People usually take one of two routes when I tell them I'm an Art Education major; they either comment on the "education" part, or the "art" part. If you haven't already read this article on things not to say to a teacher, please do, and then stop saying these things to me.
As for the "art" portion of my major, I decided to hop on the internet-list-making-bandwagon (Ok maybe I'm a little late to this trend. Sue me, Buzzfeed) and tell you all my own personal pet peeves of trying to share my passion with other people.
5 Things Not To Say To An Art Major
1. "That must be sooo fun!"
Okay, I understand you may have good intentions here, but lets discuss what you are really saying when you tell me that my major "sounds fun". You are saying that my major sounds easy. You are saying that my career path is more of a hobby than a job. You are telling me that I am pissing away my tuition money by painting pretty pictures and snapping photos on a fancy camera.
Well yes, it is fun, because I chose to major in, and eventually work as something I absolutely love. But that doesn’t mean its not hard work. And the way you pass my major off as a hobby belittles the countless hours of blood, sweat and tears I spend in the studio. I still have to work, I still have to study and I still have to take tests. I have projects and papers and deadlines just like everyone else. It's college for Christ's sake - its not exactly a cake-walk for anyone. Each field of study comes with their own challenges, and your blanket statements of how my major "sounds fun" completely attempts to invalidate my struggles. You most likely mean well, so try using words that are actually the compliments you think they are - like "cool", "engaging", "challenging" or "rewarding".
2. "So you like, paint and stuff? You must be really good at drawing"
Yes, I personally do happen to paint and stuff. And I suppose I can draw, sure. But I know plenty of fellow art majors and art teachers who will roll their eyes until they pop a blood vessel upon hearing this, because their personal art-making process preference apparently doesn't fall in to your standardized ideals of two-dimensional-realism visual art. There are thousands of art forms that branch beyond the paintbrush and the pencil. Instead, you can ask what kind of art interests this person, or if they have a favorite medium/style/subject matter. If there is anything artists like to do, its talk about their work and what interests them as art-makers.
3. "I wish was artistic!"
Ok this one doesn't bug me as much, because I often find myself telling my math and science friends I wish I was more right-brained, or my sporty friends that I wish I was more athletic. I understand everyone has things they wish they could be better at. But just don't say this to me unless you're prepared for my corny art teacher response of "Everyone can make art!" Because literally. Anyone. Can. Make. Art. And making art makes you artistic. Also, creativity and artistic ability is only partially made up of natural talent, but only blossoms after hard work. It's like a sport. Yeah, those NBA athletes are gifted, but they also put an insane amount of time and effort to perfect their craft. I don't know why it is hard for people to view art-making this way, but it is really no different than any other skill set people practice in order to perfect.
4. "That's not going to make you a lot of money"
Also, "Good luck finding a job".
*insert joke about me serving you fries at McD's*
First off, this is just downright rude. Most of us have been taught that it's rude to ask about how much someone makes and that it's rude to comment on someone's personal finances in general, so why do we seem to forget this very basic principle when it comes to talking about people's future finances? Education majors get this a lot too, and I'm sure other liberal arts majors do as well. Often times people say this as like, an informative statement, as if I was unaware that I live in a society that has about zero respect for artists and creative workers. As if nobody had ever mentioned it to me before. As if before I was graced with their all-knowing presence and infallible knowledge of our economic world, I previously believed that I would graduate with my BFA and immediately begin rolling in money. Thank goodness you told me! Otherwise I wouldn't have known that I'm about to enter an awful job market full of condescending jerks like you!
5. "So you can, like, make me free art :)"
There comes a point in an artists career where they stop making art for free. Usually that point comes sometime around when the reality of the prices of art supplies hits them. Also, and maybe you don't know this, but art is hard and time-consuming. Even for the most gifted of artists. Like, I'm talking hours of my time to paint you a picture of your stupid cat. Now, don't get me wrong, I will make you art if you ask, but then that is what we call a commission and it will come with an appropriate charge. Thats just how this whole money-in-exchange-for-goods-and-services thing works. Also, if you are my friend then at some point I will probably make you something (for free) over the course of our friendship because its the only kind of gift I really know to get people. But chances are if this is the first thing you're asking me upon hearing my major (meaning we are acquaintances at best), I am not going to ever give you something worthwhile for free. Also, I DONT WANT TO DESIGN ALL YOUR GODDAMN TATTOOS IF THEY ARE JUST GOING TO BE DREAMCATCHERS WITH A QUOTE YOU FOUND ON GOOGLE. Like at least be original if you're going to waste my time.
Like I said, I am aware that all majors come with their struggles, and I am sure that they all come with their own cringe-worthy reactions when they are shared in groups or upon introductions. I am probably guilty of making snap-judgments on majors that I know nothing about, but knowing how much a warm reaction means to me helps me to keep open mind when meeting new people who are completely different from me. The best I can do is to educate people on their misconceptions of my major and to try to clear the misconceptions I may have of theirs. Until then, I'm going to work on how I can teach the citizens of Ohio that New York is an entire state and not just a city without losing my mind.