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Debunking Myths About Artists

If you are among the creatively blessed on this big blue rock, you’ve more than likely heard many myths about artists. Some of that shade may have been thrown at you.

These false perceptions frequently rise from oral or written traditions born out of historic events. And in most cases, they are purely romanticized views that just aren’t accurate.  

They often come from non-artists who don’t understand the artistic process. But sometimes these myths are perpetuated within the community – which is completely needless. 

Whatever the case, there is more than a handful of misconceptions that can be enough to drive artists from pursuing the very thing that makes them feel alive. They are as follows:

1. Suffering Is Necessary to Create Good Work

Also known as the myth of the starving artist, there’s no written rule that states without suffering there cannot be art. It does not lead to golden inspiration or produce genius. In fact, it’s often the opposite situation.

Squatting in a cheap (or free) warehouse without heat isn’t conducive to creating a masterpiece. It’s a recipe for freezing fingers, hunger, and potential illness. This sort of suffering can lead to depression and leave an artist feeling completely discouraged and isolated. 

Yeah. Chances are good you’ll face some financial struggles if you choose a life as an artist. Especially at first. But giving into the idea that you have to continue struggling if you’re ever to produce your opus is utter nonsense. 

2. Thriving Only Happens in a Big City

In all fairness, this myth was much more of a reality before the internet. 

Here in the United States, artists would flock to New York City or Los Angeles if they were to have any chance of being successful. And while there are still well-known galleries, producers, and film/movie sets aplenty in these locations, they don’t have the stranglehold any longer.

In fact, there are a lot of great cities in the U.S. where artists can live affordably and still thrive in an artistic community. It just takes a little research. And thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever for artists, musicians, and writers to showcase to get noticed without leaving their homes.

3. It’s Impossible to Get Work

Some believe to choose a career in the arts is akin to having a death wish. 

The reality is, if you don’t make it off your art alone, not all is lost. You may have to find ways to incorporate your creativity into a career choice. The following avenues are viable options for artists of all walks:


The world of advertising and marketing always needs creative folks. Graphic designers can find plenty of work in this arena, as can writers who create content for ads, scripts, print, and digital media. And the music you hear behind every ad or podcast was created by a musician. 

Web Design  

Although it might sound totally technical, web design requires some serious creativity. Learning the technical aspect is relatively simple. Especially for the current generation of digital natives. 

What makes a website truly remarkable though is the design, its aesthetics, and its ability to stand out. And that requires an artistic sensibility that goes far beyond creating from a basic template. 


There’s always a need for illustrators, digital artists, and nondigital illustrators. When collaborating on creating a book, writers and illustrators often feed off of and inspire one another. Furthermore, there’s always a need for commercial design illustrators to sell their work on stock illustration sites.  to collaborate on books have opportunities for careers and career growth.

Social Media

For artists who are willing to teach and conduct workshops and share their skills, there are countless opportunities on social media to connect with potential students. 

Not only is this a paying opportunity, but it also exposes a huge audience to your music, writing, or art in a way that no gallery or small stage ever could. 

4. Artists Are Crazy

Given the difficulties that notable artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch experienced with mental illness, many believe that ALL artists are plagued with some sort of psychological issues. This is somewhat derived from the whole “suffering” myth above.

This isn’t the case. And many of the studies behind this connection are flawed. This is partially due to the fact that the artistic temperament is often mistaken for mental illness. There can be tremendous overlap.

Artists are, as a whole, a sensitive group. They possess an acute sense of observation and expression. While this lends well to their work, it doesn’t always serve them when dealing with day-to-day life.

At the end of the day though, every profession has examples of extreme personalities. The fact that society has stamped artists, performers, writers, and musicians with the title of “visionary” is also problematic. it further mythologizes them as a group and pressures them to be extraordinary.

All artists are human. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then There Are the Internal Myths

All of the myths about artists we’ve addressed up to this point have been those cast upon artists by society at large. But then there are the internal myths that artists may believe about themselves. 

It’s all too easy for artists to believe the internal monologue that speaks negatively of the value of their work. The inner voice taunts them with the idea that there’s no audience, they’re not good enough, that the work is not marketable, and/or the notion that they need to lower their prices in order to sell more.

Dealing with these internal voices is part and parcel of being an artist. But learning to recognize them early and to work with them is tremendously valuable. This is one of the huge advantages for students who attend a public arts academy high school or middle school. They learn early how to navigate around and not give in to these voices.  

Don’t Buy the Myths About Artists

It’s a bold new world out there for creative types. So if your middle school- or high school-aged child wants to pursue a career in the arts, encourage them! Start with dispensing of the above myths about artists. They’re not helping anyone.

Then contact us to set up a tour of our school. And instead, prepare for possibility. 


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