I have excerpted this in it's entirety with no personal emphasis anywhere to retain the message in its original context. Basically, Todd tells it better than I could anyhow.
Original post is here on Todd's website:
That’s not a question I ever asked myself. I always knew I was going to be an artist. But Michael Whelan studied medicine before realizing his true calling.
Art is a passion, or it will kill you. Your love of art will have to sustain you during the lean times. That said, once you have paid your dues and built a following, it can be very rewarding personally, and possibly financially.
Does the phrase “starving artist” ring a bell?
A career in art is, I suspect, much like a career in any of the other arts. A certain tiny number will achieve fame and fortune, another few will achieve fame, but little fortune, others will find good jobs, if only somewhat satisfying, and very many will toil in obscurity until they give up or find something better.
I don’t mean that to be discouraging, but if you’re lazy, don’t be an artist. If you want to spend your weekends lounging around the pool, doing nothing, don’t be an artist. if you expect to graduate from college, land a terrific job and start kicking asses, don’t be an artist.
However, if you love to create things, if your primary means of entertainment for yourself was drawing pictures and/or story telling (D&D, making your own comics, writing short stories… anything that fired your imagination) then you may have what it takes. In fact, if you have all those qualities and don’t pursue art, you may spend the rest of your life wondering whether you had the chops, if you had missed your calling.
Talent is only part of the equation. There are many artists more talented than I who have failed and disappeared. I work my ass off. I go to conventions, I network with other artists and enjoy the company of people around the industry. I spend a lot of time in research (which I find enjoyable), put a lot of thought into every painting, and am always seeking to improve my craft. It’s a matter of desire. After 15 years in advertising, I HAD TO DO THIS. I started attending conventions in hopes of landing more enjoyable work, or I was going to hang up my brushes and get a real estate license. Art was and is my lifeblood. Creating is what I do. If you are the same way, then challenge yourself and study art. If you are just a guy who draws occasionally and thinks that art might be a good way to make some money, you’re on the wrong track.
Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss, and doors will open where you did not know there were doors”. It’s true, it worked for me. You need to ask yourself what you enjoy most. What gives you the greatest pleasure? What do you do when you have leisure time and want to entertain yourself? That’s where your greatest level of satisfaction in a career will be found. You will excel when you love your work. If art fires your imagination and inspires you, then follow that bliss.