Quick Poll: Did your Family and Friends Discourage You From Becoming an Artist?

I recently read an article about Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines and serial entrepreneur, where he talked about the reluctance many people feel when trying to decide whether to leave steady employment to begin a new business venture. Comments on the article included many references to the added challenge of having friends and family members who discouraged taking the risk of starting a new business.

When my wife Carrie and I decided to start Xanadu Gallery in 2001, we were very fortunate to have moral and financial support from family members. Their encouragement had a huge impact on our ability to get the gallery off the ground. Even more important, their ongoing support through the difficult early years and the recession that began in 2007 were crucial in helping us keep the business going.

Branson’s article got me thinking about the challenge it is for an artist to take the plunge and pursue art full time, and it made me wonder how big a factor family members and friends were in the decision making process. I’ve certainly heard stories of young artists being discouraged from pursuing art as a profession.

Which leads me to a quick poll. Did the people closest to you, your family and friends, encourage or discourage your pursuit of art as a profession? Vote in the poll below, and then share your experiences or thoughts on the influence friends or family have had on your pursuit of your art – please share your thoughts in the comments below.

[poll id=”5″]


About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. If You want to be an artist go ahead but rhink about a job, this is the normal answer which is correct, the fact is in our heart art is the main job and everything else is a side job.

  2. My wife was and still is totally supportive. My father also always backed me up. My mother called me stupid over and over again and said I’d never make it and that I was wasting my time…

    Look who was right! 😉

  3. My father was an engineer and my mom was an artist. I wanted to design furniture and had been accepted at the Kendall School of Design after graduating from high school. My dad sat me down and told me in no uncertain terms that and I quote ” that is no way for a man to make a living” and I was shipped of to a university and allowed to take one art class!

  4. When I first started pursuing art my parents were somewhat supportive, after I received my first fellowship they were very supportive that year; they still continue to support me in my endeavors but they always remind me of ways to ensure I have steady income, like picking up part time jobs from time to time.

  5. As a self-taught, part-time artist, I am often told by mt clients that I need to be doing my art full time, however, I was never encouraged by my parents or siblings, to be a full time artist. In fact, it was discouraged.

  6. Art is my second career.I was burnt out pediatric nurse by 40.I married well moved to the US took a pseudonym and reinvented myself on a new continent.I now make community art and am trying to transition to paying my way.Small Steps.

  7. My Father, the late Lawrence Wilson, worked for an Italian Sculptor in Boston and I remember him bringing home parts of large molds for monumental bronzes that were to be cast. I was fascinated by the whole process and wanted to be among those that created such wonderful things.

    By the time I was five my Father no longer worked for the sculptor as the trend was for welded “abstract” sculptures instead of the life like representations that were the standard for centuries. Eighty highly skilled artisans lost their jobs in that one sculpture studio alone, woodcarvers from the Black Forest of Germany, marble sculptors from Italy and Greece and bronze foundry men who cast the bronze statuary.

    I understood why my Dad did not want me to pursue a career in the fine arts. From his perspective it was too unstable a career if things could change that rapidly. I was too stubborn to listen. Regrettably, my Father never did get to see my success as an artist as he died after my freshman year at the Art Institute of Boston in 1969.

  8. My family were all science/mathematically inclined. I was an alien in their midst. While they never actively discouraged me, they did so passively, ignoring my artistic leanings, figuring they’d pass and that sooner or later I’d come to my senses. I did come to my senses and quit submerging my need to create.

  9. My Mother was a “frustrated” artist who could not pursue her interests because of duty to her family and restrictions on what women were allowed to do. However, she was my staunchest supporter and my Dad was a quiet Brit who loved his garden and who never demeaned my love of art. He supported my hockey “career” more visibly but I was always aware of his love. I have seen parents try to block their children’s artistic goals and that was very sad. You can’t control people with negativity. Nor for that matter should we by any means!

  10. Art and Music are in my blood. Mom was insistent that I make sure I had balanced my art endeavors with being a teacher (which she recognized was also in my blood). That I did. Upon retirement, and facing health issues (that are manageable), my wife and I talked about what I would do and here I am working out my time as an artist.
    The support for me was a leg up in that it was one less thing to lie awake nights mulling over, and one less thing to deter my focus.
    As it is, I’ve realized that I have been art-focused my whole life and my memorable lessons with young students are a testament as is the canvasses, digital work, essays, critiques, etc.

  11. As fare back as I can remember I love to draw and paint and my parents encouraged it but I was the one that wanted to be a nurse! I continued my art but I never concided myself as an artist or even doing it as a career! It wasn’t until 2010 when I became sick and couldn’t work for four years that I picked up my brush and those that saw my work insisted I should be more confident about my work and get it out there! After going back to my nursing for a few more years I have finally retired and am now doing my art full time my family said it was about time!!

  12. Christopher Roche

    My parents always supported their seven children’s passions, including mine for art. Friends and other family members I believe recognized my ability, and supported and encouraged me, sometimes maybe wishing they would follow their true passion. When you are young and unencumbered the artist lifestyle is much easier. If you get married and start a family that reality changes, and it did for me……..but I am to once again fully focused on my art, and putting the building blocks in place to be successful.

  13. I was supported by my family as a young artist with art supplies, private classes, and compliments, but was asked to put aside my love of art when entering college, and do something practical. I chose teaching English but found life as a teacher, young mother and lawyer’s wife unsatisfying, and returned to art-making in my mid-thirties, learning to balance it all.. That change in direction sealed my fate, – drawn by the satisfaction of creating and selling my work, I found my way into the gallery system, out of the suburban life I had first chosen, and into my art-life, which I have been challenged by and loved for the past 35 years. The changes and possibilities the internet has brought to individual artists are challenging, yet stimulating, and at 75, I have invested myself in this new venue and my art-life is still going strong,. I am painting better than ever, my sculpture practically breathe and I am truly delighted I followed my deepest passion, to be living a full, rich art-life, even with the risk and instability that entails. .

  14. My mother made sure to place me in the path of art instructors, teachers and successful art creators. From my sixth birthday to my eighteenth when I left home for college there was after school extra circular art classes, summer art camps, and special tutoring. The guidance given was “Find your own path. We placed you in every artful situation that our locality and budget would allow, now go and make the the best of it that you can.”

  15. My parents and first husband were not supportive of me practicing art. However my second husband and youngest daughter actually pushed me into it. For Mother’s Day in 2013, my daughter gave me everything I would need to start painting again and my husband gave me an easel. She told me that I would miss her when she went away to college and I needed to start painting again. I started and haven’t stopped. Two years ago for my birthday, my husband opened an art gallery for me and now we have about 15 artists with us. Each year, my birthday is planned around a next step- last year was my first solo show for the opening of a new gallery, this year I will be returning to do another solo show along with doing a reading of a book that I am being a contributing writer for. Next year, I hope to have my fashion line ready to go. Without their support, I would not have made it this far, and definitely not as fast! Plus, my parents have yet to come to any of the galleries, shows or exhibits that I have been in, anywhere from California to New York. They still don’t support the idea.

  16. My dedicated husband has always encouraged me to pursue my art. We have raised three children together and we have all followed his Naval career, 12 duty stations in 27 years. I did not attend art school, but I have taken art classes and workshops from successful artists and put the time in at my own easel. It has been a wonderful journey.

  17. It would be most accurate to say they supported my being an artist – to a point. My family encouraged and appreciated my artistic abilities, but they wanted to make sure I had something to “fall back on,” because of course, you can’t make a living as an artist.
    Long story short, I spent a long time doing that “fall back” crap, and being a frustrated artist on the side. Then I discovered sign painting, went to school for it (no matter what, you can never really do it right without it), started my own business part time while I was working full time and going to school.
    Eventually I got laid off from that “secure” job that I needed to “fall back” on, and when I did, I went to work for myself full time. I’ve been supporting myself as a self-employed sign painter/artist for several years now, specializing in window painting, chalkboard art, etc, and never looked back. Turns out what I “fell back” on was being an artist, after I realized that those “real” jobs you don’t like anyway are the ones that get jerked out from under you between one day and the next! I learned that security is something you make for yourself; you can’t count on an employer for it!

  18. I come from a PA. Dutch background where family comes first so naturally my mother encouraged me not to devote too much time to art, that I was to be sure to give my full attention to my husband and family first. My husband wasn’t particularly interested in my art pursuits, never attended shows that I was in, and while I was pursuing a degree in art and he saw my good grades, he felt I should pursue an avenue in a more financially productive area. Eventually the guilt set in and somehow convinced me that perhaps I should listen to their advice. Fortunately I overcame that quilt thing and continued on in art but still not devoting the time I should have to doing it. But ‘in the final analisys’ I feel I’m really the one at blame for that.

  19. My mother was a teacher, sewing and home ed.
    She liked to do craft painting and paint by numbers.
    I remember her painting a paint by numbers snow scene. It looked great to me. But then she went back into the painting with her own painting strokes, highlighting the snow and made it even better!
    She always encouraged me.

    (Deleted text)

  20. My mother supported anything creative. She had wanted to be a writer. She was the reason I received the solid foundation I have by encouraging me to attend an art school when I was eighteen. Things changed suddenly right after my dad visited the art school for the first time. The ensuing argument I do not remember. Suddenly I was in university studying to become a lawyer. In the end I managed a four year degree in Honours French. After a few rough years I met and married a wonderful man who insisted I get back to what I love. I had not touched a brush in thirteen years and I decided to paint a still-life of his favorite things. We really do have periods of light and colour as artists! 🙂 The difference between what I did in art school and that still-life was literally night and day. It was a beginning. It took me many years to give myself permission. I am delighted with the outcome though. My career has just begun.

    1. Yes Karen ..this rings so true
      My father who knew of the local Art college (at which attendance was mandatory for a 12 month foundation Course before crossing the channel to better known institutions ) told me there was no way I was going there with ‘the deadbeats’.

  21. My earliest memories were of drawing and art has been central to my life since then. My parents were always supportive and encouraging, as has my husband who has always made sure I’ve had studio space, even if it was just a closet. But it was once the children were becoming independent, that I began to take my art seriously again. And it was my stepmother who set the example, as a late-career, successful artist herself, and stoked the fire to keep me moving forward. Life happens and it’s been a slow process, but I consider myself a practicing artist now (with a phenomenal new studio space in which to do multiple kinds of work) and great support from family, friends and peers.

  22. So glad you’re successful Kathleen !
    I don’t get what it is about some parents not wanting to acknowledge these triumphs.
    (Mine refer to my art as a ‘hobby ‘ as it could never be a ‘proper job’)
    Surely its what makes you happiest that counts ! Onwards and upwards !

  23. NO one was supportive for me and I thus followed a career that I hated. I developed problems and were desperately unhappy before quitting my career and following my dream. I studied a bit of art and then graphic design but am still mostly doing art. My husband is supportive but in the sense of allowing me to do what I want, not with much words of encouragement. It is hard, both sets of parents are really trying to discourage me still and they make me feel a bit like a failure but I will persist and i am super inspired so for now I just roll with it and try to believe in myself.

  24. Hi Jason,
    My father was a civil engineer. I was good in academics and arts. My dad wanted me to go medical school like most Indian parents. My brother wanted me to pursue a math or science career other than arts. He was totally against it as he felt that it is hard to make a decent living. I lost my dad as a teenager and was married to a rich family by my brother. Their only condition was that I cannot work or do anything other be a home maker, which included my children’s father too.
    In my opinion, it totally sucked. But my two children and Michael, who is also like my son pushed me to pursue my passion back again. They think that it is my life and I should do what I want to do. So now I’m entirely love in what I do. But still my brother has not approved me becoming an artist. Hopefully one day he will.

  25. My father liked what I did but told me I was a bloody fool if I thought I could be an artist he said, you’ll starve to death. Shortly thereafter my parents divorced before I graduated high school so getting a paying job was paramount to help support my younger brother and sister and Mom. Dad quit his job and didn’t pay child support. I continued to draw and paint on the side for years. After forty years in law enforcement I took up my art again thanks to a gift of pastel lessons from my wife. Loved the medium and have found my nitch in painting landscapes and occasionally wildlife. I made signature last year, a goal I wanted to reach. I built a studio on four years ago and have been on the studio tours in the past three years.

  26. I read all of the posts above- and I feel for everyone here, as I also know what it is like going against the norm of what society says makes for ‘the right thing to do’- one of the main things being, to earn a stable living (which is of course never assured as a self employed person). It seems that from artists here, friends I have spoken with and myself(to some degree) that so many of us have had the experience of being discouraged from being an artist at varying times- and family are usually the most outspoken or influential. I have come to realize now that it is mostly about worry that family have, and that we will be okay, that creates their concern and opinions. And there may be some jealousy or their own fear coming into the mix here and there, yet mostly it is concern for us being okay. I think that ultimately, those of us who are meant to be artists are compelled to forge forward and do what we have to do. My experience has been that over time, I get more assured that my decision was the right one and less concerned with other people’s opinions. I hope that this is the case for most of my fellow artists.

  27. My wife was the only one who told me to go for it. I had the chance to take voluntary redundancy from work which gave me enough to live on for a year as long as we really cut back on everything. We had a young baby too and my wife had a stroke when the baby was born. Because of that she wasn’t working and that still didn’t put us off taking the leap to become self employed. I guess all the others who were discouraging us were just thinking it would be a struggle with the baby and everything else. But chances don’t come along every day and so we just didn’t think twice. Been a professional artist for 17 years now and between my wife and I we have made it a success. My wife hasn’t worked for 18 years because of her disability and I’ve managed to support a family of 4 on my art alone. So it can be done if you want it enough. Just ignore all the negative voices, you only have one life and you will always regret not trying.

  28. My mother was a part time artist and housewife when I was young. She encouraged my creativity as a child and as a teen. But she remarried and whereas my stepfather thought my art was good, I was encouraged to be a teacher, and was not allowed to go to art school as I had wished. I ended up getting a bachelor in fine arts and a teaching certificate. I taught for awhile and then went into library work, because I still didn’t have the conviction that I could make it on my own, besides having a daughter to provide for. I am now retired and ready to pursue a life of art.

  29. I wanted to go to art college but my father insisted I do secretarial training. It turned out to be very valuable in earning a living and when, at 50, I finally took the plunge to become a professional artist I had all the business skills necessary to run what is, after all, an art business. By then I was a single mother with three grown children and, amusingly, it was my son who insisted I should have a “proper job”. My twin daughters , being artistic themselves, were very supportive. My son has since had to eat a lot of humble pie!

  30. Thank you all so much for the sharing your art journey. It is very precious to read all of your experiences and I’m not alone. My BFA was five years and I was married when I was in my third year of college. Something in me said that “No matter what it takes I should obtain my degree because I’m may need it at some point in my life further down. When I went back for my first delivery (women go to their mother’s house for first delivery), I refused to get back and started to continue with school. My ex-husband threatened me and asked me to return my marriage jewel, in our culture we call it “Thali” and I can stay in my mom’s house for the rest of life. So, I took it and gave it to him saying I’m okay with that choice. Seeing my stubbornness, my relatives advised him to allow me to stay and finish my school. So I successfully graduated with a bachelors when my daughter was exactly 1 year old. I still thank my “Instinct” every single day.

  31. At the age of eighteen, when I announced that my college major was going to be “art,” my father stood up from the breakfast table, opened his wallet and started throwing $20 bills onto the floor. “You might as well throw your money away. You should be a secretary or a teacher”

    Neither he nor my mother had the opportunity to go to college and I understood his context, however I was born an artist! He was always proud of my work ethic but didn’t consider art to be a valid profession. He never criticized me but didn’t offer praise either.

    I wish he could see my success now. I am lucky to be able to have my day job and my passion be the same thing!

  32. My father and mother were artists. My father became a commercial artist, my mother painted portraits, landscapes, etc until she died last year at 98. My grandfather was a cartoonist, my grandmother was a concert pianist, my uncle a commercial artist too. I was surrounded by artists. My brother and I both followed that same path, my other brother and my sister did not.
    It was helpful in many ways. The biggest gift for me was the early knowledge that it takes your whole life nothing less. It helped but still deciding my path was difficult when I was young and it took leaving home (the Army and Viet Nam) and the artists of my family to understand how important it was for me. I entered art school right after my discharge. The schools my brother and I went to were drawing and painting 8 hrs a day with no degree. I have been an artist since.

  33. I was very lucky in that from the time I was a little girl, my family supported my being an artist. Both parents told me I could do ANYTHING I wanted to do, and that it would take WORK and DETERMINATION to make it happen. They were not able to send me to college, so I learned that I really did have to make it happen for myself. I didn’t become a full-time artist until 2012, but having the blessing of my family, and later my husband & kids was very important.

  34. My mom and grandmother took an oil painting class and my mom’s few pastel portrait and sculpture were amazing. She always worked in art supply stores as we moved around a lot. She gifted me with art supplies. But going to art school was another matter. She suggested I become a secretary after I graduated. My dad paid paid my tuition through my third year of the five year program. My husband supports me in providing me the opportunity to paint without worrying about food and shelter. However he has absolutely no interest in art–no interest in going to openings–but he’d be interested if I brought in enough money to support him.

  35. As a kid, I was encouraged/allowed to be artistic and even take art lessons but when it came to discussions of ‘what are you going to do’, there were only urges to be a teacher or a stewardess. I went into art on my own and nearly every job I’ve had has been art-related (graphics, printer, illustrator, some teaching). Both of my daughters majored in art and are designers but their artistic friends were discouraged or forbidden to pursue art as a degree or career. Sad. From a parent’s perspective, I believe a lot of it is fear that your ‘child’ won’t be able to take care of themselves.

  36. I created art from an early age. My grandmother, who was artistic encouraged me. My parents did not. They were working class people, and were very practical. My mom paid for me to go to medical assistant college. This career was not what I wanted, but I spent five agonizing years in this profession. I married too young, at 19, and spent the next ten years in a frustrating marriage.I started painting when my husband got injured . I became the breadwinner for the family. I went to small art shows in the area, and sold some small paintings. I began making money for the family, which was really helpful. My work improved, but my marriage ended. I moved to Northern California, where I continued to paint. I went to the Mill Valley Art Festival. I met a gallery owner from San Francisco. He loved my work, and I began showing with his gallery in 1971. I stayed with the gallery for the next 20 years. I made lots of money, and improved as an artist. I went on to show my work in 20 other galleries in various cities. I ended up showing my work in the mountain communities in Colorado, where I have had great success. I now go to high end art shows in the Colorado area, and surrounding areas. I specialize in wildlife. My parents eventually seemed happy with my success. So, I think, if you are meant to be an artist, you will find a way to create.

  37. Everyone has always encouraged me, but then I’m from a family of artists and have always made art. Most of the blocks I’ve met have been situational, monetary, cultural and/or in my own head… having a comfortable physical setup to create, and just getting past my own fears and blocks.

  38. I could offer congratulations to the posters particularly for making a living from work some of you at twenty five dollars and some at five thousand dollars. It is encouraging to see not a way, but ways forward. Today and forward I get the seniors discount and wonder about the question and feel reflective. I still feel a bit sad that we bought my mother paint by numbers sets. There was beautiful small piece in the front hall that she had painted but it didn’t occur to me or any of us children that our own mother could paint from a blank canvas. (We found out later as adults.) I still have the photo of me, perhaps at ten or twelve, in front of the Christmas tree with the Jon Gnagy learn to draw kit under the tree. I was suspended from high school for going to art classes instead of the spare in the cafeteria. I wonder still did I go for the art work or because there were more girls than in my more math and science curriculum classes. I don’t think it occurred to me in my small town or family that being an artist was an option. I did eventually stumble ‘self taught’ into the commercial side as an advertising and annual report photographer. I had the resources and clients that allowed experimentation with alternative processes for large corporations and groups like our National Orchestra. I showed privately to avoid having to make an artist statement. I married an Art Director, my daughter is a graduate architect who is also more an Art Director, and my son paints kinda’ large abstracts. I have their support and they had mine. Now, from what I can gather I have to decide on my brand; a little more consistency that has escaped my life’s work habits. Should I send you to my pre-artist site http://www.cochranephoto.com or stick with the start of a portfolio at http://www.lostlanguage.ca? Thank you all.

  39. My parents divorced when I was 12. As a teenager I was already very good at drawing though never went to any arts school. But my mom has other plans for me and I majored in linguistics. Only my husband believed and still believes in me as a creative person and an artist and has been supportive for almost thirty years..my children distanced themselves from me and my art and show no interest in what I am doing.. and I have no friends who would share my joy after creating a beautiful piece.. so I share it with people on Facebook.. but if a person decides to become an artist as I did 20 years ago it was solely my decision

  40. I think of Wilson Hurley, who left a career as a lawyer to pursue painting full time. I think his wife left him. He had no emotional support to speak of, but he went on to become a nationally collected artist. He did, however have a marketing coach, Calvin Goodman, who coached artists and gallery owners for over 40 years. Calvin Goodman was also my coach in the early 2000s. He believed in me and helped me to accomplish great things , many more than I would have if I had to depend solely on friends, family, or even myself for support. He’s passed on now, but his guidance made all the difference for me.

  41. My childhood was filled with drawing, painting, and art books. At 17 I found out my biological father was an artist. My parents encouraged pursuit of the arts; however, my hearts desire for Fine Art was discouraged. I was told no one can make a living at fine art. Twenty seven years later after a successful life as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator I am building a portfolio as an Oil Painter. Do I wish to have been encouraged to follow the dream of Fine Art? Hard to say. There are invaluable skills I have in my tool belt: sales, business sense, design and computer graphics. Belief in myself and never giving up was and still is the best encouragement.

  42. My wife was totally supportive – maybe because I made good grades in college and art school and didn’t botch but a few projects or paintings. Mom would grab anyone she could find at the grocery store to show them my ads or editorial pieces in magazines. My mother-in-law seemed to appreciate to ads and catalogs, too. But the best thing was when my dad, who never said I did anything right, said he was proud of me.

  43. I too, like so many of the above artists was told to get an education that would get me a proper “paying” job…. and I too became an artist late in life. It’s an unfortunate attitude that still persists today.

    To change this attitude and encourage young artists, each year our small community artist organization makes holiday ornaments to raise thousands of dollars to donate as a scholarship for a high school student that has been accepted in a college art program or art school.

  44. I had a mixed “platform” of support. My father was the MOST supportive, from my early childhood…..One brother was literally yelling at me: “You CANNOT make a living as an artist!” Another brother, like my father was encouraging: “You really need to do something with your art.”…..My step-mother kept steering me away from what was in my heart, to do with my life, and pursue “practical” things like learning to type proficiently…. failed to learn that one.
    I arrived at “To heck with what everyone, nay-sayers in particular, thinks”. One of the side of effects of aging and independence, is the freedom to do your own thing. And so I shall.

  45. Stephanie Marcus
    Everyone in my family said, Earn a living. Be a teacher. You can paint during summer vacation.
    I became a graphic designer, and then a photographer. I enjoyed both careers, but saved money for a studio to paint in. Finally I retired and have my dream. I’m doing good work and love it. But I didn’t understand how age would be a factor. A young person can’t. On the other hand, my painting has depth and skill gained by my previous work and years of living .

  46. I became a full-time artist in the UK LONG after my family’s (what was left of it) influence could have made a small difference.
    The real insight to people’s minds came along when at parties, or such, the small talk would rear its ugly head, I would introduce myself as a ‘Professional Artist’. (On advice from my wife, I had long since retired my sobriquet of ‘professional hit man’)
    The UK is far from being adroit on the subject of art – even if they vehemently claim the opposite. After all – they spawned the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin! When any subject of art came up – and introducing oneself as a professional artist – comes under this banner, the reactions were basically all the same. Instantaneously, everyone had midnight masses to go to, golfing tournaments, origami classes, etc, etc. I had never seen so many people performing near-perfect Michael Jackson ‘moon walks, until I introduced myself as a professional artist. Mercifully – it is completely different over here in the USA.

  47. My parents didn’t encourage or discourage. They simply took no interest and my friends never paid much attention to my artwork. During my senior year in high school I was showing some of my art in a gallery near the University. The dean of the art department saw my work and contacted me , visited what passed as my studio, and offered me a scholarship. He asked me to visit the art department for a tour and I was amazed at how wonderful the facilities were. At the same time I was put off by the fact that much of the work looked alike. Based on that, I refused the scholarship, and opted to do everything the hard way. If I’d had anyone to talk to about that experience, they would have explained that the art I saw was all class assignments so of course it would look similar. I was not a particularly mature kid

  48. Luckily for me, my parents were very supportive of my art ambitions from an early age. My mother had untested and largely unexplored artistic talents, but appreciated art. My father was an avid reader and creative person who appreciated music. When I was 7 they arranged for me to attend an art program taught by Eula Long, an artist and author of children’s books (“The Story of Chocolate” and “Pirate’s Doll”). I worked with Eula for 7 years. She emphasized “free expression” and its importance. I was never taught that my art had to conform to tradition or anyone else’s view of how things had to look. From an early age, I have been a modern-day surrealist. Throughout the other parts of my varied career, I have always maintained my art and the compulsion to be creative. In 1982 I left my mid-level management position in the federal government to go full time as an artist. I was invited to be in an art show called “New Artists at Madison Square Garden” in New York city. I was one of the top selling artists in that show. Since then I have existed at least part time, if not full time, as an artist. For a while, I painted full time and carried my portfolio around to various galleries. I sold more of my art, by myself in a couple of months, than the entire co-op I had joined in Washington, DC, sold in a year. I felt that I no longer had to be in Washington DC, where I taught and then worked in social policy. After studying conservation framing at the Library of Congress, in 1985 I bought a gallery and frame shop back in Los Angeles. Only in retrospect, can I now recognize that although my parents were supportive of my art early on, they also subtlety encouraged me to look elsewhere for my work-support. I made the decision to go “cold-turkey” back to my art in 1982 (age 39). Fortunately, my wife has always supported and encouraged my artistic impulses and my drive to do my art.

  49. My initial desire to pursue art was ruled down by my husband at the time. “How will you make money?” he asked. So I earned a Ph.D. , taught in teacher training for language and learning disorders at the University of Maryland. The artistic fire still burned. It was not until I moved to Taos, New Mexico, that I became an artist in earnest. In retrospect, the Ph.D. and all the experience that went with it prepared me for my art in ways that I didn’t understand then, but do now.

  50. My sister has been a lifetime supporter of my work and for this I am very appreciative. It isn’t that my parents were adverse to my talent or accomplishment, it was the uncertain lifestyle that they assumed would be part of this’. The fact of earning a degree helped my case however One of the things I value most are my artist friends. We support each other.

  51. When I was leaving for college, NO ONE was supportive of my choosing art as a career. In fact the starving artist myth was so prevalent that I wouldn’t have considered such a career (chose nursing for a year instead — job security).
    When in my 40s and the opportunity arose for me to change to my current career as a professional artist, the story was different. By then they knew that it was my passion and my dad said, if not now, when? He thought I should give it a try. I doubt anyone expected me to succeed, but they were emotionally supportive.
    AS in the case of Charlotte above, all of my jobs and training before my career shift have served to make me the successful artist I am today.

  52. I was never discouraged from doing my artwork but always told I need to have a real job (one with a regular paycheck, benefits and health insurance). I have done that for 30 years and have never found the joy i have doing me artwork.

  53. I come from a family of artists, some in theater, some photojournalists, some music and some dance. So essentially we are all in the same boat, we know the tough road to success but I had total understanding and support from all of my family! What was lacking was the business side of art taught in the university level. That would have helped early on for me.

  54. While my husband is supportive of my art as a “hobby”, he does not want me to quit working as an optician, which is a steady job with health-care benefits. If I could make double what I make as an optician, then he would probably be behind it. Pretty hard to sell that much art while working a second job. I keep at it, though…I’ll do it. If I don’t, I’ll die trying.

  55. My parents and grandparents were supportive, but also helpful in their warnings that I was choosing a challenging career, which helped me go in with my eyes wide open. Early on, my parents paid for art lessons which was very instrumental in helping me develop needed drawing and painting skills. They were the first ones to buy my work and they continue to cheer me on. I’m so very thankful for their support. They support from a distance now, but my husband has been supportive as well. He watches the kids for me while I do art openings and demos. He makes my panels, does my taxes and is currently renovating the basement so I can have a decent studio space. Wow…when I write it all out, I realize I’ve been very blessed! Since I’ve been supported so well, I try to do the same for young artists that connect with me. I hope it helps:)

  56. I’m a fourth year medical student, living in Zimbabwe,Africa
    I love drawing with my very muchnesss
    But the problem is….
    In our culture, or more precisely, country, art is not for the “intelligent”
    Society says that you can only do things such as art or sport when you have failed absolutely everything university or college can offer
    Up to today, I am still trying by all means to convince my parents that it’s not so much about the society or culture…..it’s about how good you’re both at drawing and marketing art….yes the economy and the society have a contribution to your success….but it’s not the sole determinant of your success
    It’s unheard of, that a man can drop out of medicine to do art full time…
    That’s the struggle I’m going thru..
    I’m hoping one day, by God’s grace, I will finally do art full time..

    But in the mean time. Not a single person is supportive

  57. My parents and grandparents were very supportive growing up. The only scrap book my mom ever made was of all my awards, scholarships and commissions I accumulated during school. Now I am married with 2 children and It wasnt until about 4 years ago when I thought I would dive into fine art full time. Well it’s been lime a road that keeps going around and around in a complete circle. I have had support but not without question and doubt. Mostly from myself. I always felt guilty I wasn’t pulling my end of the weight, bringing in more income as my husband was trying to get his businesss off the ground as well. So I have been sidetracked many times trying to figure out how to make money faster doing their things. But I was chasing dead ends every time. This past year I finally felt like there has been a breakthrough selling my art. Now that my husband as well as other family members see that my art sells, the support has been strengthened. The most challenging thing is to believe in yourself and your vision when everyone else has their doubts. It’s up to you and only you to hold on to that determination. It is extremely beneficial when others have your back, but sometimes it takes them longer to see what it is your trying to do, keep going and eventually they will catch up.

  58. My parents weren’t unsupportive, they just had no experience of the art world, nor did they know anyone who was. My mother was always proud of my artwork and my husband has been very supportive and encouraging, but for me it was the media stereotype and lack of knowledge and confidence that made me feel I wouldn’t be able to make it. I always felt I needed a financial cushion, which I have now, and I also have the confidence and knowledge that I didn’t have when I was younger.

  59. Art wasn’t something I grew up around. There were no museums or galleries in my town. I was always making something and my major gift each Christmas was always some type of art material, but my mother said, “Go do this in the basement. It’s too messy.” Art in elementary school was very un artistic – example: in 4th grade we were given a line drawing (ditto) of one of Audubon’s bird pictures and told to copy it exactly with crayons. When I was 11 I read the Jackson Pollock article in Life magazine. I never knew art could be a profession. I told my mom I wanted to be an artist. She said, “you have to find something you can support yourself with. It’s not art.” When I went to college it was to get a degree in teaching high school english.
    It wasn’t until I got married that I got any encouragement about my art. My husband has been totally supportive. He even signed me up for my first figure drawing class. When I decided to go back to school at 47 yrs old to work on my MFA, he took over running the household – cooking, cleaning, bill paying and watching over 3 teenagers. Now he is retired and does all of my heavy hauling and studio maintenance. All I do now is paint.

  60. My mother was dead set against me becoming an artist (or worse, an ACTRESS, god forbid!), to the point where she essentially blackmailed me into attending a college where I COULDN’T major in art. I lasted exactly a year there, after which I transferred to my local community college and declared myself an art major. I was punished for that, of course, but I persevered. My friends at the time were supportive, and I’ve since formed a social network/family of choice who all wholeheartedly support and encourage my efforts. I am grateful for these people, because I know firsthand how hard it really sucks when the people who are supposed to be helping you decide that it is God’s will that they should sabotage you instead.

  61. My parents were not supportive and when I was married for over 15 years and wanted to become an artist my husband first agreed and 10 years later divorced me because of it. He did not think the art was useful to anyone because it did not yield bunches of money.
    I did have some luck as an artist after he left and once the divorce became final I found that I could not paint for a few months. I was painting to spite everyone and when that was removed I wondered why I was still painting. I recovered from that thinking when some Galleries came knocking.
    NowI am just tired, but still painting.

  62. Growing up, I never really considered being an artist because I was taught it was one of those “dicey” careers. The option just wasn’t on the table. And that was fine ~ I was doing other things anyway. It wasn’t until adulthood that I made the choice to reject what I had been taught and just go for it. So glad I did.

  63. My father always wanted me to be a musician, like he was. I was more drawn to the fine arts & crafts. I really wanted to go to college for art but, was discouraged. Art was not considered a realistic/secure way to make a living. I went on to business school & studied some fashion merchandising. I do understand why my art decision wasn’t popular with my mother. So much of it has to do with the era I was raised in & she wanted me to survive & prosper, better than she had. My mother had 3 choices in life; mother, nurse or secretary. I understand why she wanted me to go to college for other things, but art has everything to do with life. The designs of cars, gardens, architecture, fashion, etc. cannot be accomplished without artists. Everyone wants jewelry to wear, ceramics to drink from, a custom jewelry box for their jewels, an amazing painting to hang over their mantel or a custom metal gate for their driveway or garden. I’ve always felt that artists are important since I was a child & have had to fight for it. I now own an art gallery that just turned 17 years old in Flagstaff, AZ! We survived the recession & I hope to be in business for many more years, so in some weird way, it all turned out! I am so happy that I stuck to my beliefs! I knew it in my heart! We started in a very small space, 300 square feet & now have over 2000.sq ft. on a much busier street & so far, so good! Fingers crossed!

  64. I have one more thing to say. Artists are artists. It’s something we are, like LGBTs are what they are. You can’t change that! We are what we are! Now, how do we go about getting others to accept us & understand how important this is?

  65. I grew up in houses filled with inherited art . My family was extremely appreciative of the art but no one felt they had the skills to be an artist. Whistler. and Patrick Henry Bruce were both relatives of ours. When I showed an interest by painting on my own on oil at age seven my parents very quickly found a teacher for me. Not the typical school tempera and watercolor but oils…..they could not have been more supportive …..

  66. I grew up in houses filled with inherited art . My family was extremely appreciative of the art but no one felt they had the skills to be an artist. Whistler. and Patrick Henry Bruce were both relatives of ours. When I showed an interest by painting on my own in oil at age seven my parents very quickly found a teacher for me. Not the typical school tempera and watercolor but oils…..they could not have been more supportive …..

  67. I was not supported. My mother considered her brother, her father and my brother the true artists. I spent many years being depressed as creating art is the only thing that gave me joy and peace. For the last few years when my mom visited she would tell me my hobby was cute and how sad it was the my brother the artist wasn’t doing anything with his gift. In the last 2 years working on self esteem and fulfilling my life’s dreams I no longer care what she says which is ironic because now she thinks my art is good. I feel very blessed to have this blog to come to for encouragement. Thank you Jason for all the awesome information and encouragement you give to us and thank you all for the advise you share.

  68. Art for the sake of aesthetic appreciation was considered too trivial for the cause for which I was put upon this earth…to “reach the world for God.” Dad-a devout preacher. Mom a devout follower. My siblings and I lemmings but not necessarily by choice. Now, when I do art, I do it for me and only me…just for the aesthetic appreciation…and I love it! I don’t display it, share it, or sell it any longer. Dad passed a decade ago and Mom has learned to appreciate my talents and skills, calling it a gift. The gift is knowing she appreciates what I do, even if in her heart she still finds it trivial…and the hope that Dad sees it from where he is now, slaps his forehead, and says, “Now I get it!”

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