My main career was teaching school. It paid well for a woman and of course with depression era parents, I was schooled in getting a secure job. I had this desire to write from a young age.
The following article is food for thought. My reservation is that teaching is a demanding job. Combine that with a family and you have very little time to clean the house much less artistic pursuits.
These are a few reasons why people can't make a living as an artist.
- There should be a bonus plan for films that are box office successes. The first year's revenue should trickle into bonus' for extras and bit players and crew. You can't make a movie without these peons.
- There are a few authors that have been financially successful with book a year deals. They have a new book prominently displayed for full price and last year's on the clearance rack. Getting an advance of about 2000 dollars is what most writers get.
- I go to several local theatres. Their productions rival much larger productions that I have seen at the Alliance theatre in Atlanta.
- You have to sell a lot of prints and original paintings to pay the bills.
What I do know about being an artist can be summed up in these words of wisdom.
1. Get started. Don't wait until late in life. You may be dead or too old to pursue your passion. Many careers are a young person's game or you will never be good enough if you don't start.
2. Be realistic. You want to be a novelist. No you don't quit your job and start writing like they do in the movies. Read books about writing books. Read good novels. Read bad novels. Take any courses about writing you can. It's hard to be a good writer when you live under a bridge or your family is so sick of you not pitching in with the bills. Plus understanding working and living helps you write about the human condition.
3. Study your chosen field. If you want to be an actor or singer, you need to go to school. A quick acting class now and then is not enough. Go to school and get started. It's harder to break into the business as you get older. Day jobs are recommended. Couch surfing is not a good strategy and don't get so broke, you will do anything for a good meal.
4. Make a plan. If you are going to write, designate an hour you write whether it is garbage or the start of a bestseller. Know what you plan to do to reach your goals. Talking about it and daydreaming may be the start but it is definitely not the finish.
5. Patience is a must. All of your hard work could be a wreck. No one starts out wonderful. I've seen a play ruined by a boring actor; read a self-published novel that was an exercise in venting; complimented a print of a painting that was OK. Practice brings out the best in us all.
6. Decide what your goal is. Great works don't always get acknowledged and "50 Shades of Gray" pulls in millions of dollars. There is a reason why Las Vegas is lit up with a million lights and a museum barely can make payroll. Have you ever watched people playing the slots. Many of them old, overweight, smoking staring into the machine. It doesn't take much effort.
7. Live life as fully and responsibly as possible. An alcohol fueled story rarely makes sense. Family and friends are the essence of what is good about life. Work that boring day to day job to pay the bills. It's easier to create when your basic needs are met and your children are well.
8. Everything prepares you. I read a person's account of what a wonderful place a retail giant was to work. They had worked there 9 months. For an individual hassled at year nine because you get tenured for retirement after ten years, that is more relevant.
9. Know when to reconsider your dreams. Much like very few athletes turn pro and work several years, the same is true for acting, writing, singing, painting.
10. Respect criticism. Whether mean spirited or just plain off-based, a criticism gives you the opportunity to reflect on your work and decide if it can be improved. Be gracious to criticism or you will never hear it from that person again. I had two students who were critical and vicious the first year I taught Chemistry. In short, my worksheets were impeccable and served me well in subsequent years.
In short, being an artist is worth your effort. I did not pursue a creative field and regret it. But not as much as I am glad I can support myself and take care of family members. Balance your dreams with a job.