being an artist is an act of courage

my experiences within the art world, although extremely limited, have opened my eyes to the difficulties that artists must face if they choose to embark on that career path.

there are ways to become ‘a breakout star,’ whether that means a solo show catapulting one to sudden recognition, or representation by one of the blue-chip major name galleries that cater to a very specific elite. a slice of the .01 percent that will never struggle to put food on the table.

being an artist takes courage.

making art, creating anything at all is a radical act of courage.

deciding to spend your life exploring the range of human expression and imagination, actively choosing to do that instead of a job that guarantees some kind of paycheck at the end of the day… that’s bravery.

a lot of times, we ask arts majors if ‘they’re ready to starve.’ we poke fun at their willingness to embrace a life without job security, a life full of uncertainty.

but the real question is, are you ready to starve? intellectually, creatively, emotionally? spend all your life within the four grey-speckled walls of the cubicle, never asking more of yourself or grappling with the challenges that any artist faced with a blank canvas or writer with a blank page has tackled and conquered head-on?

and if being an artist is an act of courage, who gets to decide which courageous individuals walk away with that fat paycheck, that commissioned cut or gallery representation, that museum exhibition feature that all budding artists dream about? which players wield the most power in this game? is it still that dreaded .01 percent?

as much as i’d like to say that all artists aren’t in it for the fame and the money (which i hope they are not), it’s unrealistic for artists to wallow in a cesspool of financial instability forever. they are still people, with basic human needs. rent. bills. student loans. families. mouths to feed. bodies to clothe. all these factors of uncertainty, coupled with the arbitrary nature of the commercial art world, make it impossible to guarantee a lifetime of stability for anyone choosing to be an artist.

so how do we change the system? do we alter the ways that art is seen, publicized, disseminated? do we reward anyone with the courage to be an artist, or only those we deem as good, however subjective?

questions, questions… never-ending questions.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jane Sun’s story.