Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

Ever since I started school, I have been one of the best students in fine arts and have won prizes for a lot of my paintings. Next year will be my last year of high school, and my art teacher has been encouraging me to apply for scholarships to art institutes. She is confident that I’ll get one.

Meanwhile, my parents are against my becoming a painter. They’re both doctors and they say art isn’t a real vocation — nobody makes a living at it, and I’ll starve.

I have always dreamed of becoming an artist. What shall I do?


Dear Torn,

Would you ask Eskimos for advice if you wanted to move to Hawaii? If you wanted to become a doctor, would you go to art galleries and ask the painters about the medical profession?

Your parents clearly love you and want the best for you, but when it comes to choosing your career path, the best advisors are people who have demonstrated success in the same field. In this case, professional fine artists.

Assuming you can garner a full scholarship to an art institute and are coming of age, you have the right and responsibility to take charge of your own life. You may be embarking on a road fraught with obstacles, and going against your parents’ advice means not asking them to come to your rescue if the going gets tough.

As to art as a vocation . . . the word vocation comes from the Latin verb vocāre, which means ‘to call.” I believe every person’s calling comes from a higher power. Though your parents may have been put on this earth to practice medicine, it appears that you may have been put here to paint.

So, arm yourself for success by meeting as many successful professional mentors as possible and taking their advice seriously. Don’t neglect to learn the business aspects of the art world, and learn to handle money wisely, knowing that you’ll likely start your career in circumstances that are humbler than those you were raised in.

While you’re at it, master some commercially viable artistic skills as well because you may need to pick up “work-for-hire” freelance commissions as a sideline to your more profound artistic expressions.

Here’s to a wonderful summer, a spectacular senior year and your adventures beyond graduation!


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