When I grow up: Artist or Banker?

“Young artists can take comfort: Young bankers are almost on par with them in choosing risky careers.” Though it might be cold comfort to those already knee-deep in a fine arts education, jobs — real jobs, the kind that are accompanied by a steady paycheque and routine motivation to remove yourself from bed each morning — are just as hard to come by as jobs for banker wannabes.

The cynic in me, of course, wants to ask which jobs are the easy ones to come by? I decided it wasn’t worth hacking it in the Canadian book publishing industry because I want to be able to feed myself on a regular basis. Thus, my career in events — which, while isn’t quite like winning the lottery combines the very favorable traits of both job-satisfaction and weekend warriordom.

However, when I reflect on my career-path and my relative success (a term which is self-defined, I believe) I think that the reason things have worked out to the degree they have is the same reason why artists and bankers have an equally difficult time finding jobs. In a few cases, the person who is very, very good at a single thing excels in their field. However in most cases, the person who finds the penultimate of success (which I must remind is both fiduciary and egotistical comfort) does so because they are very, very good at a few things. The banker must be creative; the artist must have a head for business.

I am reluctant to liken instant success to the model discovered in a mall, but it’s hard not to grimace at those who appear to have been handed a livelihood when you’re the one fighting, clawing, and scraping by on a daily basis to ensure that not only is your rent paid but you can sleep at night assured because your work isn’t an ethical dilemma.

This creates a very special problem though — we cannot expect everyone to be good at everything, especially when success in art does not truly require business knowledge, just as success in commerce does not necessarily require creativity. But it’s an edge. For myself, I find that when asked a question I like to be able to give an answer…

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