Why a lot of Men Don’t Become Artists

Perhaps this should be entitled, “Why I think a Lot of Men don’t become Artists”

Yesterday just happened to be International Women’s Day. It’s just a coincidence that this one was in the queue and I mean no disrespect to women in any sense by posting this now. Women in my opinion are the most deserving and yet under-appreciated people on the planet!

If you’re someone who grew up in the sixties and seventies you might find this applies to you. If not it still may be of some help to you, especially if you are male.

Art from where I have seen it is assumed to be either a woman’s thing or for men who are more effeminate. In some way if a man is artistic he is showing his feminine side.

Strange isn’t.

Perhaps I have some unique experience here. Perhaps for you it seems to be the exact opposite or that as many men pursue art as do women.

I worked with a young fellow once who came from the background of the construction industry. In fact he was born into a family who owned a construction business. Once when we were working together on a back shift clean-up-job he shared with me his incredible drawing skills. We often had time at the midnight lunch break to take it easy, joke around and exchange stories. We traded favourite movie scenes; he from James Bond and me from Star Trek. He showed me some fantastic drawings and sketches he did on paper.

I asked him if he would pursue some art or design career. ” Nah, no money in it”, he said. So over the years I periodically met him by chance to  discover he had, indeed kept up in the construction field.

He was not the only male artist that I knew that had had similar experiences. In fact if men can create art sometimes it seems more acceptable for them to paint wildlife,trucks, fishing scenes or other subjects that might lean more toward manliness. I’m certainly not saying there is anything wrong with whatever subject one chooses to paint.

The perception in society is that ‘art’ is not a money maker. It also goes hand-in-hand with the idea that the man is the sole or main bread -winner. As much as I am in sympathy with women and women’s right I think we may tend to forget that out there in the world, still hiding in places is this expectation that men face. Young men want to please their fathers and follow in their foot steps.  I wonder how many men with considerably advanced skills in art or design have followed the perceived path of money to pursue their ancestral, patriarchal dreams?

How many males either don’t see art as a ‘manly’ vocation nor one that will provide the bucks necessary to build a home and family? Besides it’s no insult after all to be compared to female qualities. It’s a good thing!

This would indeed make a good study.  What’s your take on it?


8 comments on “Why a lot of Men Don’t Become Artists

  1. You might be right about why men don’t become artists as often as women. I’ve always wondered why the art scene is mostly female. But when men enter contests they win more often and they get more sales. It seems like they’re taken more seriously than the women.

    • That is an interesting point. It would seem odd that more women are ‘comfortable’ with art and yet men get more awards/sales. It would good to see the actual stats on all this. However this is what we see isn’t when we go to events, etc. hmm interesting. Thanks !

      • Yes, maybe you can do a study on it. I’m not into the art world enough to do that. I think you have a point about men feeling like they have to be the bread winner in the family. Do you think fear of failure plays a part in it? Women seeing it as a hobby vs men seeing it as a money maker, so women can enjoy doing art even though there’s no hope for ever being successful?

        • True. Yes… I only have a ‘toe’ in the art world myself. This is a good point that men see art perhaps from a different perspective (generally) There are , of course many business minded women and maybe as cultures allow for women to be entrepreneurs we’ll see more. Sometimes even in poorer countries women ARE the breadwinners as we know. Maybe if cultures allowed men ( or they gave themselves permission) they would pursue art more. I’m not even sure if my generalizations aren’t a little ignorantly ‘sexist’. I just know as a male I have felt this pressure in my own life. I’ll have to think more on the “fear of failure” aspect. Maybe it’s just as much a fear of success?

  2. I think you have some good points here, kevin. Though here in Holland, I see art being more a feminine thing a little less. But the point about income production and the pressure on males to prove themselves that way is spot on here as well.

    Here there is also a very large discussion going on about gender neutrality (over the station intercom, saying, ‘Good evening everyone’, instead of ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen, out of deference for the people who feel to be either in between genders, or belonging to neither description). Also there ar interesting discussions going on about bringing up your kids ‘gender neutral’. Giving your sons dolls to play with if wanted, and your daughters technical construction kits. Still seems that even young babies show a leaning to one or another and when boys were given Barbies, they often built fortresses and armies from the dolls and furniture etc.
    cheers, Sarah

    • Maybe it’s a gender issue and maybe something more. It has to do with tradition and social expectations. I’ve noticed personally that men are expected to do the ‘physical’ jobs at most work settings. Things like art that deal with emotions seem to be female-centric. Maybe it has to do with emotion as well and the means of expressing emotion. I’m glad that where you are art is not as gender biased(?).

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