5 Myths About Being an Artist: Debunked
Don’t be an April fool. That is behind us! Myths about what it means to pursue the artist’s path have been around for as long as, well, artists have been creating. From their perfectionist tendencies and eccentric personalities to the moody temperaments and emotional chaos that must inspire (and also eventually derail – I’m looking at you, Van Gogh) their forms of expression, these stereotypes persist despite the diversity of artists working today and the many insights into their lives and process that they willingly reveal. Here are a couple whopper myths we’ve seen over the years:
Myth #1: The Starving Artist
Snooze. This age-old ism is the go-to sentiment of non-artists commenting on the lives of artists. There seems to be a general cultural consensus that artists are unable to make adequate income with their art. Those who are examples of acute success are often dismissed as being “lucky” or “in the right place at the right time.” In this denial-fueled mode of thought, artists often receive their success from a noble, wealthy patron who rides in like Lin Manuel Miranda on a white stallion dispensing favor and social connections. Despite how seriously awesome that sounds, we are all examples of thriving artists who got to where we are through hard work and hustle. Cheers to you – the example you set for the artists in your programs will help this myth continue to be debunked.
Myth #2: The Baby Genius
The Baby Genius Myth is built on the assumption that all artists popped out of the womb mid-monologue, instrument in one hand, and paint brush in the other. We often hear “You’re so lucky – you were born talented” (usually followed by, “I can’t even draw a stick figure!”). Cool. Maybe artists are born with an interest in art, maybe, but it takes years of practice and dedication to become good at any craft. It’s a no-brainer. Example: every baby ever. Pretty sure little Suzy won’t be nailing fouetté turns on her first go of them.
Myth #3: The Suffering Soul
This myth revolves around the romantic idea that artists need to suffer in order to make good art. While it’s true that art is often inspired by strong emotions and impactful life experiences, living in chaos, despair, and struggle isn’t the crux of artistic production or success. We don’t need to cut off an ear or murder our wives as a “right of passage” – trust. Do you want to be productive and successful? Get back in the studio or up on the stage and continue to work.
Myth #4: The Artist Who Doesn’t Work, But Plays All Day
Myth #5: The Clueless Businessperson
This myth operates under the premise that artists =/= entrepreneurs. Anyone who is self-employed (or just building experience) must have some sense of business or they would be out of business and out of luck (Ya don’t say?). When not creating, artists are tackling taxes, building websites, scheduling book signings, developing portfolios, writing bios, scheduling auditions, entering competitions, running workshops, giving presentations, networking, etc. etc. Sounds pretty business-savvy to us.
There you have it. So next time someone in your family, friend circle, or noisy coffee shop alludes to one of these works of fiction, you can drop some knowledge. Any more myths that you’ve heard in regards to your specific arts area? We’d love to hear your story!
Blog by: Hannah Lawrence, Acceptd Account Relations Specialist
*Header Comic and art by ZeTrystan