The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

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My B.A. is not BS

Art+majors+are+constantly+subjected+to+questions+like+whats+your+backup+plan%3F+and+how+are+you+going+to+make+any+money%3F%E2%80%9D%0A
Matthew Price
Art majors are constantly subjected to questions like “what’s your backup plan?” and “how are you going to make any money?”

I’d like to make one thing clear — despite what some people think, I have put a lot of thought into what I’d like my major to be. And SHOCKINGLY, I’m still confident in my choice. After much deliberation, I’m going to be (drum roll, please)…AN ARTS MAJOR!

Alright, ask. Go ahead, ask! I know you’re thinking it — everyone does.

Am I aware of how competitive it is? Yes. Although it wasn’t months of auditions and rejections that made me aware — it was you asking. Right now. Thank you!

Do I realize how little money there is to be made in the arts? You know, even though it totally would have made sense for me to choose this career for that famously unstoppable cash flow, weirdly enough, I didn’t.

And then, finally. The crushing blow.

What’s my backup plan?

I understand the reason that you ask. Really, I do. I know you only ask because you care about me. You want to make sure I’m aware of all my choice entails — moving from job to job, never being sure where my next paycheck will come from, rejection after rejection, and of course, dying of malnutrition and shame alone on the street (the apparently inescapable fate of any Bachelor of Arts, at least according to some).

Trust me, I’ve heard it all. But no matter how good your intentions, never ask an arts major what their backup plan is. I know what you think you’re saying: “How can you guarantee success?” However, I hear something else: “What will you do once you fail?”

Despite how it may appear thus far, I am not writing this out of spite. Although I am unapologetically snarky and sarcastic, I am not resentful. Like I said, I know you mean well! Instead, I am writing this to ask something of you. If you know someone who wants to pursue the arts, be it a friend, siblings, student, son or daughter, you must change your vernacular.

Think about it this way — how would you feel if you told someone your intended major and their response was, “Great! And once that all crash and burns? Once you realize you’ve made the wrong choice, what will you do then?”

Although I know the “backup plan” question is born of genuine concern, please understand how disheartening it can be to a prospective artist. It’s questions like this that steer kids away from pursuing what they love. Because “it’s really just more of a hobby.” Because “so few people actually succeed.” Because “that’s not where the money is.” These ideas are pounded into young artists harder and louder the older they get, until it becomes impossible to hear anything but “you can’t.”

We must instill confidence in young artists. We must stop pressuring them to quit before they even begin to try. We must stop tearing them down and start building them up. The only reason some of us become art majors is because the strength of our passion was able to withstand torrent after torrent of these thinly veiled insults, as well as every caustic interrogation full of unsolicited pity and stinging doubt. This should not be.

As artists, we love to discuss the things we are passionate about. By no means am I telling you to stop asking us questions about what we do. But let your questions be born of real interest and free of nasty subtext. Instead of asking for a backup plan, ask an artist what they plan to do with their degree. Instead of asking if they’re “sure,”  ask them why they want to pursue their art. I’m sure their response will answer your original question and then some.

So let’s rewind. Try this again.

Hi. I’m going to be an arts major. Any questions?

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The student news publication of Libertyville High School
My B.A. is not BS