According to a study on Indeed.com, the annual income for artists in Utah is $34,000, which is 40% less than the national average. But for Chuck Landvatter, an art teacher at Utah State University, pursuing art is something worth the limited income.
“Art is kind of like what we live for in a lot of ways whether we realize it or not," Landvatter said. "When Winston Churchill was asked whether or not they should cut funding to the arts to pay for more war equipment, this was of course during World War 2. He said, ‘If not for art, what are we fighting for?’”
“My teachers, they’re really, they’re incredible,” said Kaela Rollins, an art student at Snow College in Ephraim. “They’re very honest and real about the reality of being an artist and getting into this field going forward. They’re pretty brutal sometimes with the reality of it like, ‘You’re not going to make a lot of money. It’s very rare that you’re going to become a crazy famous artist and that everybody’s gonna want to buy your work and it’s gonna be a lot of hard work and a lot of hours and a lot of time spent wondering if maybe you should have gone some other direction.”
When asked about her favorite art teachers, Rollins was excited to talk about Brad Taggart and Scott Allred.
“One of my teachers always talks about how you just have something inside of you that tells you like, ‘I need to be making art, I need to be doing art.’ He’s always like, ‘If you have that inside of you, you can’t ignore it, you can’t put it aside otherwise you’re going to be miserable, you’ll be at a desk job having that feeling inside of you and you’ll have wasted your time not pursuing what you should be doing with your life.”
“I used to think that I had all this power as a teacher, like I had this huge mantle and responsibility, and I do believe I have a big responsibility," Landvatter said. "I think most of the work is done by the student, there’s no doubt about that. I kind of just provide them the opportunity, the space, the tools, maybe a little bit of direction, to help them achieve that themselves. I don’t feel like I’ve ever produced an artist. I’ve facilitated, I’ve been part of the process and that’s really exciting.”
Landvatter enjoys being in touch with the art that college students are interested in, and works with art students, like former student Bryan Perrenoud, an aspiring artist in Logan who recently started a YouTube channel to promote his art. He is inspired by the teaching style of Landvatter.
“There’s been some little art ventures where we were trying to make t-shirts and we had him be a featured artist," Perrenoud said. "How he handled everything was really cool, that’s how I want to be, open to helping other artists and I was really impressed with that.”
Landvatter plans to return to teach at USU for fall semester and will continue to assist artists beginning their careers.
On the importance of art, he said, “It’s very important to build bridges and to have accountants and engineers and lawyers, these are all extremely important in our society and I certainly don’t want to diminish their role. But why cross the bridge if there is nothing to cross for, right? If you’re not working towards something that brings meaning into your life? When it comes to meaning, art nails it.”