Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Not All Artists Are Starving...

Since the Impertinent Daughter started her first semester at Texas State, something has been coming up almost every time someone spots her doodling in the margins of her notebooks, or sketching in her sketchbook.

People tend to gather around her when she sketches or doodles.  It's a phenomenon I've encountered time and time again.  Sit down quietly in an out of the way spot, open your sketchbook, pull out a pencil or pen and start drawing, then look up and there's always someone standing there, staring intently at your work.

My daughter is used to this.  What's new is, because she's on a college campus, the inevitable question comes up: "What's your major?"

At first, she said, "I'm an art major."  And she encountered yet another phenomenon that virtually every artist/art student will identify with.

The Interrogation.

"You're an art major?  Really?  But... that's not really practical, is it?  You should be majoring in something that will ensure you can get a job, something that will pay well so you can survive on your own.  Art major?  Really?  I mean, if you have to do it, at least major in art education, then you could become a teacher."

Even some fellow art students will pop out with the, "Are you at least taking commercial art?"

*insert eye roll here*

"Why do they do that, Mom?" she asked as we walked through the aisles of the hated Hobby Lobby (I really, really hate giving my money to Hobby Lobby), looking for the Copic markers she needed.

"Because they don't understand that art is everywhere," I replied.

And it is.  Those commercials you see on TV?  An artist came up with the logos for that business, and most likely did story-boarding for the commercial.  An artist did the lighting and set design for them.

The ads you see in magazines or on billboards?  An artist did the layout for those, the design and the lettering.

Like that pattern on your duvet?  A designer made that?  Yes, they did, but you know what?  They had to take art to get there.

Oh, you know that movie you liked last week?  Yeah, artists did concept art, story boards, lighting and set design, costume design, makeup...

Like the comics in the paper?  Done by artists.  That editorial cartoon that made you so mad or made you go, "Yeah, I know exactly how that feels!"


How about those cool characters in the latest XBox game you just can't stop playing?  Yeah, an artist had a lot to do with how they look.

I could go on and on, but I won't.

And yes, I know the argument of, "Not every artist makes it," or, "not everyone has the talent or the conviction to go the distance..."

Imagine if Bill Watterson had listened to that sort of nonsense?  We'd never have the awesomeness that is "Calvin and Hobbes."  Or Walt Disney?

Anyway, I asked the Impertinent One what she did when people said things like that to her.  She shrugged and said, "Meh, I just nod and say something like thanks, I'll take that under advisement, or thanks for shattering my hopes and dreams, or whatever."

Yeah, that made me laugh out loud.

"Sometimes," she said as she peered at the markers in their case, "people come up to me while I'm drawing and say, that's so amazing, are you an art major?  or what's your major, that is so cool! and I'll say oh, I'm going into game design, or computer science, and they'll be all horrified and say, No, you have to major in art, you're so talented and creative, that's so awesome, look at how cool it is, you HAVE to major in art!  And I'm like, make up your mind!!"

"Well," I said, after I stopped laughing, "the thing is, when you tell people you're going to major in art,  you know what they're seeing in their heads, right?"

"No," she said, turning to frown at me.  "What?"

"Most people, when they hear you're majoring in art, immediately think, Vincent Van Gogh!  Or Picasso,  or any other artist who started out poor and starving."  When she blinked, I nodded.  "No, seriously, they think, starving artist, living in a freezing attic in Paris, living on the generosity of friends and family, practically homeless.  They think you're either a painter or a sculptor, or something that to them is completely impractical, never mind that there are some very successful painters, sculptors, etc, out there."  I shook my head.  "It's ridiculous and has no basis in reality, but that's what's going on."

"That's... disturbing," Miss Impertinent said, slightly horrified.

"I know, but there it is.  That's why you keep hearing you should major in something practical, that can help you get a good job and set you for the future." I hugged her.  "Don't take it personally.  They don't know you, or what you can do.  And you're already learning so much, I can't wait to see what you do next!"

She blushed, but you know, I think the Impertinent Daughter is going to be awesome.  I know she will.

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