I have mentioned this before, but as my day job, I am a temp.
I was chatting with someone who happened to come into the office where I was working and she was asking me if I was looking for permanent work. I said not really, and offered that I am an artist and temping is a great way for me to invest more time in my artwork and have some flexibility if I need to prepare for a show. Here is how her side of the conversation went from there:
"Oh! My sister-in-law is an artist, too - she does ceramics. When she decided to do pottery I tried to tell her, 'You know, you're in for a life of destitution,' but she gets by. She doesn't have much but she's happy. She supports herself by taking care of an elderly lady. But,you know, that's great if you want to do that, it's a tough life though."
Oh, comments like this make me so angry! I hate that the stereotype of the "starving artist." Even more I hate that many artists do nothing to dispell this myth "Boo-Hoo, I'm so misunderstood" or "Alas, I am an undiscovered genius. I'm waiting for the Whitney to call." Get off your butts, artists, be proud of what you do, and try to make some money while you're at it.
Admittedly, this woman was well-intentioned. She was making pleasantries, but when the first thing I hear after I say I'm an artist is "Oh! My ________ is an artist and he/she is SO POOR!" I feel like my work is immediately devalued, before I even show it or explain it. I think non-artists just don't know what else to say to artists. Like we some alien life form. Some really impoverished deadbeat lifeform.
I didn't give my whole elevator speech though, maybe that was the kicker.