8Can You Make a Living as an Artist or Musician?

One of our favorite things in life is discovering that a friend or colleague has a hidden artistic passion or talent. It is like peeking into a hidden world when you watch your marketing manager on television singing at a national barbershop quartet competition or you discover that one of your mild-mannered software developers has self-published several science-fiction adventure novels. Not all of us have such artistic talent and passion, but there are far more people who possess it than earn their living from it. Art, for all its profound beauty, is not the easiest route to a fat bank account or a good health care plan. Not many artists are as fortunate as Travis Barker, the successful drummer from Blink-182, who deliberately tattooed his neck so that his prospects for getting a “real job” would be so low that he would be forced to embrace music as his only living. We hope that this chapter will give you and your teen some ways of thinking about artistic careers that do not require such drastic measures.

If you are reading this chapter, we are assuming your teen has serious aspirations to pursue art as a career. We are using the word art to encompass many different artistic fields, including design, drawing, painting, writing, photography, music, acting, and theater. We are also assuming you are in one of two situations, or maybe both. The first is that you want to help your child understand the realistic challenges in attempting ...

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