Odds of Hanging On
There are two million artists in the United States. This number has doubled from 1970 to 1990, which means that there is a steady growth in the arts. However, the odds of hanging on are slim. You may have to make some compromises. Want a nice car and a fancy house? You may have to wait on those dreams or enter another profession. Also, painters find themselves taking on commission work to make ends meet. Commission work is creating a work of art on specifications from scratch for someone other than yourself in exchange for money. Painters typically do not get full creative control when they are painting the Tower of Pisa on the wall of a pizza joint, but at least the money will keep them alive for another day.
Many artists take on a second job just to hang on. Next time you are at the art supply store, ask someone if they are an artist. The answer is most likely "yes." Painters also go the graphic design route. Many of them can work from home on their paintings and switch to a graphic design project. Taking a few graphic design classes at school while getting your undergraduate or graduate degree can help you with a Plan B.