Artists Life- Fantasy vs Reality

Artists Life- Fantasy vs Reality

The Life of an Artist – Fantasy versus Reality

The life of an artist often conjures up images of bohemian lifestyle of freedom, late nights painting and drinking into the wee hours, glamorous gallery openings, and a steady stream of inspiration leading to the creation of masterpieces. The reality is often far from this romanticized vision. A professional artist wears many hats. Accountant, sale person, customer service, production manager, procurement of supplies, janitor. Each of these, a full time job in itself. They often work long hours, alone as they begin their career until they can afford assistants to help with the tasks. This poses many a challenge where discipline plays an important role.
This blog will delve into the dichotomy of reality versus fantasy in the life of an artist, shedding light on the truths behind the myths.

Fantasy: Endless Inspiration and Effortless Creativity

The Myth: Artists are constantly inspired, effortlessly creating beautiful works of art. They wake up each day brimming with ideas and can easily translate their visions onto canvas, paper, or any other medium.

The Reality: Inspiration is often fleeting and unpredictable. Many artists struggle with creative blocks, periods of self-doubt, and frustration. The process of creating art can be laborious and time-consuming, requiring intense focus and perseverance. Artists frequently revisit and revise their work, striving for perfection while wrestling with the limitations of their skills and materials. Inspiration can strike and then take years to hone their skills, find the time to experiment and finally create that vision that held them captive for years.

Fantasy: Bohemian Life and Ultimate Freedom

The Myth: Artists lead carefree, bohemian lives, free from the constraints of traditional employment. They spend their days leisurely creating art, socializing in vibrant artistic communities, and enjoying the freedom to follow their passions without financial worries.

The Reality: The life of an artist can be financially precarious. Many artists juggle multiple jobs to support themselves, often working as teachers, freelancers, or in unrelated fields to make ends meet. The pressure to balance creative work with financial stability can be overwhelming. Additionally, the freedom to create often comes at the cost of security, with many artists facing periods of financial instability and uncertainty.

Fantasy: Instant Recognition, Fame and Easy Money

The Myth: Talented artists are quickly discovered and celebrated, their work fetching high prices and gaining widespread acclaim. They enjoy instant success and become household names in the art world.

The Reality: Recognition and success in the art world are hard-earned and often take years, if not decades, to achieve. Many artists toil in obscurity, facing numerous rejections and setbacks. The path to success is rarely straightforward, requiring persistence, networking, and a bit of luck. Even successful artists often experience fluctuations in demand for their work and must continuously adapt to changing trends and markets.

Fantasy: Art as Pure Passion

The Myth: Artists create purely out of passion and love for their craft. Their work is driven by inspiration alone, without concern for commercial considerations or external pressures.

The Reality: While passion is a significant motivator, artists also have to consider the marketability of their work. They often face the dilemma of balancing artistic integrity with commercial viability. Many artists undertake commissioned work or create pieces tailored to market demand to sustain their practice. The need to sell art can sometimes influence creative decisions, leading to compromises that can be challenging for artists dedicated to their vision.

Fantasy: Effortless Mastery and Talent

The Myth: Artistic talent is innate, and great artists are born with a natural gift that allows them to create effortlessly. Mastery of their craft comes easily and without much formal training or practice.
The Reality: Artistic skill is developed through years of practice, study, and dedication. Even the most naturally gifted artists invest countless hours in honing their techniques, learning from mentors, and studying various art forms. The path to mastery is filled with trial and error, continuous learning, and a commitment to improving one’s craft.

The Reality of Being an Artist: The Struggles

Financial Uncertainty:
- Many artists live with the constant stress of financial instability. Income can be irregular and unpredictable, with sales and commissions fluctuating based on market trends and economic conditions.

- Access to grants, residencies, and funding opportunities is often competitive and limited, it is very time consuming to even apply and in many cases if you are not part of a marginalized demographic you may as well not even bother. Time is precious and there is always work to do. This makes it difficult for artists to secure consistent financial support for their work.

Balancing Art and Life:
Artists often struggle to balance their creative practice with personal responsibilities and relationships. The demands of creating art can lead to long hours in the studio, impacting time spent with family and friends.

- Finding time for self-care and mental health can be challenging, especially when facing the pressures of deadlines, exhibitions, and financial obligations.

Navigating the Art World:

Building a career in the art world requires more than just talent; it involves networking, marketing, and self-promotion. Many artists find it challenging to navigate these aspects, particularly if they are introverted or uncomfortable with self-promotion.

- The art world can be competitive and exclusionary, with access to galleries, exhibitions, and critical recognition often influenced by connections and social capital.

Creative Block and Self-Doubt:

Artists frequently face periods of creative block, where inspiration and motivation are hard to come by. These phases can be deeply frustrating and disheartening.

- Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are common among artists, who may question the value and quality of their work, particularly in the face of criticism or lack of recognition.

- Social media is a two edged sword. On one hand it is a great way to find and connect with collectors, but while you are scrolling through it is easy to become disheartened thinking “I’m not sexy, or talented” like that artist will a million followers, or worse, you come across obviously bad paintings that seem to sell like hot cakes and you haven’t figured out how to beat the algorithm and get to even 1000 followers yet, how will you ever compete with that?

The Rewards of Being an Artist

Despite the challenges, there are profound rewards to being an artist that make the struggles worthwhile.

Creative Fulfillment:

The act of creating art can be immensely fulfilling. Bringing a vision to life and seeing it resonate with others provides a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose.

- Artistic expression allows for exploration and discovery, life never gets boring with constant learning. Trying new things, challenging yourself and overcoming your own doubts is deeply rewarding.

Impact and Influence:
Art has the power to inspire, provoke thought, and evoke emotions. Artists have the unique ability to impact society, challenge norms, and contribute to cultural conversations.

- Through their work, artists can raise awareness about important issues, advocate for change, and foster empathy and understanding.

- Being a positive contribution to society. The impact of being distracted from ones worries in the moment they take in a work of art is often undervalued, but an artist knows this is key to lifting the spirits of humanity. Imagine a world without art. All serious and nothing to enjoy.

Personal Growth and Learning:

The journey of becoming an artist involves continuous learning and growth. Each new project presents opportunities to develop skills, experiment with new methods, and expand one’s artistic repertoire.

- Overcoming challenges and pushing creative boundaries leads to personal and professional development, fostering resilience and adaptability.

Community and Connection:
Being part of the artistic community offers a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Artists often find support, inspiration, and friendship within their networks, enriching their personal and professional lives.

- Exhibitions, collaborations, and social media provide platforms for artists to connect with audiences, share their work, and receive feedback and encouragement.

Leaving a Legacy:
Artists have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy through their work. Art can endure beyond the artist’s lifetime, continuing to inspire and influence future generations.

- Creating a body of work that reflects one’s vision, experiences, and perspectives is a powerful way to contribute to the cultural and historical record.


The life of an artist is a complex interplay of fantasy and reality. While the romanticized vision of artistic life has its allure, the true experience encompasses both profound rewards and significant challenges. Artists are driven by passion, creativity, and a desire to make a meaningful impact, but they also navigate financial uncertainty, creative struggles, and the demands of the art world.

Understanding the realities behind the fantasy can foster greater appreciation for artists. By acknowledging the dedication and effort that goes into their work, we can better value and celebrate their contributions to society. Whether through purchasing art, attending exhibitions, or simply engaging with artists and their work, we can play a role in sustaining the vibrant and vital world of art.

Back to blog