Artists make a career out of living through their craft


Shaelyn Martinez/The Lion's Roar

Some artists decide to display their artwork in restaurants and coffee shops. Making a career as an artist can be difficult, but balance and positives can be found in the work.

Artists must decide if their skills are marketable before pursuing art as a future career.

Shelby Szelei, an alumna, discussed how she decided to become an artist.

“I figured out that although I was good in math and science with my original degree in biochemistry, I didn’t love it,” stated Szelei. “I knew at the start it was where I was meant to be because I wanted to be there. I never struggle to find motivation to do my work and want to do more with it.”

Kailee Gilbride, an artist who displays her work at PJ’s Coffee on Southwest Railroad Avenue, was inspired by the creativity of art as a child. As she grew up, her passion also grew, and was encouraged by her friends and family to make a profit from it.

Gilbride shared her experience working as an artist.

“It was really hard to get started at first, and I knew it was going to be hard, but honestly, I love it,” said Gilbride.

About a year ago Gilbride began selling her work, and she recognized the challenges that can accompany the career.

“Other than art block, and stretching myself or putting myself out there because there is a lot of competition involved with all of the artist, you have got to get in contact with the right people,” explained Gilbride.

Szelei discussed the stereotype of the “starving artist.”

“We aren’t starving,” stated Szelei. “However, our materials as an artist are very costly. It’s a hard balance between the cost and time it takes to create the art, and a lot of times you will find that some of the hardest workers come from the art department.”

For Tiffany Nesbit, an alumna, a career as an artist requires balance.

“As my work is growing, I’m slowly realizing that the term ‘starving artist’ is a little ridiculous,” shared Nesbit. “You have to find the balance between working in your studio and creating connections for yourself that lead to financial success. Get off your butt, go make art, and promote yourself.”

Szelei feels she gained success as a professional artist.

“I personally feel quite successful because I currently work at a T-shirt company in Hammond and love every moment of it,” stated Szelei. “I also never feel like I am ‘working’ but rather doing what I love for my enjoyment and hope others will enjoy it too.”

Nesbit pointed out the positives in her work.

“I have had countless opportunities and developed awesome friendships throughout my career as an emerging artist,” said Nesbit

Gilbride feels satisfied after selling her artwork.

“The look on people’s face and the enjoyment that they get when they receive my artwork is what I love, and I really love the emotional appeal of art,” expressed Gilbride.