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6 Things to Expect When Choosing A Creative Major

Choosing your major in college is a huge undertaking. Now that I’m older I can’t believe that 18 year olds are expected to pick their career path with no life experience, but that’s another rant. Having gone through college and receiving a BA in Fine Art, I have learned a lot and some of it might be helpful for other aspiring artists before choosing to major in a creative field. Here are 6 things to expect when choosing a creative major.

1) Be ready to fully commit

Not all colleges will be as scattered and frustrating as mine, but all schools run on basically the same ideas: you get what you put in. So if you completely commit yourself to your passion/craft and pour your heart and soul into all projects then you will get a lot more out of your college experience. But just putting in the bare minimum for projects, portfolios and shows will not cut it. You need to stay after class, ask questions, ask for internships, ask for jobs, ask for help. It will pay off but it will take more commitment than you’ve probably committed before. But also commit to having some fun. It is college after all.

2) Be ready to work harder than anyone else

This is true during school and after. Studying for tests is hard and time consuming, but ultimately it is remembering and regurgitating. You know what’s a lot harder? Creating something of substance that will appeal to your professors, brainstorming, first draft, second draft, edits, final draft, and a presentation. Being graded and critiqued on something you’ve worked really hard on and really believe in is brutal, but you’ll grow from it.  Just remember to stay true to yourself and your vision.

It doesn’t get any easier after college. You will be constantly competing for grants, jobs and a space to show off your work. You probably won’t be working in a 9-5 office (and if you’re a creative, you don’t really want to), you won’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay your own taxes and you’ll probably work more hours than all of your friends. But if it’s truly your passion it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

3) Be ready to work jobs you hate

I will tell you right now, that you will not exclusively work in your field. Working in a creative field is hard and it’s really really hard to break into. That great unpaid internship you worked so hard for? They’ll ask you to stay (unpaid) for 6 more months. And you’ll probably do it, for the experience. You will work in a coffee shop or a restaurant and resent every single customer. You will probably work for a boss who treats you like shit and you will definitely be the lowest person on the totem pole. But you’ll get through all of these jobs and you will make ends meet and you’ll learn skills you never thought you’d need, but can’t live without. Plus you’ll probably make some long lasting friends along the way.

4) Be ready to answer a lot of well-meaning but annoying questions

Your relatives mean well, I promise, but you’ll probably hear, “Oh! What are you going to do with that when you graduate?” after you tell them your creative major, more times than you can handle. Just smile through it and tell them your dream. Nobody else has to live with your choices except for you. You are living your passion and they are probably not.

5) Be ready to be broke as hell

True life, most creatives are poor as hell. It takes a long time to get established and get to a point where you’re making money (hence the jobs you hate). But as long as you have food in your stomach and a fire in your belly you will make it though. Money isn’t everything. Spend all of your money to further your career. Invest in yourself.

6) Be ready to be fulfilled

This is the best part of choosing a creative major. You have chosen a path of fulfillment. Having a creative soul and not expressing it or being stifled at a desk job will be painful. But if you’ve worked hard, hustled, and persevered it will pay off.

Choosing the path for the rest of your life is incredibly daunting. If you’re thinking about a career in a creative field, I applaud you and wish you the best of luck. But it won’t be easy. (Well, I hope you prove me wrong.) Life is short so do something you love, even if you have to bust your ass to do it. It’s worth it.

Were you a creative major? Do you have anything to add?

|| the chaotic creative

  • Kirsten Royston

    This is awesome and so spot on!