During coaching sessions, or informal chatting, it happens quite often to discuss the importance of coming from a wealthy family, which is seen as an absolute advantage for pursuing the creative career one wants. It seems that a wealthy family is all one needs to have in order to start a successful profession in the arts. I would like to question this assumption.
Being wealthy helps to get into the best schools, master courses and it might even allow the person to finance his or her own projects: if you have the money to fund your own production, say a book, an exhibition, a film, what else can you ask for? Family wealthy also provides you with the social links that one needs in order to become a well-spoken, networked, high-status cultural producer: in short, if you belong to a rich family, you will have access to powerful people, which can go a long way, as everybody knows.
It will give you not just more means, but also good habits, psychological finesse, travelling, and also traditions: well-established roots, family identity, a sort of model ‘how to stay and move in the world’. If you come from a rich family, you’ll become someone quickly at ease within the environments where decisions are made. Unfair, but true.
Now, what possible advantage could one get from NOT belonging to this category of people?
First, one has more motivations to get out of a disadvantaged situation, and more drive to achieve his/her goals: if you come from a poor environment, you don’t already have what you need, and you are more willing to commit to get results. Basically, you have more of that ‘primary energy’, which you cannot get anywhere if not in real need of something. The disadvantaged person knows very well that nothing will happen if s/he doesn’t make it happening. No fear, no scary about anything. Do not underestimate this strength.
Secondly, paradoxically, the poorer enjoy also more freedom to make his/her own choice, because no tradition to follow exists. You can easily see that if a family has a long and important tradition of lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, etc., the pressure put on financial value and social status is so high that will be a problem if someone wants to become, say, a photographer, or a graphic designer. The demands to keep up that ‘family value’ will override any natural inclination of the subject. There is too much to loose, from a risky choice that departs from the tradition.
A third, fundamental aspect: the disadvantaged person might not be attached to any particular location in which his/her family lives, precisely because s/he has nothing to loose: having anything specific which anchor him/her to the family place, will provide the flexibility to search the locations offering the best possibilities. It will be easier to head for the places where the natural inclination might get fulfilled, either through study or work.
So, back to our coaching sessions for artists and creative people: take the assumption that a wealthy family is important in career-succeding with a grain of salt: to start advantaged, is not always better.