Whether painter, actor, dancer, potter, or any other artist, it seems there are some commonly held beliefs that all starving artists have.
Starving Artist Mindsets
Starving makes me a better artist. My biggest pet peeve of all time. I see so many artists who refuse to take a business class, refuse to learn about financial planning, and think that they are a better artist for it. Shakespeare was rich. So was Norman Rockwell, Picasso, Elvis, and a litany of other artists.
Money is evil. Money is just a tool. The pursuit of money is necessary to live in most places, so learning to value your art in terms of money simply allows you to feed yourself and provide shelter for your family.
The Big Break will come. Instead of creating a plan or creating something themselves, the starving artist believes that their Big Break will come and they’ll be instantly rich, famous, and happy.
I don’t need training – I’m brilliant. Sure, you might be brilliant. More likely, you were just right for a particular role, painted one canvas that resonated, or had some other one shot hit. Brilliant artists who have training have long lasting, productive careers that are fulfilling and leave behind a body of work that is full of brilliance.
My family & friends say I’m amazing. Of course they do. Do you trust their opinion? It’s good to have supporters and people who love you, but to have a sustainable career, you need (unfortunately) the approval of people who don’t know you. That’s why the audition phases of American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance are so painful – many artists have never ventured out of the family bubble.
I need a day job. While you do need to make some money, you also need time for your art. If your day job is killing your creativity and not leaving you enough time to work on your craft, then something has to change. I’ve seen it happen. If your creativity goes away, your ability to do your day job will too.
I don’t need a day job. On the flip side, if you simply spend your days being artsy and don’t make real world considerations, you won’t be able to get training, buy supplies, market yourself, or feed yourself. It’s pretty hard to be creative when your stomach is growling.
It’s okay to sell out your values. Just because being a working artist is difficult doesn’t mean you should try to find the easiest route. Doing illegal or immoral things just take your creativity and flush it down the toilet. If you are a dancer, there are better things you can do than take a job as a stripper.
Starving Artists Believe That They Shouldn’t
I shouldn’t charge too much for my work. Some artists are so excited about finishing a project and getting attention that they don’t realize that they should charge more for it. There are endless stories of famous artists selling their work for a pittance before they become well known. Don’t be that guy (or gal). If your work flies off the shelf, it might be time to charge more for your art.
I can’t say no to any jobs or commissions. Learn this one early and you won’t starve. You only have so much time to create. If you take a job that doesn’t pay or pays too little, you won’t have time for the ones that do. Decide how much your time is worth, and don’t take anything less than you set for yourself.
I don’t need technology. I’ve heard that some artists believe that selling or displaying their work on the Internet cheapens it. You really, really need to be found online. Even if you don’t sell your work directly, people will research you, your art, or your show before they decide to purchase.
I’m doing all the right things with my business. The Internet is breaking down old business models. The music industry is decentralizing, art brokers find they must use the internet, and filmmakers are creating new webisodes every day. If you are still counting on a record deal, a gallery showing, or a movie deal, then you are not doing all you can.
What about you? Which of these beliefs have you dealt with, and how did you overcome them? Are there any that are missing? Let us know in the comments below.
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