Jacob’s a tortured artist — and he hasn’t really even started being an artist yet! I imagine his situation and mindset are not uncommon, though, for art students about to jump into the professional world.
Hi Judge Josh,
I am at a crucial moment in my educational life. I will graduate next semester with a BFA in Fine Arts with a concentration of Illustration from UConn.
Frankly, I am terrified. Sometimes when I think about my future, I mentally shut down.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, so do I and so does everyone else from time to time, so you’re not alone!
In the summer between junior and senior year, I received the option to pursue an apprenticeship in tattooing. He wanted $1000 up front in cash. After considering my options, I backed out, not only knowing that I probably wouldn’t succeed in keeping my grade up amidst the constant commute between school and the tattoo studio, but it just seemed really shady to me.
Well, I couldn’t say for sure whether the dude himself was shady or not, but apprenticeships are fairly common in the tattoo world.
Since then I have been trying to make up my mind as to what direction I want to pursue outside of college. A large part of me is still opting toward a tattoo apprenticeship.
Well, the trend of tattooing the living shit of ourselves here in America does not seem to be stopping anytime soon, so I don’t think that’s a bad decision if it’s something you think you’ll enjoy.
I’ll be out of school, and will be able to devote myself to the task.
True, and outstanding. Sounds like a great start.
However, I feel as if that trade won’t exemplify the skills I have picked up in school.
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t (it probably will, but let’s just leave it open for now). You have to ask yourself what your objective is in your career — to do something you enjoy and get paid well for it, or to display all the skills you’ve learned.
If that sounds biased — well, it is. Most people don’t end up with a job that shows their full array of skills that they learned in college. It just doesn’t end up that way most of the time.
The good news is…that’s fine. No big deal. I don’t mean to oversimplify, but hey, if you like what you’re doing and it pays the bills, then that’s a fine situation to be in. Most people don’t have it that good.
I can tell you this from experience, because I’ve done the same thing you’re considering. I have a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri — a program LOTS of prospective journalists wish they could get into. And since the day I graduated, I’ve used the skills they’ve taught me — well, almost never. I jumped to online stuff, then software, then advertising, and now it’s college-advice blogging for God’s sake.
Doesn’t matter. As long as you’re happy doing it, then hell, who cares what you went to school for? Sometimes the value of school isn’t the exact stuff you learn, but the fact that it puts you in the right place at the right time.
Secondly, it feels somehow unprofessional. Given the popularity of Kat Von D in today’s media, I may be wrong about that assertion.
Well, Kat Von D is just the latest example of the world’s changed mindset about tattoos; the real story is the mindset itself. And that is, they’re extremely normal now — they aren’t the symbols of rebellion that they used to be. Tats stopped being rebellious about the time that sorority girls started getting their letters tattooed on their ankles.
The other idea which seems less financially secure but more palatable is to push my illustration talents into the publishing field, painting book jackets or illustrating for picture books.
Tattooing is probably less competitive than that, but that’s really the only comparison I can make. Artistically, they both have merit and which has more is up to you, completely.[ad#cj-fastweb]
However, I feel that this doesn’t quite fit what I really want to do, which I have yet to discover. The only thing I know is that it has to do with art. I guess my problem is not having a concrete plan for the next several years.
Hey man — neither do most people. Really — they don’t. Your plan should probably be something like this: get a job, see if I like it, start dabbling in other stuff on the side, see if I like that stuff, and then in a few years, choose what I like best and go forward a happier dude.
And that’s not just for art people, by the way. That’s everyone’s story, pretty much.
It’s shocking to know that in a year, I won’t be in school, and wonder what I will be doing and where I will be. Hopefully living in my parents attic, I certainly don’t want that fate.
I think you meant hopefully not living in the attic, but yeah, hopefully not. But if you do — eh, you’re not alone. Just keep plugging away until you get out. It won’t be the end of the world. Plus, the attic probably has really low rent.
And I don’t want to get caught working at the job i’ve had since high school; that won’t do neither. I’ve thought about the Peace Corps, to give me some more time, but I just feel like I don’t know why I’m on this earth yet. My purpose has no aim, my wings no wind to power them. The more I write the more confused I get. . .I’d appreciate any help you can offer. I think about this every night now; my palms sweat because I’m facing my future like a knight staring down a dragon, except instead of a sword I have a feather duster. I just can’t figure myself out, and its alarming.
Honestly, any help in hashing this question will earn you my gratitude and an internet high five.
Well, I am all about a good Internet high-five. 🙂
You’re overthinking it, my friend. Sure, it’d feel nice to have a road map at your feet to follow, but you know — that’s not really an artist’s life, generally speaking. And even if it were, you’d be extremely lucky to have that kinda thing mapped out at this point, at your age.
This is an old metaphor, but it’s true: if you’re taking a trip across the country, you don’t wait to leave until all the stoplights are green at the same time. You just go. And when you get stopped, you stop, and you figure something out, and then you keep going. I wouldn’t generally steer a guy away from the Peace Corps, but really — if you’re just looking to buy time, you might as well take an entry-level job and make some money while you wait.
If you have talent and desire (and to a lesser extent, a degree), you’re not holding a feather duster. You’ve got the sword. You just have to figure out where you’re gonna use it, and that can take time.
But you’ve got plenty. Be patient, and you’ll find some answers.
— What about you guys? Any advice for a struggling artist? Let us know in the comments below.