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Illustration by Jeff Koterba

By Otis Twelve

Twenty Things To Do If Your Kid Wants To Become An Artist

July 7th, 2024

  1. Panic.
  2. Don’t Panic. It’s probably just a phase.
  3. No, it’s not a phase.
  4. Panic again and lie awake all night.
  5. Prepare a long lecture about how cruel the world is and how artists starve and suffer and live in substandard housing set in neighborhoods where people walk all the time because they can’t afford SUVs amid the omnipresent scent of patchouli oil candles being manufactured next door to the vegan bakery and the Neo-Realist coffee shop.
  6. Realize in the middle of delivering your advice that the aforementioned kid is doodling instead of listening and the doodle is more than a passable surrealist portrait of your stern face with a Salvador Dali mustache added.
  7. Remember how you once wanted to be an artist. Drag your old easel out of the attic and paint a seascape à la Bob Ross.
  8. Panic.
  9. Try to get some sleep, but you can’t because you can’t stop thinking about how unhappy Kirk Douglas was in “Lust For Life,” and just thinking about it in the dark makes your ear hurt.
  10. Can’t sleep because you hear your child, behind closed doors down the hall, working on the soundtrack of that stop-action film the kid is making based on Japanese manga.
  11. Start work on the sequel to your first lecture entitled, “The odds are against you.”
  12. Start googling statistics on “Average salary of an artist in America.”
  13. Shudder when you see the answer is “between $9.50 and $21.39 per hour.
  14. Fill out a FAFSA.
  15. Poet. The kid mentioned becoming a poet?
  16. Panic.
  17. Suggest they become a jet pilot? It’s the career of the future… but your kid took two years to master a bicycle…so…
  18. Spend a whole afternoon feeling embarrassed for bringing up the whole jet pilot thing.
  19. Stop being realistic. Realism is overrated.
  20. Share some ramen. The kid is hungry.