What not to say to an artist

Pauline Le Pichon
4 min readJun 3, 2022

In my “Tips for artists” articles, I give advice to artists.
But for this new article, I’ve decided to do the opposite and therefore give some advice to non-artists. In fact, I’ve decided to talk about the things that people shouldn’t say to artists.
This article is just a reflection of my opinion. It doesn’t mean that other artists agree with me.

- Do you make money with your art?

This question was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about writing this article. I graduated in 2014, and since then, a lot of people have asked me (and even asked my mother) if I make money with my art.
And I think that’s the most intrusive question ever.
Why do these people want to talk about my bank account?
Why do they care about the money I earn?
I truly understand why some people are worried about me (like my family, for example) but when it comes to people who barely know me, I really don’t see the point.
Money is a private matter.
People shouldn’t ask such questions.

- You’ve made the wrong decision

A few years ago, I bumped into a guy I had known in high school.
We immediately started talking and I ended up telling him that I had become an artist.
At that moment, he looked me in the eyes and said “What?! Why did you do that?! You’ve definitely made the wrong decision”.
Imagine how I felt at that moment. I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say.
Being/wanting to be an artist can sometimes be incomprehensible to some people, but we all have our dreams, we all have our ambitions. We are all different and everyone should respect that.
Moreover, artists know how difficult it can be to work in this sector, so they surely don’t need to be reminded of that.
Finally, this sentence shouldn’t be said to someone who has low self-confidence and/or who is facing difficulties in their professional life.
These words can definitely be very hurtful.

- So you think you’re an artist, huh?

It took me years to say out loud that I was an artist. Even now, when I have to introduce myself, I sometimes say that I’m a photographer so that I don’t sound pretentious. Well, it’s true, I’m a photographer but I am first and foremost a visual artist. Yes, that’s what I am.
And admitting that is sometimes hard because some people tend to think that I don’t deserve to be considered an artist. Yet my work, my career and the people I work with, prove that being an artist is one of my jobs.
I know that some people tend to present themselves as artists even if they’re not, but people should make a distinction between real artists and fake ones.

- You wake up at noon and do nothing, right?

Yes, of course. I wake up at noon, have breakfast, do nothing until nine, eat dinner, then work for ten minutes, watch (too) many Desperate Housewives episodes and finally go back to bed.
Here’s the truth: I usually wake up at 7 am, start work at 8 am and finish at 7 pm. And I sometimes work at weekends if necessary.
Many people think that when you’re an artist (or a freelancer), you’re never busy.
But it’s a complete misconception. When you’re an artist, you have to create artworks, post your work on social media, update your website, take the time to look at open calls, send applications, prepare your next exhibition, do your day job…
Believe me, I wish the days were longer.
Some people should stop thinking that artists are lazy. Instead, they should think about the time and energy the artist has put into the exhibition they’re visiting.
Artists are free to create what they want and organize their time as they wish, but it doesn’t mean that they’re people who watch television all day.

- My five-year-old daughter could do that

Well, why doesn’t she exhibit her work?
Just kidding :)
Art can sometimes be difficult to understand. But instead of being mean, people who say these things should try to think more deeply. It’s not because you don’t understand something that you should reject it or make fun of it. It’s about being more open-minded and less critical. Even if you don’t like the artist’s work, you still have to respect it.
Besides, artists usually accept criticism. But they only accept it when it’s well-founded. Not when it’s mean and unnecessary.

As you may have guessed, I was hurt by many things people said to me.
But I’ve learnt to live with those things. And everyone can do that.
Be proud of what you do and who you are. Let the haters say what they want. Haters are people who are bored with their lives, who are envious or who just don’t know what they’re talking about. Ignore them and just enjoy your artistic life!



Pauline Le Pichon

I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, and instructor