A Manifesto for Artists in an Industrial Society

If being an artist never felt like a real option, this is for you

Nate Miller
Jun 24 · 5 min read
Photo by Adam Whitlock on Unsplash

Did becoming an artist ever feel like a real option to you? Probably not. I know it didn’t for me.

In the United States, this is normal. The fact that there is a never-ending fight to keep the arts alive is normal. Many people don’t value creativity and want to cut funding for it. Most businesses don’t care about it. When people talk about jobs, they talk about college or trade school, but never creative careers.

How could you decide to become an artist and expect to be taken seriously in this environment? It’s not an easy path. But the truth is that, without any artists, the people working so-called “real jobs” wouldn’t have any of the entertainment they consume so much of when falling on the couch at night, exhausted from their “important real work.”

There was always room for artists and there always will be. There must. Let’s set this straight. Right here, right now:

Every artist can earn a living doing what they love.

But since nobody really talks about creative careers in the first place, you probably wouldn’t even know where to start, even if you already believed what I just said. I sure didn’t. But after several years of slowly finding my way, I have some ideas.

Let’s try to break it down a little and maybe I can help you avoid some of my mistakes. To do so, I’ll outline two paths for you, the art school path and the path of the entrepreneur. Let’s start with the former.

How to Choose Your Path

You would think that the best bet would be to go to art school if you wanted to become an artist, right? Well, as with everything else in life, it depends. This is a fairly common problem even outside of art careers. Since colleges are big business you get a lot of ‘just go get a bachelors degree and everything will work out great’ vibes from everywhere you turn. College and art school are good for a certain type of person.

If you want to go to college or art school I suggest you have a clear career path in mind and study for that specifically.

Art school would most likely be a good fit for you if you want to work for a company and don’t mind contributing to someone else’s artistic vision. Ain’t no shame in that game!

The Path You Should Avoid

Don’t do what I did! I went to college with no direction and came out with a lot of debt and no job. I’ve suffered from major depression most of my life, and at the time, I didn’t believe I was good enough to study art. You know what I did believe though? I believed becoming an artist wasn’t a viable career choice, so I studied various other subjects including accounting, business, and communication. It bored me to tears. I ended up working for 12 years in various warehouse roles doing shipping and receiving. It was completely unfulfilling and I’m still paying off my student loans.

Correcting My Course

At this point, art school is out of the question for me. The last thing I need is more debt and I’m perfectly capable of teaching myself. I mean, I taught myself how to rap and produce music in my own bedroom, so I know I can do this! But if art school’s not my path then what should I do now? And what if you decide art school isn’t the right path for you?

Well, in that case, you can always do what I’m doing: become an entrepreneur.

Ah, the Path of an Entrepreneur

Don’t let it put you off. Entrepreneur is just a fancy word for building your own business. Imagine a world where you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and get paid to do it. I know what you’re thinking:

‘That’s not true, Nate! You have to work way harder when you’re an entrepreneur!’

Maybe so, but you’re working on your own terms and making all your own choices. That makes the hard work easier.

You can either work hard for something you love or work hard for something you don’t. Which will you choose?

Picture this potential future: utilizing the internet, you’ve amassed a loyal group of fans that help you live your dream by financing your passion. You get to do what you love every day. You can freelance. You can take as many commissions as you want. If you get invited to work on a project you’re super into, you are absolutely free to do so. Maybe you really want to create your own comic book or start your own cartoon strip? Maybe you want to solely paint portraits of cereal box mascots? The world is one hundred percent yours for the taking!

But, but, but…

‘Nate, you haven’t been to art school. You haven’t even been drawing regularly for the past fifteen years, how are you going to accomplish a feat as amazing as that? You don’t even art in digital, gosh!’

You make a great point; I do have a lot to learn. That’s precisely why I started ‘Nate Does Art.’ You see, I’m going on a journey to learn all the things I need to know to be a successful artist. I’m learning how to art, and I’m learning how to business. I might even learn how to art business. And while I’m doing my learning, I’m documenting every step of it. That’s the important part because I want you to follow me on my journey.

Remember, I said I believe every artist can make a living doing what they love. That means you can too! I’d love to see you succeed. I don’t think it even matters how long you’ve been doing art. If there are artists making money with their art on the internet, and there are, that means you can do it too. You just gotta know how.

This Is Your Opportunity

We live in an amazing age. The internet has connected everyone and given us all access to whatever information we can think of in the blink of an eye. This opens exciting new possibilities for artists like us. Possibilities that didn’t even exist when our parents were our age.

Right now, your chances of success are pretty good if you’re willing to do the work! You see, there are over seven billion people in the world today. Luckily, the experts say you only need one thousand true fans to be successful. Odds are you can find at least that many fans of your work. So, if you feel like there’s an artist inside you and want to make a living doing what you love, now is the time. Choose your path. And then let’s make some art!

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Thanks to Michael Thompson, Stephen Moore, and Niklas Göke.

Nate Miller

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Helping you make art and make money.

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