Stop using the phrase “Starving Artist” IMMEDIATELY and FOREVER!!!
Today, I’d like to talk about the total myth epitomized by the popular phrase; ‘you can’t make a living as an artist’. The other day I was in the car with my daughter and her friend when the subject of careers came up. My daughter and her friend both happen to be very good artists. Yet, when asked what she wanted to do as a career, the friend said that she didn’t want to be an artist because “you can’t make a living as an artist.” That got my artistic blood boiling. I immediately told her, “of course you can”.
Making a living as an artist is mostly like any other endeavor. It depends on how hard you work at it. That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges. There are some very real reasons why it seems to be more of a struggle for artists, in particular, than other professions. Reasons such as: in order for artists to make money, they need to do basic business tasks which takes an entirely different mode of thinking than it does in the creation of art; When the economy gets tight, art tends to be the first area to be cut, so artistic jobs such as graphic designer become scarce; and then there’s the whole subjective nature of art which makes it a challenge finding customers that are attracted to our particular artwork, and who are willing to buy it.
That being said, there are literally thousands upon thousands of artists out there making the creation of art their sole livelihood. Many of them would be considered very wealthy. So why does this myth still get reinforced?
It has been widely written in psychological circles that the more someone says or hears something, the more we start to believe it. In the psychological world this is called the “mere exposure effect”.
In “The Secret” they talk about the phenomenon that occurs when–the more you say something, or give credence to something–the more that energy or vibration gets created and perpetuated, bringing about the exact thing that’s being spoken, thought about, and acted upon. That means that the more people talk about “struggling artists” or say things like “you can’t make money as an artist”, the more it becomes true. If you want to know more about “The Secret”, you can find out more here:
The more people say it, the more people believe it, true; but more importantly, it makes people and society change the way they think and behave toward artists. People start to think that they shouldn’t have to pay much for artwork, because they believe artists don’t make a lot of money. Another thought is that you wouldn’t have to pay what art is worth, because the artist is making a living doing what they love, and would create the work anyway. Imagine if you thought about other careers that way. Employees in other lines of work think, talk and expect to be making 15, 20 or 30 dollars an hour and up. The higher the better, right? But why should an artist be okay making what might amount to only $5.50 per hour for a piece of work they toiled over for hours, simply because society expects them to be a “starving artist” and because they love what they do?
There are others that have also taken up this issue. One such person, has created a new phrase. One that is much more optimistic and positive, in an effort to change the energy and viewpoint of the masses, and bring about prosperity to artists. He suggests swapping out “the starving artist” with the phrase “The Abundant Artist” to reinforce the idea that artists can be prosperous and making an ‘abundant’ amount of money and whatever else you feel is the result of success. He has used this idea in his own blog, website, and personal business as an artist’s business coach.
SO HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO!
First of all, no matter who you are; artist, art fan, buyer or average citizen, please stop using the phrase “starving artist” and saying things like “you can’t make money as an artist,” even if you don’t necessarily believe it. This will help us change the culture of devaluing or under-appreciating artists.
Secondly, if you are artistic and you hear one of these phrases, DON’T BELIEVE IT. It’s not true! If you love it, and work hard to make a business out of it, you can make just as much money as if you were a veterinarian, carpenter or sales manager. It’s all up to you.
Thanks for listening to my soap box speech.