stop stereotyping artists A while ago I posted about an issue which many artists can relate to – the things people sometimes say to us: Things that Artists Hate to Hear.

Over the years, I’ve had many discouraging and stereotypical remarks said to me about being an artist.

Ever since I decided to pursue art, I’ve had to endure these artist stereotypes:

  • I will never make any money with art.

  • I will be a starving artist

  • I am wasting my time… and should be doing something more productive to make money. - “Get a real job!”

  • Artists only become famous after they are dead.

I will never make any money with art

 
People either say I should be making lots of money with my art, or I will never make any substantial income from art. They do not understand that creating art for me is not about making money – it’s something I love and am compelled to do.

Don’t get me wrong – I love selling my art – but its not something I think about when I’m painting. Of course, when I tell someone it’s not about making money, the typical response is that I’m wasting my time.

 

mackerel graham matthews

 Mackerel – 2013 - Graham Matthews

 

I am wasting my time


I’ve had people say to me that I should be doing something more productive to make money – I should get a real job. These are the same people who spend hours every day watching TV or wasting away time on Facebook.

I did have a non art job for a few years – but I didn’t see it as productive at all. Yes, I was making money, but it wasn’t something I enjoyed – and I was still living from paycheck to paycheck. I felt I was wasting my life away by working at this job, when I wished I was doing something else – creating art.

 

Incandescence painting

 Incandescence – 2013 - Graham Matthews

 

I will be a starving artist

It’s true that artists have often had to struggle to make ends meet. But, the artists I know are smart with their money and I have rarely seen any go hungry. The artists I know know the value of a dollar and how to spend money wisely.

I have often heard the saying “The less money you have, the happier you are.” This rings true for me! I don’t have much money – but I’m plenty happy writing about art and making art!

 

fish eyes painting

 Fish Eyes – 2013 - Graham Matthews

 

Artists only become famous after they are dead


I’ve had this said to me numerous times! They are basically saying that its hopeless for me to paint. I will never become famous in this life. That last part could be true – but I do not create art hoping for fame, and I know most other artists do not as well. I do it because it’s how I express myself – it’s how I communicate my thoughts, fears, regrets and emotions. Without art, I would probably keep it bottled up and eventually explode – not a pretty sight! :)

fish landscape sunset npainting

Fish Monument – 2013 - Graham Matthews


To be perfectly honest, I do not want to be famous. I’m perfectly happy just getting by! As long as I have a new painting on my easel, I will always be ok. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Have you read this post yet about one of the greatest lessons I have learned in life?

Do What Makes you Happy!


What stereotypes have you had to endure as an artist?









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  1. Great article, as usual. And yes, I do feel the same :).

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  2. Artists should be realistic and have a day job...and paint too. Unless of course you are one of the very, very few that can make a living out of it.

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    1. I agree with you about being realistic. Every artist has their own special circumstances. It takes a lot of courage to be a full time artist, and its not something for everyone.

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  3. Another fantastic article. This is one I have heard my entire life, and what has made me put my passion on the back burner for so long.

    Only after I am married, and have a child am I starting to focus on my dream. Because I knew I couldn't tell my son to follow his passion if I never had the courage to

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  4. Everything here is something I've heard at some point. A school guidance counselor told me it was a stupid choice and not worth discussing because it's a hobby and not a career. Another I have heard (more than once) is that artists are not normal and usually have psychiatric problems so they are attracted to foolish things like acting, dance, music, and visual art. True story!

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    1. Thanks Alexandra, I had the same advice from my high school guidance counselor.. I'm glad I didn't listen! It hasn't been an easy road, but I do not regret this life one bit. I also had people say that artist's are weird.. and that if I went to art school, I would end up weird too! Well, if I'm weird.. I'm proud to be weird! (o)

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  5. Good article Graham, I do still have a day job as i've had a picture framing business since I was 21 but I really enjoy it and still get to see lots of different art and still have lots of time to paint. http://www.artofthecountry.org

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    1. Thanks Jonathan.. I'm happy that you are doing something you enjoy! That's what my Business Ideas for Artists series is all about... letting artists know about art related businesses, so that they can support themselves doing something they enjoy, and create art too.

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  6. Great read :) A chap once asked me "You still draw by hand??!!"


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  7. Great article! I Love your articles! And this one is something I can relate to especially with my recent life-changing episode. As I was reading your article above, the word "exactly" kept storming in my head. Most people stereotype artists and it can be quite demotivating at times. We as artists,have to constantly pick ourselves up from this dilemma. anyway, I left my 9-5 corporate job and am making art,its challenging at times from the finance angle, but its still the best decision I have made in my life. No regrets as I am much happier in the last 3 months than I have ever been in 9 years of working life. Glad to know that I'm not alone.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Maya. Every artist I know who have took the leap to become a full time artist have not regretted it. It takes so much courage.

      Now, I'm not saying artists should go out and quit their day-jobs, especially if they are not at least partly established in their art careers. As I said above.. artists should be realistic and think about priorities. I would hope that supporting a family would have a higher priority than an art career. But, countless times I have heard of artists silently working on their art for years, waiting for the day when they retire or the kids are grown (or both). And, believe it or not, there are artists who have quit their day-jobs, because they start making more from their art.

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    2. Absolutely, one has to have a backup plan before leaving their job to create art. I think its just finding that right balance between. I still do freelance work, which gives me the Monet and I have more flexibility with my schedule to paint. Thanks Graham!

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  8. I've lost friends since I decided art would be my new career. I don't know why.

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  9. I've lost friends since I choose art as my career. I don't know why. None of these former friends will talk to me.

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    1. Thanks Eric.. It's a shame that friends can be lost.. but I would say that they were not real friends to begin with!

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  10. Hi Graham,
    It seems for many people the only validation, the only measure of success, is money. If what you are doing isn't making you money, there is no reason to do it. What poor lives they must have.
    I like the new work of your's. I liked the older stuff but I'm really seeing growth from your earlier pieces. Keep doing what you're doing!
    Best,
    RoByn

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  11. Hi Graham,
    It seems for many people the only validation, the only measure of success, is money. If what you are doing isn't making you money, there is no reason to do it. What poor lives they must have.
    I like the new work of your's. I liked the older stuff but I'm really seeing growth from your earlier pieces. Keep doing what you're doing!
    Best,
    RoByn

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  12. It seems for some people the only measure of success that they can recognize is financial. If you're not doing it for money, what's the sense of doing it? What poor lives they must have.
    I liked your older work but the new stuff is really popping. Keep up the good work!
    Best,
    RoByn

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  13. Well said on all points. Love your artwork featured in this article.

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  14. Among my worst experiences as an artist is when I show someone something, and they say nothing. When I know that what I'm showing them isn't awful, it is difficult not to feel frustrated and discouraged by their blank, unreadable faces. If I gently press for some feedback, they'll say something awful like, "Where can you sell something like this?"

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