You shouldn’t have to. But I could scream proudly at the world that “I studied illustration,” and that “I have my BFA now!” And the world will reply with worry in it’s eyes and a slight twinge of disdain in it’s voice:
Oh……… And what are you going to do with that?
If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that question, I would have a lot of nickels. Like, enough nickels to go back and get a degree in rocket science because that would apparently be more “useful.”
People don’t realize how saturated the world is with art. It is so much so that as a result it is often taken for granted and perceived as an unnecessary trade. Don’t let these folks that have gone blind to art get you down though.
While indeed we are no longer in illustration’s “Golden Age,” there are still many jobs for us illustrators out there. Sometimes work will fall into your lap (more so if you’re good at networking) and sometimes you have to seek it out yourself (by sending lots of postcards). Rest assured, work is out there.
Typically, that skepticism you receive from others is based on the idea that it takes luck to “make it big” as an artist but the truth is that it takes just as much hard work and time as rocket science. While creating art appears to come effortlessly, all artists know the truth and the hours of hard work and practice that went behind perfecting that swing of the pencil or flick of the brush.
If you keep working, you’ll make it. So really, the simplest explanation when asked what you’ll do with your art degree is:
I’m going to continue doing what I love to do. Only better.