By Natasha Ganes
Many moons ago I was a flight attendant for a brief period of time, living with a couple of other girls who I had gone through the attendant training with. One of those roommates (we’ll call her Milly) wanted to quit flying and attend art school, but her parents adamantly rejected her dream based on their fear that by doing so she would end up jobless and poor or something equally embarrassing. They preferred Milly to continue her career as a flight attendant for the next few years until she found a man to support her, so she could promptly quit working and give birth to a bunch of blonde babies. Okay, that’s unfair. In all reality I have no idea what Milly’s parents wanted her to do as an alternative to art school, except not enroll and drop the subject altogether.
For Milly’s parents, art was something to be viewed and possibly appreciated, but never pursued as anything more than a hobby or pastime. The idea of creating art for a living was foreign to them. Not only unheard of, but a cause for unease. The words “my daughter is an artist” were not a prideful declaration, but an uncomfortable mumble.
My roommate was a talented artist – her pen and ink sketches were amazing – but more importantly she loved doing it. How many of us can say that about our jobs? She would sit for hours huddled under a blanket in our living room, using a flashlight and small sheets of clear glass to create shadows across her notepad that she would then turn into the most incredible designs. Her bedrooms walls were adorned with her black and blue inked drawings, imaginative worlds created during eternities spent in a love-filled labor.
Could Milly have turned her sketches into more than paper wall hangers if she had ignored her parents’ wishes and pursued her dream? Yes, of course. With or without art school or even just simply selling her art, she could have used her talent in any number of “respectable” careers her parents likely would have approved of: graphic designer, drafter, illustrator, the list is endless. I have written my whole life and now make a very good living doing just that. My brother took his talent for drawing and painting and turned it into a successful architect career. Perhaps the reason our futures turned out differently than Milly’s though, is that no one told us we couldn’t turn our love of the arts into a future job. Instead, our parents encouraged us to take whatever artistic talents we had and use them to secure a job we might actually like to do.
I am a firm believer that if there is something you love to do and you’re determined enough to continue doing it, you can find a way to make a living out of it. No matter what “it” is. And that’s especially true about art. We need more artistic creativity in the world, not less. If you have an artistic talent, go do it and forget anything anyone tells you different. I lost track of Milly years ago, but I can only hope she eventually managed to do the same.