Overcoming Common Artist Stereotypes

Male artist drawing a digital design on his tablet

Are you interested in the arts, or are you currently in a field related to the fine arts or performing arts? You may have heard artist stereotypes or oversimplified perceptions about creatives. If you are an artist yourself or know artists, you probably already realize these stereotypes are far from the truth.

Artists are innovative people who use their talents and creativity to bring new ideas and creations to life, whether it be through digital design, painting, pottery, drawing or any other creative medium.

3 Artist Stereotypes Debunked

Here are three artist stereotypes you may have heard regarding artists and their visual art debunked:

1. The Broke or Starving Artist Stereotype

The “starving artist” is a common stereotype often used to imply that artists do not make money, or that if artists choose to pursue their passion, they will be broke. This phrase perpetuates the idea that a majority of artists are not successful; this is far from the reality.

In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careers in arts and design, such as graphic designers, see a median annual wage of $49,600 as of May 2020.1 This includes the occupations:

Many artists and designers make a living by creating and doing what they enjoy. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help artists to secure a steady income and a job that revolves around their passion.

2. The "Arts Are Not Important" Stereotype

Some people may claim that art is not important. Regardless of this perception, art is actually a powerful tool and an important part of society. Artist Olafur Eliasson asserts that art has the power to change the world because it has the power to touch people and help them identify with others from different backgrounds.2

Research has also shown that art has an impact on mental health. Participating in art therapy and being creative allows individuals to relax and slow down. Art can help people deal with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.3

3. The Extreme Personality Stereotype

If you have seen TV shows, movies and other media that include artists, you have probably noticed that they sometimes seem to have an extreme personality. These extreme personalities can differ, but they can come across as intense. Often, the artist is portrayed as obsessive and isolated. In other cases, artists are portrayed as irresponsible or lazy.

Some people perceive artists as excessive perfectionists who are never satisfied with their own work. Others might see them as cluttered individuals with numerous unfinished projects lying around.

These stereotypes are just that—stereotypes. Like professionals in any other field, artists have a wide range of personalities, and not all are eccentric, extreme individuals. There is no one type of person who holds the title. Anyone can be an artist. That is what makes artists so unique and what they create so special.

Are you interested in turning your artistic abilities into a career? Check out Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production, which offers various artistic bachelor’s degree programs, including Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Advertising and Graphic Design, Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation and Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design. Click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen to get your arts education started 

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1The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arts and Design Occupations. They are not calculated using wages from GCU graduates but from workers across the country with varying levels of education and experience, and they reflect a national median wage for this occupation in May 2020. This national data may not accurately reflect earnings of workers in particular parts of the country and include earners at all stages of their career and not solely entry level wages. COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on May 2020.

2World Economic Forum, Why Art Has the Power to Change the World in June 2021

3rtor.org, Creativity and Recovery: The Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy in June 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.