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Get Real! Myths and Advice About Arts Majors and Careers

People say a lot of things about visual and performing arts fields, but what matters is the truth and what you want to do in life. Here's what to know!

What is one college major you always hear people say to avoid? You may have heard it’s a big waste of time to invest in an Arts major. But it's only a waste if you make it a waste. There’s a lot of anxiety around choosing your major in college; you don't want to make the wrong choice, but you also want to major in something that will bring you success and happiness in life. There are many rumors and myths about being an Arts major, so let’s talk about some of the most common ones as well as reasons people pursue this field despite it—plus why you should and how you can!

Common myths about Visual and Performing Arts majors 

 “Art majors are useless.” “Art isn’t a good investment.” “You don’t learn any real-world skills studying Art.” Do any of these comments sound familiar? Sure, if you invest your time in the arts, there’s a 10% chance of making your primary income from the arts. But don't let that fact consume you. The key word is primary as well as the complexity of the idea of the "real world." Your everyday life and schedule may not be the same as someone else's. As an artist, you could have multiple streams of income from various endeavors. And it’s a very subjective thing to say that anyone who studies the arts isn’t learning real-world skills—because the world requires a lot of types of skills.

Pursuing a creative major for the right reasons

There are around 200,000 art school graduates who are currently making their primary income from their art in the US, but a real artist typically doesn’t care about the money. It’s the beauty and passion of sharing your emotions and feelings through visual presentation, physical movement, or even sound. If you pursue art, it’s important to not make your main goals for the future revolve around money. Most graduates can make money from their art—just not enough to make a living. But there’s nothing wrong with having a secondary job to help with your income, so you can do something you love and also something that will make you money to live comfortably. In art school, it will show who’s there for the beauty of art and who’s there with a money mindset.

Related: 6 Career Paths for People Who Want to Use Their Creativity

Learning how to advertise yourself

If you want to be loud with your art and get people to notice you, you have to learn how to advertise yourself. And you can learn these things in college—about your art and how to make yours stand out from the rest. College will also show you the middle ground between your fun passion and the commitment necessary for a job. If you graduate from college with the determination to pursue art, you always have the option to teach it for financial stability while you keep advertising yourself. Never give up on the dream that someone out there will recognize your unique art and want you to paint for them professionally or sign a label because your music tells a story. It makes you wonder if you would be as good as you are if you didn't go through the proper schooling first; the answer for many is no.

Committing yourself to your craft 

You can conquer the creative world—you just need to have the motivation. Don't let the end of college come and go feeling like you wasted your time. The only way the arts could truly fail you is if you’re committing to it with little to no interest in your work. Think before putting your money into an endeavor. If you've been painting for 10 years and you know that's something you want to do for the rest of your life, then go for it and paint what you love. But if you just started making clay pots and you’re not even sure if it’s your thing yet, don’t commit four years of tuition to it just yet. You need to make sure it’s what you want to do for the long haul. It's hard to know exactly what you want to do in life, and that’s why college is a place where it’s okay to make mistakes and explore your interests.

Related: How to Stay on Top of Homework as an Art Major

Looking to the future

The future can be scary, which is why it’s important to really determine the options you have laid out in front of you to make the right choices. Others might have opinions about your path, but what really matters is if you're happy at the end of the day. They aren't the ones putting in the work—you are. Keep your best interests at heart when making tough decisions like this one. Art is a beautiful thing, and if you see it seriously contributing to your future and want to commit to it, it will be worth it. Listen to the people around you and try to see the argument from all perspectives, but make your decision based on your needs and goals.

Ready to pursue your college career in the arts? Start searching for the school to make your dreams a reality by connecting with our featured visual arts colleges and featured performing arts schools

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About Arianna Miller

Arianna Miller

Arianna Ivette Miller is a student writer attending Seminole High School and the PSI High program. She plans to get her PhD in Psychology and work as a psychiatrist, with a side job as a freelance creative writer. She started the organization YOUCANEAT, where her team goes into the world to help at homeless shelters and soup kitchens. With the help of donations, the group's goal is to fight hunger globally, but for now, she's happy to fight it in her community.


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