‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
I’m sure you have heard this annoying question since childhood. As you approach your teenage years, your future career becomes a serious matter. When it comes to this subject, I encourage everyone to pursue their dream. OK, but if you want to pursue an artistic career? How can you break the news to your family without causing any drama?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise to your family. You all shared the same house, so it’s impossible they haven’t noticed your artistic aptitude(s). They have seen you draw or paint, have attended some fashion shows in the living room, went to your backyard concerts, or read some of your poems. Perhaps this type of inclination runs in your family. Or you already took some courses they had paid for.
My point is your parents are more or less aware of your talent, but maybe they believed you were going to be a doctor, a teacher, or a lawyer. If that’s the case, it’s time to settle the matter once and for all. You were born with this ability and you mustn’t let it go to waste.
Tips on how to tell your parents about your future artistic career
The situation is different for every family due to its dynamic and attitude towards art, but here are some ideas on how to communicate your intention:
Wait for the right moment. You must approach the subject when everybody is open to conversation or when they bring the matter up.
Explain why you must follow your dream. Open your heart and describe why you made this decision: because it feels right to you, because you experience happiness while creating art, and because you are good at it. This way, your parents can understand that you are emotionally invested in your dream. Maybe this will appeal to their own past experiences, thus making them willing to listen to you.
Prove them you have thought things through. Parents tend to approve your decisions if you have a good plan. For example, tell them what institution you would like to study at, what additional courses or accredited programs you’d like to pursue, how you plan to explore and promote your artistic gift. Being an artist isn’t all just inspiration and glory. It’s about hard work, practice, learning from your mistakes, and knowing what you have to do next.
Keep your cool. You can’t entirely predict how your parent will react, but remember to count to five before replying to their remarks. This will help you to articulate your thoughts and get the right message across. If the situation becomes tense or you don’t feel comfortable anymore, you can decide to end the conversation for the moment and continue it another time.
As I’ve said before, each family is different. I can’t promise you they will be over the moon with your decision, but I believe they want what’s best for you.
Further on, I’d like to elaborate on some essential matters regarding the artistic field: special training, the role of networking, and why you should have a back-up plan.
Is it necessary to have a degree to pursue an artistic career?
Certainly not. I bet that many musicians the public admire nowadays haven’t graduated from the Conservatory. Even so, they compensated by constant practice, trying new styles, imitating other artists, and so on. Likewise, the great writers arose to fame when writing courses didn’t exist.
However, you need special (academic) training to work in specific art fields, such as stage acting, film industry, not to mention ballet.
So, to answer the question: it depends on your inclination. While in most artistic areas it isn’t mandatory to get a degree, you might benefit from the courses in many ways. You can get scholarships, get in contact with the artistic world, work on many projects, and receive constant feedback from your teachers.
Create a support network
Nobody can succeed on their own. Make sure to surround yourself with caring, resourceful people who can guide you. You can include everybody in your network, from your family and friends to your teachers and mentors. Likewise, cultivate your relationships by being a reliable friend too. Keep in touch with like-minded fellow artists and appreciate their work – because you know how important this is.
Have a back-up plan
The world is unpredictable; so is the labour market. During this year, people from all professional fields struggled to keep their business open or to find alternative sources of income. The artistic field was the most challenged because many events such as concerts and art exhibitions were held in restricting conditions or downright cancelled.
And even without a pandemic sweeping the world, I feel like you should have a back-up plan. Maybe your career might not flourish in the first year or so. You have to make ends meet until you make a name for yourself: take a part-time job that will still allow you to practice your craft. Become part of your local art community. Seize every opportunity, try new experiences, and chase your dream!
Taking the future into your own hands and speaking up your mind might be intimidating at first, but it’s a part of growing up. The world will always need creative people, so I encourage you to fight for your artistic career. Be sure to make informed decisions you are happy with!