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Making It As An Artist

Conventional wisdom dictates that making it as an artist is tough. And it is.

So when parents of highly creative children recognize their kids are struggling to learn in a regular school setting, they may consider an arts-academy middle school and/or high school.

There is often hesitancy though because they’re concerned that their child will be absorbed in the arts and won’t learn the necessary subjects and skills to be viable adults.

NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Learning Through the Arts

Arts-integrated education isn’t about ditching math, science, and social studies and replacing them with art classes. Instead, it works off the idea that highly creative students typically grasp academics better when these subjects are taught through the arts. 

For instance, learning math through rote memorization is wonderful for some students. But for those who are more artistically inclined, it can be torture. And this leaves them discouraged and unmotivated to learn. So arts-integrated educators may attempt to teach fractions through music.

As we talked about in a previous blog, fractions indicate the length of a note in music. A whole note has one note per measure, a half note has two notes per measure, a quarter note has four notes per measure, and so on. It is necessary that musicians understand fractions so that they know how long to hold a note in a musical piece. They also have to understand decimals and percentages in order to understand rhythm. 

In fact, there’s research that shows that students who learn math and other academics through music retain the information better than children who learn by purely verbal instruction. Thus, musically minded kids who believe they’re bad at math actually discover they’re not once it’s reframed in a way they understand.

Making It As an Artist Is NOT a Requirement…

So it should be clear that attending an arts academy high school or middle school doesn’t mean that students will graduate equipped only with the skills to navigate life as an artist. Students are expected to be competent in the same subjects required to graduate from a conventional high school or middle school.

Yet students from arts-integrated schools are ALSO given a comprehensive education in the arts that sets them up for the possibility of making it as an artist.  

What Does Being a Full-Time Artist Entail?

Some folks are so completely driven by their need to create that to live without doing so is not an option. This is where it gets tricky. As we mentioned above, pursuing the path of a full-time freelance artist is not for the faint of heart. 

There are those who are still determined to take this route and make their sole living as an artist. They have no choice but to follow their passion and forge ahead – no matter what. So what does that look like?

1. A Lack of Security

Anyone who would be easily upset by fluctuating income is well-advised to avoid trying to make it as a full-time artist. Some months will be up, while others will be down. There may even be dry spells. 

This is just the nature of the business. Speaking of which…

2. An Understanding of How to Run a Business

The reality is, a crucial part of being an artist is knowing how to operate a business. Artists are entrepreneurs.

First, you have to know how to get your artwork out into the world and to market it to prospective buyers and collectors. In addition, having a sense of how long this will take will help you to understand your sales flow.  

There are going to be a lot of factors involved with selling your artwork so if you can strike some sort of consistent way to do this, you’ll have a more predictable income.

3. The Ability to Keep Producing

Every artist experiences creative ebbs and flows. One week, you’re killing it and can’t seem to turn off the creativity faucet. Then the next week, you’re in a total funk. 

The problem is, if you don’t keep producing, you have no viable product to sell. And having to deal with all of the minutiae of life in the midst of trying to run a business can be a ton of pressure.

Especially when you’d rather be in the studio.

4. A Willingness to Take Risks

Artists who go all-in have to take many considerations into account. 

For example, a retired individual who’s already moved on from a full-time career and has capital is going to find it easier to make it as an artist than someone newly out of high school or college and without much money (or in debt). 

Yet, someone newly out of high school or college is certainly going to have an easier time of taking the necessary risks to be a full-time artist than someone working and/or raising a family. 

An Artist Is an Artist

No matter what making it as an artist looks like, putting your creations into the world can be scary. It requires a level of confidence in one’s ability to put themselves out there. 

It’s important to understand though that going all-in is NOT the only way to make it as an artist.

At the end of the day, an artist who creates fine art and sells only originals isn’t any more of an artist than one who pursues his or her art while simultaneously working a more secure job. The truth is, no artist should ever feel like a failure because he or she keeps a 9-to-5 job as their main income source. 

There’s something to be said for being able to strike that balance. And it’s something in which arts-integration educators strongly believe. 

Could Your Child Thrive in An Arts-Integrated Environment?

Making it as an artist isn’t for everyone and there are certainly challenges. 

Fortunately, graduating from an arts academy high school doesn’t relegate students to this path unless they want it. Upon graduation, they’re armed with an education that lets them pursue whatever makes their hearts sing.

So if you think your creative child would benefit from such an education, contact us today to set up a tour of our school. 


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