The Value of Unsupportive Parents / by Lex Gjurasic


There is nothing more annoying than listening to some other artist talk about how their path is adorably supported by their parents. They don’t have student loans, Mom and Dad footed the bill for school, no sad trips to Hobby Lobby to use a 40% off coupon on supplies. Only the BEST for Junior! Not to mention Mom and Dad absolutely love ALL their art. They are just SO PROUD!

And home, home ISN’T NYC! They are just interlopers till acclaim comes their way. Home is still home with Mommy and Daddy. Who are both still married, to each other, by the way.

Immediately, I started protest hopping, worshiping the devil, and making drawings based on hairless Japanese pornography.

Don’t discount the value of unsupportive parents.

You are going to SHOW THEM when you make it BIG!

As a result of your folks’ lack of believing in your dream of becoming a regarded artist, you have a burning fire in your belly. The fire to show them that they are wrong.

You have a desire to make art at any cost. Sure, it’s nice to have Mother show your work proudly to her church prayer group, then pray for your success through JESUSCHRISTOURLORD’SNAME AMEN. But you have been blessed with nothing left to lose. You are so hungry for success. Through their lack of support, you are more self-reliant and therefore more creative. Any piece of free flotsam on the side of the road is absolutely wrought with unlimited potential!

You are not a well-kept lapdog; you are an artistic dingo scavenging the city for found objects.

Not only have your parents not believed in your dream, they never will. They never understood you anyway. You have always been so much deeper than them. You have never fit into their suburban dream.


The benefit of your parents not giving a shit about your art is that you don’t have to give TWO SHITS back. You don’t have to care what they think of what you make. You are like a young Robert Mapplethorpe once he shook off the shackles of wanting his father’s approval and began to give ZERO FUX.

Better yet, you may not even know your dad! You are lucky to reside in good company with other great creative pioneers such as Jobs, Bezos and Superman.

You DON’T NEED THEM anyway. You are an autonomous individual who makes whatever you want. Sure, those other patsies whose parents love them make art, but it is privy to their parent’s approval.

Do you know what happens when your parents pay $200K for art college? They are so invested in your work that they expect results they can show the neighbors AND that matches the couch. Basically they own your ass.

The best advice I got from my mentor was that if your parents aren’t paying your way, they can’t tell you what to do. It was a light bulb moment.

Immediately, I started protest hopping, worshiping the devil, and making drawings based on hairless Japanese pornography.

Who was to say no?

Who would disapprove of my new artwork?

Who would cast a shameful eye on me? Not my boyfriend at the time, I’ll tell you that.

When I went to Mexico City for a protest I was participating in, I met with a radical arts collective in DF and naively asked them if they had financial support from the government for their work. They scoffed, “NO WAY! Then they would tell us what to do!” Not to mention the Mexican government had burned their printing press the year before….

Returning to the US, I had a revelation. Any artist who made the public even the least bit uncomfortable and was funded through the NEA or through any other governmental organization was pretty much fucked.

David Wojnarowicz’s ant-covered Jesus video made ME feel uncomfortable; I can’t imagine how his parents must have felt. But I’m sure they don’t really care. If they had cared, he wouldn’t have been able to work so wildly and untethered. He would have backed away from the edge and ruined the nature of the sublime rawness of his art.

If your Ma and Pa have ever suggested that perhaps you have a “backup plan” to becoming an artist, like court reporting school, becoming a legal secretary, or getting a “real” degree—or if they want you to be a bit “more practical” and are straight up NOT willing to pay for a degree in Fine Art—you have been gifted with the blessing of parents who don’t support your vision.

The truth is that it’s just your art vs. the world. And be damned if you allow wanting their approval to make you fail.