"In 1867, French moved with his family to Concord, Massachusetts, where he was a neighbor and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the Alcott family. His decision to pursue sculpting was influenced by Louisa May Alcott's sister May Alcott."
One of the pitfalls of pursuing a career in art in this day and age, although it may be one's passion, is that it is not a stable and consistent source of income, and in fact, vast success in the field is rare. The sad truth is, artists are not valued for their work by the world as they used to be, like during the times of grand commissions. There are many appreciators of art, but most parents are not thrilled by hearing their child say, "I'm going to go to New York and be an artist."
It is very important, critical almost, that young, budding artists glean advice and help from people already present and experienced in the art world. These individuals can give the newbies a springboard to launch their career from.
Georgia O'Keeffe, the famed female painter, almost certainly could not have reached such a level of recognition without the help of Alfred Stieglitz, her friend and future lover. He had a gallery in Manhattan along with a prolific photography portfolio, so his advice to the young O'Keeffe was invaluable to her eventual success.
Another example of the importance of artistic mentorship is the childhood of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor behind the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He grew up alongside cultural figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Louisa May Alcott. Influences by such influential artists would have built up French's confidence in the possibility of having blinding success in the art world, even though his neighbors were artists of the word and he was a visual artist.
Artistic influences are very important, and the creative mind can really flourish with the support and help from experienced artists. Having an accepting community in which to create will allow creative juices to flow, and real beauty can be made.