Chances are you were probably given one of the following pieces of “advice” when you were a child, while trying to decide on your future career: “Get a stable and reliable job, your art can’t support you,” or, “Follow your dreams, because if you do what you love then you’ll never need to work a day in your life.” And as much as I despise the first one, it’s the second one I almost have a bigger issue with.
It’s a fact that artists have a tough time making money when they start out, and even sometimes as veteran artists. Newbie journalists will have to wade through countless unpaid contributions before they even see a single penny, singers will have to do many free open-mic nights before they see a record deal, and don’t even get me started on YouTubers and how little money they make from even a million views. Needless to say getting paid as an artist sucks.
This is why it’s super insulting when someone high up in the arts biz, or anyone who already has that stable wage, comes to you and tells you that you need to drop everything to chase your dreams. Don’t tell us to risk not having a roof over our heads, to risk not eating for a week, to risk our children’s health, all for the sake of being “a good and dedicated artist”.
This is why speeches like Jim Carey’s Commencement Speech for Maharishi University graduates aren’t as inspiring as they sound, it’s easy for he and all the other privileged artists to say those things because they already got their dreams, but the rest of us? We probably will have to work, just to do what we love on the side.
Words: Stephanie Watson
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