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Nov 05 2015
by Kailyn Slater

12 Things You Probably Shouldn't Say to an Art Major

By Kailyn Slater - Nov 05 2015

Deciding to be an art major and/or to attend art school comes with incredible amount of ignorant commentary from people who just don't understand why you could ever choose art as your career.  The following are actual, eye-roll-worthy quotes said to art students studying--and yes, actually studying--at the School of the Art Institute.

1. "Oh man, I wish I went to art school. Sounds like so much fun. I'd love to just relax and draw/color all day.” 

By "relaxing" all day, do you mean working in the studio for at least six hours while writing your three papers due next week in your head and concurrently trying to schedule time to get a part time job because you can barely afford a bottle of water? Then yes, relaxing all day does sound like oh so much fun.

2. *looks at art* “I could do that.” 

Cool, you didn't though. And no, no you couldn't. 

3. “You better marry someone who has a great job.” 

The fact that people can even infer that I'm actually going to be a starving artist post-graduation after actually being a starving artist in college is just plain rude. Just saying. Art school is crazy expensive, and I am going to drown in loans, but that doesn't mean I won't be successful enough to pay them off. Learn some manners. 

4. “Why don’t you study a real major?” 

There is no way to calmly answer this. Just don't ask it, because odds are, your major has the same post-graduation employment rates and salary ranges, which are all comparative to "real" majors. Essentially, the odds of art students getting a job post-grad are just as high as yours.

5. “Can you design my tattoo?” 

If I actually do draw, if you're nice to me, and if you pay me, then yes, yes I can. 

6. “DRAW ME!” 

Um...I'm good. Thanks.

7. *sees you painting/drawing* “Did you draw that?!” 

Oh yeah! Actually, yes, I did draw this! Wow, what a shock, right?!

8. “What’s your back up plan?” 

Back up plan? Really? This is my plan. Don't demean my major as less than yours because you're on a track and guaranteed a job post-graduation. Don't even. 


This was cute the first time. After hearing it approximately five hundred times, it's just annoying. 

10. “So, like…what do you even do?” 

There are SO many fields of art besides painting (i.e., drawing, sculpting, etc). It's so assumptive to think that all of us paint, because the majority of us don't. A better way to ask an art student what we do? "What's your medium/media?"

11. “Oh, you’re an artist. That explains why you look like that.” 

You can only really say this to an artist when you see visible paint/charcoal/other remnants of media on their clothes/face/body. Otherwise, just don't judge someone for their appearances or how they dress, okay? Express yo'self.

12. “You’re too smart to be an art student.” 

And finally, this golden phrase that has been said to me too many times. Being an art student requires a lot of intelligence, actually; balancing your budget, writing intellectual and analytical essays, demonstrating knowledge of art theory, and having a conceptual/narrative basis to your work is just a view aspects of being an artist. We have just as many papers, just as many projects, and just as many presentations that you do in your "real" major.

Art majors are smart, art majors are kind, art majors are important; until you say stuff like the above to us. 

Lead Image credit: Tumblr

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Kailyn Slater - School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Kailyn Slater is a first year student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying Art & Technology Studies, Sculpture, Writing, Video, and Sound. She does everything and anything with a computer, while concurrently eating waffles and being sarcastic.

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