Art students are, contrary to popular belief, not the self tortured, paint eating, delusional specters of martyrdom that people most often assume them to be. Sure, those kind of artists are indeed alive and well and out in the wild, but, in this case, art majors can refer to anyone concentrating on some creative study. This includes design students, illustration students, animation students, and even self -teaching artists.
Now that we’ve established what art students are, let’s establish what you should never say to them.
1. “Your major sounds so fun/easy.”
Courtesy of: Zombiesmile
“Being an art major sounds like so much fun.”
“You’re so lucky, you get to draw all day.”
“You have so much free time, you’re so lucky.”
“That’s so easy.”
No one likes hearing that their specialty is easy – especially when that specialty actually takes years, tears, and a couple of beers’ worth of hard work.
What you could say instead: “Your major sounds like fun, but I know it must be a lot harder than it seems!” or “I wish I could study art, but I know not just anybody could do it.”
2. “Have fun finding a job.”
Courtesy of: Hey Luchie
“That starving artist life huh?”
“That’s what you want to do? I mean, sure, if you don’t want to be successful or financially stable.”
“Well I liked art as a hobby but I chose to do _____ because I wanted to be successful”
“There’s no money in that.”
Why would you assume that the art/design industry is dry of jobs? Of course, it’s one of the most competitive industries out there, but just because it’s hard to get a job in a creative field doesn’t mean you should patronize somebody for choosing that field. Full offense but patronizing somebody for choosing an “unconventional” career path (even though there are hundreds of thousands of companies, jobs, and industries that hire for creative positions) is ignorant and unnecessary.
What you could say instead: “It’s going to be difficult breaking into your industry, but that’s how it is for any job nowadays. Good luck!”
3. “Hey, draw ______.”
“Hey, can you draw ME?”
“Hey you should draw _____!”
We know you mean well. We really do, but every well meaning bystander who demands that your drawing skills are meant to capture everyone’s self fulfilling portraiture dreams has probably never drawn a thing in their whole life.
What you could say instead: “do you take requests/commissions?”
4. “I don’t want to pay for art.”
Courtesy of: N.C. Winters
“Wow these commission prices are…pretty high.”
“I’m your friend/family, can I get a discount?”
“Can’t I get it for FREE?”
Before you get all up in arms about overpriced commission prices ask yourself: can you do it yourself? If not, how much time and energy do you think the task would take? And if you can’t estimate that, how much skill and training do you think it would take to finish it at all?
What you could say instead: NOTHING. Nothing at all. If an artist doesn’t offer some kind of friend/family discount up front, then they likely expect full price.
5. “You’ll get paid in exposure.”
Courtesy of: Matthew Iwman
“Just do it for free, it’ll get your name out there.”
“You’ll get paid in exposure.”
As the comic implies, exposure doesn’t pay jack. If you’re good at something, never do it for free. And if people have the time to demand that you work for them for free, they have time to go hire a less experienced, less skilled designer to do the job for them.
What you could say instead: “Exposure’s great for resume building, but you should ask for further payment.”
6. “My work SUCKS compared to yours.”
Courtesy of: Jenny Jinya
“Your art is so good, and my art SUCKS.”
“My work is SO BAD compared to yours.”
“I’ll never be as good as you.”
This is actually for fellow artists and learning artists alike: it is not encouraging to call yourself terrible in praise of somebody else. It only makes people uncomfortable, and it verges on guilt-tripping them into feeling sorry for you. Don’t do that. Not only is comparing yourself to others just personally detrimental for yourself, it also doesn’t make other artists feel good.
What you could say instead: “I hope to improve like you someday!”
7. “I wish I had your natural talent.”
Courtesy of: Anna Syvertsson
“I wish I had your natural talent.”
“You’re lucky you have natural talent.”
What you could say instead: “You’re very hard working.” “It must have taken a lot of time and training to become this skilled.”
8. “Your work looks like ______’s art.”
Courtesy of: Cookiekhaleesi
“Oh hey that looks like _____”
“That reminds me of ______’s work”
What you could say instead: anything about the work as an individual piece, not in comparison to something else.
9. “You study art? But you’re so smart.”
Courtesy of: Sarah Anderson
“You were so smart in high school, why go into art?”
“You were so good at math and science, what made you choose art?”
“You want to study art? What about [insert alternative career options]”
What you could say instead: “You study art?” That’s it. That’s literally all you have to say.
10. “So you the next Picasso?”
Courtesy of: Kelly Bastow
“You the next Walt Disney?”
“You the next Picasso?”
“You the next Michaelangelo?”
“You the next-”
What you could say instead: “I think you’ll do great things someday.” or “do you take any inspiration from [insert name of famous figure in industry]?”
11. “Why are you at a public university?”
“If you’re an art student, why are you at a public university?”
“Why aren’t you at private art school?”
“Why didn’t you go to RISD/SAIC/CalARTS/etc.?”
This actually isn’t applicable for a lot of people because most art students actually attend some kind of private art school. I don’t. I hate to remind people that I did apply and get into schools like SCAD and SAIC, but not everybody has the means or money to move all the way up north and pay over $50k a year. My decision to attend a public university was my decision, swayed by a duty to help my family and strongly influenced by my parents’ anxiety with these larger schools, but it was nonetheless my decision. To look down on this choice is, well, calloused, rude, and pretentious.
What you could say instead: “What made you choose this school?”
12. “But people don’t NEED art.”
Courtesy of: Make Good Art by Zen Comics
“Art and entertainment are the first thing people forget about when people hit hard times.”
“Aren’t you worried you’ll be forgotten in the future?”
“Not everyone enjoys art the way you do.”
Man, if you say this IN REAL LIFE, why are you even talking to art students? Go back to your cave hole, Jim. Let the rest of us enjoy museums and movies and stuff.
What you could say instead: “I guess I’ll forfeit watching TV, watching movies, playing video games, wearing clothes, living in buildings, looking at magazines, seeing advertisements, or using or consuming anything that wouldn’t exist without artists or designers.” Or nothing at all.