7 Myths About Becoming An Artist Late In Life

At some point in your life, you’ll look at the life you’ve created and want something more. It may be as you graduate from college and decide your degree isn’t the path you want to take. It may be in your 30’s as you start your family and want to stay home with the kids. It may be in your 60’s as you retire and find yourself with more time on your hands. In any case, starting over can be a good thing when it comes to being creative and finding your inner artist.

Yet for many, the idea of finding your inner artist at a late age can be intimidating. Here are a few myths and what you can do to move beyond them.

Myth #1 You Have To Have Formal Training To Be A Great Photographer

I recently read a book Between The Lines by author Jodi Picoult and her middle school aged daughter Samantha Van Leer. In her note at the beginning of the book, she gives stories about how her daughter at a young age became a storyteller, and even began to write stories down as early as first grade. She states:

You are either born a storyteller or not, and my daughter – at age seven – seemed to have an intrinsic sense of how to craft literary tension.

Yes, artists can refine, they can learn, they can improve, and they can become better at what they do. But somewhere deep down inside, becoming an artist is inside our souls. Whether we choose to let it out at fifteen or sixty-five doesn’t change our potential. It merely changes the way we approach it and what we choose to do with it.

Myth #2 You Have To Quit Your Job To Be A Real Artist

Many, many people young and old start out on a part time basis. In some cases it’s for fun. In some cases it turns into a part time income. And in some cases, it eventually turns into something more. The purpose of becoming an artist is to fulfill something inside you that wants to let your creativity out. That can take any form you desire.

Myth #3 You Need Expensive Equipment To Be The Best

I’m amazed at what people create with an iPhone and Instagram. Artists are born in two ways – they have a vision of what they want to produce, and someone loves what they create and deems it to have value. You can do that with whatever tools you choose IF you truly have the desire to turn it into something artistic.

Myth #4 You Have To Live In A Major City To Be Recognized

Living in a major city like New York City, Miami or Paris has its benefits. Sure you can network with some of the best artists and representatives around. And if you are looking to break into the art scene, that can be a good thing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With Internet access, you can live anywhere in the world and have representation online. If you’re good enough, they will find you any way they can.

Myth #5 You Have To Have Credentials As An Artist

Degrees, certifications and accreditations are all nice to have. But education is for you to grow as a person from the inside out, not necessarily to prove your worth. Yes, great training will teach you things like the rule of thirds, how to light properly, and composition techniques. But as an artist, you can learn that in many ways if you have the desire to do so. Credentials are only necessary if you feel they are beneficial to you. The rest of the world considers that to be “fluff” and looks at you for who you are.

Myth #6 You Have To Have Direction Early On

I speak to photographers regularly that have decided to give photography a shot later in life. They’ve had the career. They may have retirement funds coming in. They may have a support system in place through a husband, wife, or significant other. At some point, they decided to focus on what’s important to them and turn to something they love: photography.

Myth #7 Create and They Will Come

There are many, many photographers out there who are great at what they do – and yet have zero recognition for it. You can’t “shoot and hope they come”. In today’s busy world, it just doesn’t work that way. No matter what level you want to take your artistry to, you have to market yourself to be recognized. You can brainstorm ideas as little or as much as you want. You can put up a simple website and market every day, or hire a marketing firm to take you as far as you can go. Your choice. Your focus. Your desires. But the only way you’ll be recognized is if you market yourself to your potential audience.

2 thoughts on “7 Myths About Becoming An Artist Late In Life”

  1. I am in my late 40’s and have a fairly successful technical career. I have shot “pictures” all my life starting with my own darkroom in high school but only in the last few years decided to start taking it seriously.
    This year I created my 5 year plan, a real business, training and schools every chance money and time would allow and hopefully I can make it a full time gig in the near future. Your blog, site and this post helps along that path. I still have a long way to go but your words ring true I suspect. Check back with me in 5 years and I’ll let you know.

  2. I am just breaking into the business and need to learn the marketing end of Photography. Also trying to narrow down my services that I am offering. I know much money can be made in wedding photography and commercial product photography and trying to decide what will be my bread and butter but i also want to do underwater photography and other artistic visually appealing work.


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