Art career VS Parents is actually a very very common issue in many different countries.
First of all, you are not alone in this struggle, many many people are on the same boat sharing the same problem, including your parents.
A lot of parents tend to think doing art makes you starve, and you will be poor all your life if you want to become an artist. They are dead set on "a certain career means more money therefore means more steady life"
Truth is... whatever that popular career is... it may become less popular later because of so many people going into the field, thus lowering the demand. The supply and demand principle applies to all fields, jobs market changes.
OK. To start with the conversation... Lets make sure we know what they think that an "art career" is~~~
Research and Communicate:
Usually they don't know ANYTHING about that career you want to go into, usually the best way to go about it is research how much "salary" you will get paid with doing a certain job you are interested in. Money is usually your parent's first concern, secondly, you have to research into the "steadiness" of the job. That's their second concern.
I would post about union rates in US but i know every country have different rates in different fields.
For those in the US, I will share some links for you to use as reference:
Animator's wages in a decade
2007 Wage survey part 1
Visual arts resources:
Reports of salary on bls.gov
Web Developer Forum
Graphic Artist's Guild
rec.arts.comics report - scroll down to 3-18: HOW MUCH DO COMIC CREATORS GET PAID?
Toykopop rates and contract
Rates on Video game productions
Fine art gallery: (probably the most unsteady niche area, you can get nothing or alot, most fine art artists end up being teachers for job security.)
Reports of salary on bls.gov
My advice for the young people who needs to make a decision:
1. Choose what's more important to you- take your time to decide.
"It's your own life after you leave your parents- " This sounds mighty- american, it is easier said than done. But I have seen people live with this and they have no regret, they are very very happy and content with their lives, and some of them earn 6 figures....
You might be struggling with the acceptance from your parents VS your own happiness.... If you value your parent's opinion a lot more than your dream career choice, then go with your parents, you have made the sacrifice to please them.
However, if you feel that 20 years later you will regret this choice, don't do it.
Many students who ended up in a college with a major they don't want already struggle with moodiness, depression, unhappiness when they try to go their parent's way.
There's high hopes that the parents will eventually understand if you are serious enough:
I know people who tough it through, gone through hide and seek, got their work thrown out by parents, etc... but they chose to continue, and eventually, their parents almost always, turn around and support them in the end, when they actually start making money from art.
I say 9 out of 10, because every case I have seen with the same problem came out with the same happy ending. When the kid chose the harder road and tough it through. I haven't seen one parent that didn't come to term with it.
However, fighting with your parents DOES cost you energy, and valuable time to use for study, so it's best to learn to communicate however you can instead of fighting. If it really really doesn't work out, there's very few options left but to grow up and go to live on your own.
2. You can also choose to find a compromise area you think you can deal with, and do freelance work on the side to continue your art business until you can live on it completely. If you think you can handle a teaching job while doing some art freelancing, go ahead and do that, slowly prove it to them that you can become a full time artist.
Working full time as an artist is not for everyone, work is work, it has its pressure. So make sure you know you can do it until you are sick of it, and still you can do it the next day... before you decide this is your path.
2a. Art career can be your second career.
Also, I was told by a full time professional that on average "A person changes his career job 5-7 times in their life time." If your parents said your first career job must be "an accountant" or "doctor" or "businessman" it doesn't mean your secondary career job couldn't be a film director or artist. If you have no choice but to agree to your parents, it doesn't mean you have to completely give up on it. Do your studies to prepare yourself for your second career!
3. Work hard - Art industry is mostly entertainment industry, it is also a culture making industry, it's a specialty.
You don't just get in because you got a degree, in fact going to art institute and colleges has nothing to do with getting an art related job. Going to school for it only means they will give you the basics to prepare you for the job, better schools will get you better connections, better student bodies to motivate you, let you practice with industry standard tools, with more complete programming, all of that add together will eventually help you earn back the money you spent. But in the end, its what you put in counts.
You really need to have the skills and make connections. There's no other way to gain it but by working hard and go to social with other artists. If you only want to go into art but never work for it, you might as well not waste your time and do something else.
No one will hire you because "its your dream job."
If you want to get into art biz full time, be prepared to suddenly draw 8-12 hours a day, 40+ hours a week, or do 3D for that much time... whatever skills you wish to have, you have to grind for it.
4. Find a way to break in - "Break in" is our common term, technically if you get commissioned on DA or your site with REAL money you are already "freelancing." There is a ladder of difference between commercial clients and private clients, when they mention "break in" it means going in to work at a reliable company with steady income, and have your work be distributed through a commercial distribution channel.
To break in you might need to relocate to areas where there is publishers, companies, studios... usually it's the big cities.
Get yourself internships, (anyone who tells you internship is not important are liars) and get to know pros in the area.
Make yourself a reliable talent, and eventually you will get a chance and get work.
In the beginning years of an artist trying to find work, it's like the first year of survival in the wilderness, you need to be strong to survive, and work will keep coming to you. You don't have to be the best artist to survive, but you need to make sure your clients keep coming back to you, and search for new opportunities, you also need to start paying attentions to credits, the way the industry is moving, expanding or contracting.... There's a lot of homework to do.
(more resource will be added later)