Don't be an artist

Completely 100% unrealted to Vex, but highly personal to me (IE why I ditched animation).

Get an engineering degree, don’t be an artist. No matter how passionate you are about it, work a real job, make real money, follow your passion in your spare time.

Same applies to game development, graphic design, web design, etc. You must be irreplaceable in this new economy or you will get steamrolled by automation or screwed due to the number of people fighting for your job position.

The day people stop deciding to be artists, etc. for their career will be a sad day.

Sorry but I 100% disagree with this. It’s one thing to say the balance between STEM professionals and art/etc. professionals is not ideal, but to say as a blanket statement that all people should just not pursue a form of art as a career is worrisome and detrimental to society.

Finally, I’m not sure what business this has being on the VEX forum, so perhaps this thread should just be closed and removed.

I disagree. I’m already making and selling the occasional print here and there, but at least it’s a start. If you have the talent and dedication and the inspiration, go for art, it’s worth a shot. But I disagree with this post 100%. Not to bring politics in to this, but as an american citizen, you have almost no chance of getting a job as an engineer. Almost all of Silicon valley in particular are people on non-immigrant worker visas who have good degrees but work more hours for less pay. From the company’s view, why hire an American with a Masters degree when you could hire someone from China with a PhD that will work more for less money? If you want to be an engineer, my best advice is to not live in California. But don’t tell people that they shouldn’t be something.

@artsy.andrew there are lots of American engineers. To state that there are not many engineering jobs out there for Americans is a very miss informed statement.

@Cody I happen to know a few professional artists. One of them specializes in patent drawings and he does just fine. He has been doing just fine for a number of years. Another one specializes in art for ad campaigns. Over the years, his methods have changed along with the technology but you still need the artist to make it look right. Both of these are men that have been at it for decades. Another artist I know moved from Indiana to Florida and she sales paintings. Her work is in several galleries throughout southern Florida. She is in her late 20s or early 30s. I have known her since she was a young child. She has pursued her dream and is making a living. She studied business in college and it is that business sense that has helped her to be successful.

The point is, there are still careers in art and in engineering as well as many other things. I also know a guy who got his engineering degree from MIT. After a few years as an engineer, he got his MBA and he has a successful career as a business consultant and no longer is an engineer. There are a lot of career paths available. Go with those things at which you are good and about which you have some passion.

I completely agree, a basic income would fix that, but in our current economic situation I cannot faithfully recommend nor encourage anyone to pursue a field or degree program that does not put them in an economically stable situation.

These people (IE VFX artists working three months in a row) are essentially slaves, especially the ones who have racked up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. They are quite literally indentured servants.

It’s in the general forum, and related to those looking to start their education / career.

Zero meaningful substance in this so far…

This isn’t political, those are facts. Which we can test!

Google is 57% white, 37% Asian, etc. this seems to mirror what I see. I genuinely believe that American schools typically are actually producing better equipped people for these companies, better able to cope with the needs of these American based companies.

I / even we on this forum have seen that certain other countries create populations more willing to copy and in some cases cheat their way to success as opposed to working together and challenging the norm.

Also, tech companies globally are actually starving for workers. It’s a growing industry.

That requires engineering skills, which is why he’s ok.

This is a crappy cutout from a Netflix documentary talking about the NFL and how stupid it is to aspire to become a pro football player:

It’s a game of statistics. Even if one person does kind of sort of make it by, how many thousands don’t even get that? With degrees becoming both necessary to enter a craft and potentially crushingly financial burdens, as well as automation pitting more and more people against each other for less and less jobs (which my field is probably the most responsible for IMHO), I don’t think we have the luxury of sending ourselves (or our children) to college for underwater basket-weaving / theology / criminal justice / etc.

So I’m going to stand by my (typical) unpopular, controversial, whatever-ism claim: Don’t pursue art as a primary means of income.

You are free to completely discard this piece of unsolicited advice from a stranger and do whatever you want, it’s merely my own two cents.

I’m super glad I didn’t pursue the animation angle, and let’s be frank, I was / am extremely good at it. Not only did I further my mental exploration in a much more serious degree program but I am almost surely going to be better off financially and more respected for completing my CS degree in ten weeks here.

I may very well return to this passion and use those skills, but I…

  • Didn’t cost myself money acquiring those skills at college
  • Didn’t burden myself with having to make money to justify the time I spent learning those skills
  • Don’t depend on a job in the industry for which those skills are practiced and therefore don’t have to subject myself to the competitive nature / cost cutting measures of that industry
  • Get to actually enjoy the craft as I am free to practice it as I please

That last one being particularly important.

I actually want to go farther, yes I understand the knee jerk reaction to being told “you can’t be X” or “you shouldn’t become Y”, it eats at our illusion of freedom and of course the notion of the middle class dream.

But we live in reality. Pragmatism has real advantage in reality.

You, whether you like it or not, have needs out of your career. You need your career to at the very least give you the means to survive. But most of us want more. I certainly do. I want to drive a Tesla, date attractive women, start a family, buy expensive CNC machines, have that flashy new gadget, etc.

You likely do too. If you don’t, fine - go away, stop listening to this thread or anything I ever say - it isn’t going to help you because it isn’t for you, it’s for people who I assume are like me and want a similar life (yes a bit of projection, I know).

If you want those things, the writing is on the wall, go hit up the Bureau of Statistics and Labor where you will find the hard truth that a… let’s say:

Graphic Designer


$46,900 per year / $22.55 per hour

with a…

Bachelor’s degree

with a …

Job Outlook, 2014-24 1% (Little or no change)

whereas a…

Software Developer


$100,690 per year
$48.41 per hour

with a…

Bachelor’s degree

with a …

Job Outlook, 2014-24 17% (Much faster than average)

I agree yet disagree… If nobody chooses to become an artist, then the need will increase, which inclines that most probably the pay will increase in order to become an artist. Another thing, we must realize that we shouldn’t care about money, but rather more than the job that we most like. Would you work at a job you don’t like and earn huge pay, or work at a job you love doing, and earn little pay? There’s some that think that it’s all about money, but others consider a more fun job in order to have a fun life even at a reasonable payment.

But yet again, in order to increase the pay, we must have less people working on that job. After, the expectations and need for an artist will increase, allowing higher payments. This can be a good thing, but people will realize this opportunity in the future and the payments will lower again.

In my personal opinion, I don’t care how much money I earn, but the most fun and most fitting for me. Because if you are having fun, then you won’t even realize you are working, and yet you are earning some mighty good pay. I am happy if I get 50,000 a year, if it’s a job that I love. 50,000 is practically average pay of americans, so it’s not truly bad too…

I might be the only one, seeing the reaction in the comments, but I completely agree

I think these recommendations all hinge on where your talents lie. If a person is a great artist but can’t do algebra, he or she will never be an engineer. But if a person happens to be very lucky and be a great artist and talented in STEM, he or she has a choice.

I have a team member that is trying to chose between STEM and music. I told him that I had similar choices when going into college. My conclusion was that I could be an engineer with a music hobby but couldn’t easily be a musician with an engineering hobby. Plus, the higher salary and job security of engineering could enable that lifestyle. Same with art versus engineering. You could always be an engineer to pay the bills but do art on the side and continue to enjoy art for the rest of your life.

However, that is not to say that a person should chose a career solely based on the starting salary. It would be a miserable life to be in a career “just because.” Chose your career based on what you’re talented in and interested in.

I forcefully disagree that all engineers in the US are foreign. This may be true in some areas (like Silicon Valley) but in defense there is cutting edge technology being developed. These jobs are closed to non-US citizens. There are PLENTY of jobs for US citizens. This should not deter anyone from going into engineering.

Having been through college and the job search my response to this would be that job availability for any field depends on the market you are in.

The Freakanomics podcast recently addressed this fairly well, If you are passionate about being an artist then be prepared to move to where the market is, don’t let people tell you it’s absolutely impossible, because that’s entirely in your hands.

link to pod cast:

I admire your passion, I was the same way, then I found expensive hobbies :confused:

I generally disagree and think blanket statements like this are unproductive. A better way of saying it would be: “Don’t expect being a successful artist to be easy, or that a job will be available where you live.”

I see the sentiment @Cody is trying to display here: that going into an art based career is a bad investment, especially here in the U.S. where there’s no such thing as taxpayer-supported college (and prospects of it being less likely), however, I disagree with the fact that ‘everyone’ should get an engineering degree. Engineering is mainly, from my perspective, a mindset, and one which is easier to adopt by some than others. This does not mean that I’m saying only some people have the ability to become engineers. No, everyone can get into the right mindset, and have to right knowledge base to be a successful engineer (I’m including software developers in this term). My advice to you is: figure out what your good at, or what you love to do, and then come up with a way you can sustain off of it. But be strategic, your income opportunities in one area will be higher than in another.

Art is vital to our human experience. There will always be a place for artists.

There will also always be people willing to starve for the sake of being an artist. Thank God for these people.

#$teAmworks ftw…
Sorry I’ve been spending too much time at FRC.

We all have…