidance, check out four different approaches you can take when talking to people in your life who are doubting your career path as an artist.

Dispel the Starving Artist Myth One Doubter at a Time

Remember: the people close to you just want what’s best for you. Hearing that a friend or family member wants to be a professional artist can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when the first and only image that pops into their mind is that of a poor creative, always struggling to make ends meet, sacrificing everything for the sake of the craft.

The problem is, this stereotype is not necessarily accurate. And, explaining the nuances of an art career can be the key to getting non-believers back on your side.

Fine art photographer Jenna Martin faced reservations about her career choice from her mother, that is until her mom job-shadowed her one day.

Her advice for the doubters: “If you’re having trouble letting us pursue our dreams for fear that you’re watching us ‘throw our lives away’, get to know our profession first. You might be surprised how similar a career in art is to other, more traditional career paths.”

So, what can you do?

Explain that you are an entrepreneur running an art business, that you have skills that customers will pay for.

Go over your business plan and that there are many different avenues to make money as an artist. Give examples of artists in your network who’ve “made it” that you can turn to for guidance. Explain that there are tools like Artwork Archive that artists can use to stay organized and profitable.

By showing that you’ve thought this through, you've done the research, and are prepared to succeed as an artist will help convince others that you’re ready, no doubt about it.

Get Philosophical and Let Them In On Your Big Picture

Not everyone gets to work their dream job. But, why should that include you?

If you’re lucky enough to figure out what that is, you have to go for it! Doing what makes you happy makes life worth living.

You know it won’t be constant laughs and smiles—you won’t always have a steady income and at times you’ll face rejection. But, let them know that these problems are manageable as an artist. Working a dead-end job that you dread going to every day? That seems less manageable.

Following your passion and loving your work is the greatest payoff in the world. Clarify this with the doubters, and they’ll either get it or they won’t.

Follow your own passion—not your parents’, not your teachers’—yours. - Robert Ballard

Be Objective and Defend the Value of Art With Cold, Hard Numbers

Perhaps these skeptics doubt the art industry itself and the importance of art to consumers and communities. If that’s the case, drop a little knowledge on them while remaining objective.

Are they aware that art sales topped $65.1 billion in 2022, a 29% percent increase over 2 years?

Or, that online art sales only expanded in 2022, climbing 7% to about $13.3 billion (more than double the level of 2019).

It’s clear that the art world only continues to grow, even with the changing social and economic landscapes. Technology is making art more accessible than ever. And, with tools like Instagram, it’s becoming easier to reach your target art customers and get discovered.

Not to mention the personal impacts of buying art! People enjoy having something human-made in their homes—something that tells a story and allows them to express themselves. Art encourages dialogue and growth, challenges our assumptions, reminds us of what’s possible, and even inspires us to be brave.

No Need to Say a Thing

As the old saying goes, haters gonna hate. Okay, maybe not that old, but it’s true! Sometimes people just aren’t going to understand, and the best course of action is to just take a deep breath, let go of the negativity, and focus on yourself.

Why? It’s your life. Not theirs.

Think about it. Would you let someone else tell you what to wear, eat, or say every day of your life? Why this monumental decision then?

You are the only one who knows what will make you happy, and you are the one who has to live every minute of your life. And, that’s a long time to be doing something because someone else wants you to.

What’s the bottom line?

There will always be those people in life who’ll try to convince you that being an artist is not the best path.

In the words of Jen Sincero from her book:

 “If you do the absolute best you possibly can, and come from a place of integrity, then you can be proud of yourself, and not give a damn about what anyone else thinks.”

Use these responses to calm any doubters you come across, but in the end, know that you can be proud that you’re following your dreams.

Prove the doubters wrong. Make a living doing what you love. Get organized with your free trial of Artwork Archive.

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