For Art's Sake - No. 2: Let Your Child Be!

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Artists' work is not just found in fine art galleries. For decades, artists have created and designed you clothes, appliances, your cars and the entertainment that you enjoy. Photos courtesy of Bob Toy.

When your child wishes to have a career in art, why do you discourage the idea that “you can’t make a living as an artist” and you will become a “starving artist”? You say, “Why don’t you become a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant?”

Not all career fields make a good living. However, a great percentage of careers contain jobs related to the arts. Have you heard of the tech companies? For over 30 years, artists have created many devices and technology to improve our daily life. Who do you think created everything you own, from your clothes, your appliances, your car, your home and the entertainment you enjoy? They are all created by artists.

You may argue that they are not “artists.” They are designers in fashion, products, cars and architecture. As for me, they are all artists, creating their vision through their work.

There have been more artists in the workforce in the last three decades than ever before. Do you see that your child will be able to have an art career with many disciplines to choose from? If your child wishes to have a career in the arts, that may be an indication that your child has passion for it. Don’t you want your child to make a living, where they can create something they love and have a passion for? All your child needs is your support, encouragement and a good education in the arts.

Your child may not be able to come up with a cure for cancer or win a monumental case in court, but there’s a possibility that your child could become a visionary, creating something to better our lives and maybe even change the world.

Today’s generation is creating our future. So let them be!


“My dad wanted me to take over his business; it was a funeral home. That is not what I wanted to be doing. But yeah, parents and family [would say], ‘Artists? What are you going to do with art? How are you going to make any money?’ Their same mindset was ‘hippy,’ ‘starving,’ you know, everybody was like, ‘Why don’t you go into property management?’ God, that would have bored me to tears.”

— David Goodwine, Academy of Art University graduate, 1998

“My parents did [support me in art], but the rest of my family didn’t. They would tell me in high school, senior year, [everyone’s] asking you, ‘What do you want to do? What do you want to be?’ They put this pressure on you, and I said, ‘I don’t know,’ you know? And they would say, ‘You have to think about it. You’re becoming a man, you have to start thinking about having a family, and how you’re going to support your family,’ and I would say, ‘Well, I want to become an artist and a musician,’ and they would say, ‘Well, that’s not realistic. That’s not an actual job, like people don’t do that.’ And I remember saying, ‘Well, I read comic books all the time. Somebody draws them. Somebody makes the cartoons.’ And I didn’t really know how to explain what I was trying to say, but I just knew that somebody did it, and I wanted to be one of those people.

“So, I remember I didn’t go to art school right after high school—I barely graduated from high school—because I was so bored, I used to cut class all the time and go to the art room. And I would just stay in the art room and make art all day.

“After high school, I screwed around in community college for a year. Then I went to audio engineering school for a year. Finally, one day, I was sitting there and I was really depressed, and my mother said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and I said, ‘Well, you know, I don’t know what to do. I want to do well in life, I want to succeed, but I don’t know how. I just don’t want to be a failure.’ My mom looked at me and she said, ‘Hmm.’ She goes, ‘It really doesn’t matter how much money you make or what you do. You’re only a failure if you’re not happy.’ When she said that, something clicked, and I realized that the best way to enjoy my life was to go and pursue something that I was passionate about. So I came to the Academy of Art to pursue my art career.”

— Michael Buffington, Academy of Art University graduate, 2002


Coming up: No. 3 Why do I need art school?