you’ll never make money from art…

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03/12/2010 by Sarah Ritchie

I really feel for teenagers. I am sure you remember that time when you had to start figuring out what you would do with the rest of your life…which high school subjects you needed to select to ensure your “pathway” of learning was correct. I remember it vividly, and I am sure it is no easier for teenagers today.

I used to envy friends who knew – beyond a doubt – what they wanted to do with their lives. Me, I was wavering. I loved all things artistic (fine art, photography, art history)…the joy of colour and design ran through every vein. That desire for the creative SHOULD have been the indicator of my career path, and probably would have been had not an authoritative voice – from an extended family member – said “you’ll NEVER make money from art“. Being an impressionable teen, I listened. How I cringe at that now.

As art was – apparently – not an acceptable subject option, I turned to my next great interest…animals. I figured I would make a fantastic zookeeper and so chose science as my pathway. Leaving school I attempted an NZCS (New Zealand Certificate in Science). Six months into the course I knew it wasn’t for me and dropped out.

With zero idea of what to do next I landed back in my high school careers office in despair. I trawled through all career information to do with art and photography and hit upon an apprenticeship in Photolithography, which I subsequently did…and, the rest is history.

What annoys me is that – for the last 20 years – I have been “making money from art” (OK, not fine art, but creative design). What right does anyone have (though well-meaning and sharing the same bloodline) to tell you what you should (or shouldn’t, in my case) do with your life?

I am not sorry for the path that I took as I wouldn’t be where I am today. However, the experience made me realise that we should be encouraging our young folk to follow their joy and their skills. What motivates them? What energises them? The danger comes when we try to impose our career ideals onto someone else instead of supporting them and their dreams.

Life is too short to travel down the path of non-fulfillment, disappointment and missed opportunities!

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