Student Artists: Don't Give Up on Your Talent

Studying performing and visual arts is about more than just finding a job. It's about finding fulfillment in life and putting your talents to use.

As high school students graduate and contemplate their futures, those students with interests in the visual and performing arts are often discouraged from pursuing an education in the arts and theater for fear of not finding employment after they graduate. This is often a sad mistake.

Learn to use your talents

We are all born with lessons to learn, and we are given gifts to use while we are here. If we use our gifts, we will learn our lessons—and life will be meaningful and deeply rewarding. If we don’t use our gifts and talents, these lessons will be lost to us, and though we may earn a better living in an alternative career, we will not experience the satisfaction or sense of fulfillment that only the use of our talents can offer.

Using the talents we’ve been given provides us with a path to happiness and personal success that can only be found by developing our unique personalities and sharing our gifts with the world.

More than just a paycheck

I believe the keys to happiness and the keys to success are very simple in concept. It’s not just doing what you enjoy doing and finding a way to get paid for it. It’s about doing something you enjoy doing in a way that benefits others. Because no one pays you for what you do; they pay you for the benefit they get from whatever it is that you do. So, if we can find a way to be of service to others through the use of our talents, we can find a way to get paid for those talents, whatever they may be.

There are so many interrelated skills involved in the effective use of any talent, making the development of a career in music, art, or theater definitely worthy of pursuit.

Lessons beyond the arts

Art requires far more than simply learning to paint or doing sculpture. It requires creative thinking, abstract reasoning, and a mastery of tools, techniques, and materials, all of which are applicable to problems in and outside of the field of art.

The study of music requires an understanding of rhythm and harmony, the effects of which are everywhere in our society. From concerts to hearing the background sounds in a grocery store, the power of music cannot be overstated. Music affects the attitudes of people and is powerful enough to stir a military band or to sell more products in a shopping mall, as well as being a product itself.

And theater, in addition to confronting one of man’s greatest fears—that of being vulnerable in front of an audience—also requires an understanding of human nature and character development as well as an understanding of psychology and the interactions of people in everyday life. (No one understood that better than Shakespeare!)

With regard to finding employment in the areas of music, art, and theater, specific jobs with long-term employment benefits may at times be difficult to find, but the opportunities to be of service are unlimited.

With the skills and techniques that a student develops through the study and pursuit of their interests in any of these subjects, they can be well prepared to apply their unique gifts in ways that serve others while satisfying their personal need to express themselves and earn a good income in the process.

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About Jim Gardner

Jim Gardner

Jim Gardner received his bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Wisconsin in 1973.

Having worked his way through college by entertaining in the college bars and local hotels, he continued his musical career until he was in his mid-thirties. At that time he returned to his art training and began doing graphic arts, T-shirt designs, and custom painting cars and motorcycles.

Today he lives in Mesa, Arizona, and makes his living doing wall murals. You can see samples of his work at, or read more about him at


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