A new study finds that, surprisingly, the reverse is also true. It identifies a large group of Americans who have every right to call themselves professional artists, but for some reason avoid doing so.
“Our findings suggest that there are significant numbers of individuals who are engaging in the production of artistic work, but are not embedded within the art world,” Jennifer Lena of Columbia University and Danielle Lindemann of Rutgers University write in the journal Poetics. “This lack of embeddedness is fundamentally important to their self-definition.”
The researchers analyzed some puzzling data from the Strategic Arts Alumni Project, a large, nationwide survey of people who attended arts schools in the U.S. (The vast majority, 81 percent, are alumni of an arts-related undergraduate program. Sixteen percent studied an arts-related discipline in graduate school, and three percent attended a high school for the arts.)
Some of this difference could be written off as simple error. In addition, some of the arts-related professions listed (such as “curator” or “arts educator”) were outside the definition of “professional artist.”
Nevertheless, more than one-quarter of the self-described musicians and architects were in this “dissonance group,” along with 20 percent of dancers and choreographers and 18.5 percent of graphic designers. Continue reading “But I’m no artist”