Busting the Myth of the Starving Artist

starving artist
Warning, I am going to rant for a minute. Been feeling this rant coming on for a while and then I got a hit over the head just now and I can’t keep quiet. To all the well-meaning parents, teachers and mentors out there who keep telling their kids, students or mentees that they can’t make a living as a creative, I say to you to you:
There are many, many examples of rich, successful, happy creative business owners.
I had a few minutes over lunch today to rest and wanted some mental distraction. So I popped on Netflix and the first thing that popped up was a holiday movie called The Holiday Calendar. First I got annoyed that it was a holiday movie already and then said what the heck, I love holiday movies and could use a good romantic comedy.
The opening scene shows a burnt out, young photographer selling her soul working for someone else… cue next scene, young photographer goes home to family and her parents instantly lay into her about how photography is a hobby not a career and try to get her to join Daddy’s law firm. UGH. I couldn’t believe that here I was seeing this same insidious message replayed again. So here I am venting on FB.
I was ticked off. I am so sick and tired of hearing this message. Of creatives not being valued for their gifts and talents. Of creatives being marginalized as crazy or insane or unproductive or unreliable or a million other stereotypes of the creative that are not true.
The timing was no coincidence. I had spent the morning working on Facebook ad copy for our new training on how to make money as a creative. I am on a mission to totally bust the myth of the Starving Artist that is rooted so deeply in our culture.
If I had a dime for every time someone shared with me the moment in time or the many moments that they were shamed, called out or judged for 
a. being too creative and wasting their time on creative pursuits or 
b. not being creative enough (can’t draw, can’t write, can’t sing, I’m not creative) I would be a wealthy woman. 
So many creative spirits have been crushed and gone into hiding.
It’s time for a new conversation around creativity and success.
An IBM study of 1,500 CEOs showed that creativity is the number 1 trait they are seeking in new hires.
And yet our schools are cutting funding to the arts.
Statistics show that by 2020 fully 50% of the workforce will be freelancers, either full or part time.
Our parents are telling their kids to choose a different path, one that will make them a “good wage”. 
As a parent of two young adults I get that you want your kids to be well provided for, safe and secure, but don’t you want them to also live a life of purpose and meaning? To be happy in their work?
It is possible to make a living doing what you love as an artist, writer, photographer, actor, musician, designer etc. Just because you don’t yet have the skills needed to build a business around your creativity does not mean that you are a failure or that you can’t learn or that you are wasting your time.
There is a fabulous quote by Andy Warhol, a very successful creative, who said: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Please stop perpetuating the myth of the Starving Artist.
Please stop believing in this myth if you are a creative.
Let’s change the conversation. We need creative thinkers and innovators. We need artists, writers and musicians. We need people who are non-linear thinkers who make creative connections others don’t see.
Be unstoppable in your pursuit of business skills to support your art. You can do this. I can do this. Together we can shift the cultural norm to one that sees creatives as valuable contributors to the global economy.
Imagine a world where everyone is working in their highest and best form of creative genius. Now is the time to rewrite the story.
End rant. Thanks for reading if you got this far.

Image credit: https://www.123rf.com/profile_ericbvd

Posted in

Leave a Comment