By Tatiana Karme
When I was 13 years old, I found my love for writing. Eager for helpful criticism, I decided to bring one of my short stories to my grandfather, whose opinion matters greatly to me. After reading my piece, he paused and said, “Well this is nice, but you wouldn’t want to do that for a career. You won’t make any money.”
“You won’t make any money.” It’s a myth all creatives hear constantly and one that up until my second year of college I believed to be true.
With every early attempt I made to translate my creative outlets into a career goal, I was reminded that writing just wasn’t “practical” and was best left as a hobby. I tried researching hundreds of undergraduate programs that would help me to find my creative career, but continuously received the same response. I entered college with an unhealthy fear of the creative fields and directed my energy into finding a “practical” career choice instead. I decided to go in the direction of law, contrary to my creative desires.
A year into my undergraduate degree I felt unfulfilled. Creativity was no longer a part of my everyday academic curriculum and I was lost because of it.
Then, I took my first Humanities and Fine Arts class. In the Film and Media Studies course “Media Criticism,” I was learning about new media and multimedia, an area that genuinely interested me. I felt as though I could fully let my creative freak fly once again.
But I was still apprehensive. Was being broke something creativity-focused majors just accepted?
The answer is a short no. Research from the UK’s charity Nesta shows that careers in creative fields are actually rapidly growing, given that they are the least likely to be taken over by automation. More than 30 percent of jobs are creativity-oriented, and the idea of the starving artist is eradicated by the plain fact that annual salaries for creative jobs range anywhere from $45,000 to $160,000.
After learning this, I immediately began to research UCSB’s Humanities and Fine Arts, and in no time found all that the Writing Program has to offer. I had always thought of UCSB as a science-focused school, so I was shocked and excited that, while reading over all of the various courses, I was able to find so many opportunities for me to explore my creativity in an academic setting.
I took my first writing class, Journalism and News Writing with Janet Mizrahi, and unsurprisingly adored it. My professor was more than willing to introduce me to a world of creative careers I had never known existed: multimedia writing, web content writing, copywriting, and so much more. Professionals in these fields took what I had always seen as hobbies seriously.
Real career paths featured my hobbies as professional skills. Real professionals saw value in my writing, photography, and love of graphic design and would use them in a professional manner. My peers in writing courses were just as sure of themselves as students in any other major were.
I allowed myself to fully dive into the courses I found joy in. I was doing what I truly loved to do and nothing else mattered. I couldn’t care less how much money I made. I went to my family, bursting with excitement, and declared my new career path. Any chance I got I would tell whoever was willing to listen about my new discoveries.
I was more than thrilled to discover the truth about creative careers: I could do everything I loved AND make a stable living out of it. The idea that a creative career won’t make you money, or isn’t a realistic option, is false. And it took me longer than I would have liked to realize it.
Learn more about what UCSB HFA can offer.
Learn more about career and labor statistics.
Tatiana Karme is a third-year UC Santa Barbara student majoring in Communication and minoring in Professional Writing.