"...one time when I told someone “I’m going to art school”, they replied: “that’s too expensive, just take classes at the community college. Art isn't practical."
All the sudden my mom came out of nowhere, chewed them out right there, and fiercely told them,”Don’t you EVER tell her she can’t do art!” It was intense and I didn’t understand why she was so aggressive towards the person, but today i do ..."
Girls Should Never Be Afraid To Be smART
Growing up, when I explained to people that I wanted to be an artist as a career choice, I never understood why I always got these responses like “that’s interesting“, but the kids who replied they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer got praise. When I am invited to speak places about my passion for art, I always share how it wasn’t until college that I realized how oblivious I was to the fact that a large number of people thought Art to be impractical & “not smart” as a professional pursuit. People always chuckle that I didn’t get that memo. But honestly, I remember the first time a crowds laughter interrupted that confession at a conference & how even more confused I was mid-message by how that was funny? I wasnt telling a joke. It apparently is a big reality that everyone accepts this idea that art isn’t “smart”, but after looking at the statistics for our future economy, Im glad I was never taught such a concept.
I was raised in poverty by a single mother with an extremely high IQ who overcame circumstances & graduated nursing school with a 4.0. She is so extremely intelligent, she never hung out with nurses but always was friends with all the doctors & their wives. It’s funny looking back now how we had these rich doctors & their families over for dinner in our modest quaint lower ecionomic status home & they’d all be talking about medicine. My mom is passionate about her craft. And she is so stinking smart. But I was never pressured to go into medicine. My mom passionately praised my dreams to pursue art ever since I could hold a crayon. In fact I remember one time when I told someone “I’m going to art school”& they replied “that’s too expensive. Art isn't practical.” And all the sudden my mom came out of nowhere, chewed them out right there, and fiercely told them,”Don’t you EVER tell her she can’t do art!” It was intense & I didn’t understand why she was so aggressive towards the person, but today i do & it’s my most appreciated memory & one that I’ll never forget because of the impression it’s made on me about the real belief my mom has always had in my dreams & abilities. Today, I still really have no concept of art being a bad choice. And I’m glad because it created room for my passion to grow & take root, as well as grateful, because I later learned not all kids had such protection for their dreams.
Unlike many of my peers, I never pursued “practical” for practicalities sake. I don’t even think I was taught those ideas. Sadly, many of my peers never became that doctor or lawyer they talked about becoming because the majority of them chose the pursuit to be “smart” but got burned out halfway through & started over. They realized how much of their lives they’d be spending doing something they had such little passion for & changed course or worse, never use their degree & work a lower paying job that requires no college degree & aren’t happy. I remember how shocking the conversations I had in college with peers about how kids weren’t allowed to pursue art or got cut off financially because they pursued art solely on the basis that art isn’t “smart”. Today-this still happens & im still bewildered because if “smart”=“money” there are a million creative jobs that make well over 6 figures & it’s not just for those 1-in-a-million people who make it!There is a massive employment need in our society for those who’s hearts beat creatively! So many tech jobs & engineering & design & fine art jobs! This dated & uneducated stigma that art isn’t “smart” is holding our economy back & our youth! And it’s so untrue + completely misinformed.
The stories I could share of conversations & experiences on how I’ve seen this stigma around art blind so many & cripple the potential of not only those who really are gifted but of a society who also really needs these gifted people to be properly trained + developed! I remember this one time back in college how baffled I was when someone told me they didn’t realize I was pursuing a real bachelors degree just because I was going to art school! Like what!? Or the classic “I wish my homework was art & had to color all day.” Did you know our art homework was like coding 3 different websites from scratch as well as 50 paintings-all due in 2 days-to teach us the reality of mass production & demand? “Shoot, I wish I had your chemistry homework & got to sleep” is how I’d reply. You’re taught to be innovative, cutting edge, relevant in not just all typical softwares but also all design softwares & the resources to continue to stay up to date on developing innovation so we wouldn’t be beat out of a job by our competition. Did you know Art school taught me how to code? Yes I know how to code HTML & CSS, which means I know how to build websites & programs & video games & design logos, I know how to make movies & magazines, how to weld, how to run & grow a business+marketing, how to build furniture & design products- everything from a car to a plane to a house, I studied aero dynamics in what makes a plane structure fly, learned the math& science & practice of how to make my own paint, tools, paper& canvas! I was trained to be able to take literal sticks & cardboard & pigments from flowers & make paintbrushes & a canvas & a painting, as well as how to construct all my own tools from wood, metal,& fabric. What didnt I learn at art school? Today the majority of people in Forbes Magazine have some type of creative innovative trait. Why? Bc Innovation is the silver bullet that drives our economy. Yet art isn’t “smart”? And parents still force kids away from creative jobs bc it’s not “smart”? How is it “smart” to spend 8 hours or more everyday of your life doing what you weren’t created to do? Bc of $? You know Steve Jobs & Bill Gates were technology ARTisans right? That the iPhone your holding or computer your sitting at are products designed by an artist & the app your on right now was coded by an ARTIST right? The stigma that art isn’t “smart” is a severely uneducated concept & quite frankly I’m over being politically correct about it.
I’m so tired of hearing the stigma that passion isn’t practical & that art isn’t “smart”! I’m so tired of talking to girls who are so talented but parents are forcing them to pursue a status quo instead of encouraging them to develop their craft so they can be equipped to contribute their visions & innovation to society. Let me speak candidly- my house, car, & income in my 20s looks far different (& by different, I mean better) than many of my peers who pursued “practical”. And I went to art school! And the best part? I actually LOVE everything I do! When people ask me my hobbies or what I do for fun, I say I have none because I already do what I love 24/7. I’ve learned that the people that are best in field & produce quality & success are always creative & passionate about what they do! Why? Bc people pay big bucks for quality+innovation & it’s passion- love for your craft- that’s the golden fuel getting people there. I’m so glad I was raised to become the best I could be at what I LOVED, not forced to be mediocre at the status quo for practicality’s sake! What was “smart” 10 years ago, isn’t so “smart” anymore.
It just needs to be said- what’s not “smart” is forcing youth to do what’s safe or what has worked in the past in such a rapidly changing, creatively innovative dominant economy! The jobs that made 5-6 figures 10 years ago are being replaced by more creative innovative jobs that will be of the highest pursuit in the next 5 years! Don’t believe me? Google the average salary of a registered nurse (one of the top leading occupations pursued today) & then google the average salary for an interaction designer or a product designer or a video game designer or a creative director or architect to name a few. Then Google “highest paying job in 2025” & you’ll find #1 to be “App Developer”. Creativity is in high demand & rapidly growing. According to a study by STEAM, a credible source on the research of the need for implementation of art + design in America’s current education system,“Art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century.” The numbers are different than 10 years ago. The opportunities are different. The need is different. And the realities are different. The future is creative & creative is what’s “smart”. Thus- Let’s get rid of the dated + uneducated stigma that “art isn’t smart” & instead encourage our youth to be creative geniuses because that’s how we achieve innovation. Passion & creativity are the keys to success- may we never be afraid to pursue them for that’s what endures. May we never be afraid to be smART!