“So I have to ask, what are you going to do once you graduate?”
As an arts major, variations of this question will spring up like flowers all throughout your college career. The cons of being a fine art major can be obvious to some, but the pros will prove intriguing once explored. So, let’s get exploring.
It’s no mystery why fine arts majors are frowned upon. In such a competitive industry it’s hard to find a steady income after graduation. While trying to navigate my way through these strict majors, I’ve realized that certain majors only allow creativity when it comes to projects. For example, when I was a business major, I found myself learning about concepts that I was unable to physically test unless the professor created a project or case study around the concept. Therefore, I completely understand why students go with their heart and major in art, dance, music or theatre.
There are multiple avenues that can be taken as an art major, but I will discuss three: grinding through your craft and trying to make it big as an artist; pursuing something different when you graduate, like medical school or law school, or pursuing a job that will help fund your artistic endeavors. Regardless, through personal branding, you will achieve some level of success.
Pursuing your craft can come with bumps, but nothing is unachievable. As an artist, you have to be prepared to struggle, to not be seen and to learn from mistakes. It’s similar to being in a regular job, but you have more control over how much you are paid. You will need the connections you made in your undergraduate years to hear about new opportunities, but overall you will spend a ton of time with yourself. You will spend a lot of alone time thinking and creating new concepts and ways of executing art pieces. According to the 2015 report by Payscale, arts majors make an average salary of $52,000. This means there’s money ready to be made. Society is simply in need of determined artists to do something different, so if this avenue is for you, begin creating.
Art majors have the freedom to be creative while building technical skills like communication, the ability to work under pressure, time management, self-motivation and adaptability, which can be translated into the workforce. It’s safe to say that regardless of your major, you will still gain qualities and skills that make you a promising employee. Law schools and medical schools look for academically diverse students, meaning that although it looks great if you have taken law classes and pre-med classes, the institutes want students who not only know about law and the body but are also able to think outside the box and be creative. These institutes want innovators who can possibly change the game. According to Duke University, what you major in doesn’t matter as much as factors like GPA and (for law school) your LSAT score. So if this is your avenue, watch how shocked people are going to be after you answer that degrading question on what you’re going to do after graduation.
While both working and pursuing your craft might be tiring, you eliminate the worry that comes with only pursuing your craft — instability. You also sacrifice creative time when working, but if you manage your time and energy wisely, you have nothing to worry about. Most people find comfort in this avenue because they get the best of both worlds, but you might find yourself longing to live the artist life and end up hating your job.
Arts majors get flack for something that doesn’t really matter if you are smart with your time. As a student you are forced and pressured to pick a major, and once you do, you are judged. Anyone is capable of anything, no matter declared major or prior interests. If you ever find yourself judging an art major, think twice because that might be your doctor or lawyer one day.
Yssaina Nelson is a UF exploratory freshman.