Oh, and on the subject of actually knowing if you're ready for an art career, go to CGhub and check your work against all of those working professionals. In order to work in a profession, you must be able to produce professional work right?
If you can draw and paint anything well, and do so quickly, then concept art is the most stable and one of the highest paying art jobs(that's why schooling for it is so expensive). That usually means sacrificing style, and being well known by the masses because of it. That said, a freelance artist can do whatever they want, so if you like illustration, but you also don't want to worry so much financially, then you can be a freelance concept artist and illustrator.
You could also try your luck at being a fine artist, you'll either be paid bookoos of money, or you'll be a "starving artist" haha.
I personally feel this is a bad way to approach art as a career. Most all art jobs can get really stressful really fast. So your best option would be to pursue something you love that gives you personal enjoyment and satisfaction, because this is what you're going to need to push you forward through those really hard times. As Taurick mentioned you don't need a degree for many art careers but it generally helps. More than that schooling can offers you an opportunity to experience different art fields you may not be familiar with and help on you path. School also works as a good way of networking, something that I've found is incredibly important in finding work.
I agree that those careers can get stressful, but can't most careers? I'm not looking for a million dollar job. Just a relatively stable one. I love things like illustration, etc. But if it's going to be $15,000 a year, I would have to be a bit pragmatic about it.
Many careers are stressful but I would argue that artistic careers have a unique kind of pressure that not a lot can deal with. Many are broken in this career. As for stability that's another caveat about artistic careers, they can be quite tumultuous. However highly skillful and capable artist are always in demand. If you like illustration that's a very broad field that can lead you to many things. From my experience graphic design jobs are very plentiful, as technology grows there new ways to advertise and artist who can express a product artistically can get by quite comfortably. You are most likely going to start from the bottom, maybe not as bad 15k a year but if you stick with it can pay of fairly well. But again I think whats important is what you're into, a teacher once asked me, "What is it your up at 3 am doing?" because that's the kind of rigor it takes.
TaurickFeatured By OwnerJan 1, 2013Student General Artist
Can you be more specific? Employment rate, yearly income, etc I'm guessing?... (or do you mean sleep & balance wise?! LOL) [link] (the search bar is a handy invention)
TBH you're better off majoring in something you enjoy and can be productive in. Which will result in so many positives, including non average everything. Statistics aren't always good to go by, including advice -especially when making life decisions...
Your best bet is to explore fields, ask questions, find people who do things that interests you. Alot of artists have blogs nowadays, which will help find those people.
Lastly when it comes to most art careers, you don't "need" a degree or fancy piece of paper with your name on it. A good portfolio and mastery of craft will do you much better.