Some people choose a job simply because it pays the bills and leaves them with plenty of time to pursue other interests.
So do you really want to be an artist? Is this a realistic career choice, or are you going to live in a poor flat for the rest of your life, fulfilling the “starving artist” stereotype?
It takes a lot of determination, hard work, hard selling, and persistence to make a career as an artist. You need to create works of art that people want to buy. Are you willing to change your style and subject matter so that people will buy more? Will you take commissions? Paint to order in terms of size, colour, and subject?
Being a competent and successful visual artist is not easy. You will also need to be able to market yourself and your work. It is, however, possible to make a career as a visual artist, but it is tough and few artists make a living through their art.
Though most of us are exposed to art only as paintings and sculptures in galleries, a career in art is not limited to being a painter or sculptor of stones.
Behind every piece of art in a newspaper, magazine, book, poster, and leaflet there is usually a team of graphic or commercial artists.
There are also graphic artists putting together magazines, illustrators drawing the cartoons and graphics.
Website designers, computer-graphic artists (who draw the graphics and animation at — ZBC- TV, M-Net, SABC and other stations).
Mural painters and make-up artists are just some of the career choices one can make today.
Thinking more broadly, photography, landscape design, interior design, shop-window design, picture framing, and textile and clothing design are additional choices to make for artistic people.
So are careers in furniture design, lighting design, architecture and engineering.
These all require creative skills and, even if in your heart you long to be a “fine” artist, working in any of these fields will complement what you do at your easel in your
‘own’ time. The creative industry is competitive but rewarding.
Although art will not make you the same money as being, say, a stockbroker, you have to decide what is more important to you: money or having a job/career you thoroughly enjoy and which brings you peace of mind and spiritual fulfilment.
You will probably have more fame than money, however.
Assess your priorities and make your choices accordingly.
Take enough business courses to ensure you have the skills to sell yourself and your work, and can manage your own business. You also need to be able to market yourself and your work.
As the saying goes, “You don’t choose art — Art chooses you”.
- Dr Tony Monda holds a PhD in Art Theory and Philosophy and a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration) in Post-Colonial Heritage Studies. He is a writer, art critic, practising artist and Corporate Image Consultant.