If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).
Join over 77,235 Subscribers Today.
Every artist knows that the path to success is largely rocky and unpaved; filled with obstacles and challenges along the way. If you are a struggling artist, you may have felt abandoned by your family and friends occasionally. You might have been discouraged by others who called you foolish or immature. You might have been told to grow up and get a real job. But your creative soul knows there’s more to just getting a safe job and being just like everybody else.
Let’s admit it. Being an ‘artist’ is not the most practical career choice to make. It’s highly unpredictable, and you need a certain degree of luck to be able to break through. Choosing to be an artist seems like voluntary poverty. And in these hard economic times we are facing today,being an ‘artists’ seems all the more impractical, if not a stupid career path to take.
It is in this world of consumerism where people are taught to go corporate and look down upon artists and creative souls. We are all aware of the ‘starving artist’ archetype. That’s how society sees anyone who is ‘unconventionally creative’. You’re doomed to become starving artists unless you give up your artistic aspirations.
The ‘Starving Artist’ evokes a romantic and mysterious feeling around it. The image evokes stories of the past; of artists, sculptors, musicians and actors who chose to live a life of poverty to pursue their dreams of success. It particularly evokes memories during the 18th Romanticism period. You can imagine young, enthusiastic men from the countryside dreaming to be artists who moved to the city and find themselves living the Bohemian lifestyle.
Even our greatest artists in history did not escape the fate of the Starving Artist. The Bohemian lifestyle—or unconventional living in the company of people with similar interests for artistic pursuits—is a common lifestyle chosen by artists then and today. Most did not see fame and fortune during their lifetime, only to have their works become worth millions of dollars after they passed away. One example is the great Vincent Van Gogh. Now, he is considered to be a true genius in art. Van Gogh’s works are worth a fortune now but during his lifetime, Van Gogh only sold one single painting–to his own brother.
These legendary artists must have had found their fate funny when they died–all the sacrifices they made were never reaped and enjoyed. They can only look down from the afterlife and see how they’re valued and revered now. But if you think about it, maybe it wasn’t because the great artists weren’t given the chance to succeed. Or it wasn’t because these geniuses were just jinxed. In fact, most of the great artists of our history have poor financial sense. They prefer to squander their money with booze, drugs and women. Some were even economically foolish people with no plan or direction in life.
Because of how literature and popular media portrayed artists, the artists themselves were made to believe that they should lead a life of poverty. They hold on to this notion that art made from the impoverished article is superior from that of a well-off artist. But I beg to differ.
First of all, the ‘Path of the Starving Artist’ leads artists to a path that isn’t helpful, to themselves and to their careers. Poverty doesn’t always equate to better art. Knowing yourself and mastering your technique leads to better art; and poverty is only a distraction. Yes, the Starving Artist is a Myth! There are already plenty of artists that lived comfortably because of their art. Rembrandt was very successful in his time. So was Charles Dickens and Andy Warhol. Of course it’s more tempting to romanticize stories of failure, like the stories of Van Gogh and Mozart.
But on the other side of the spectrum, one can be in danger of becoming a ‘sellout’. Most artists dread becoming a sellout more than being a starving artist. Being a sell out is a term used within the artist group only; labeling those who are believed to have sold their artistic beliefs and aesthetics to have outward success.
But artists must not feel guilty to make a fortune from their art. You are not selling out because you’re making money–artists still need to eat, after all.
Today, choosing the creative career path doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of poverty. Despite the recession, you can still find tons of jobs in the industry. It is time to debunk the ‘starving artist’ myth and believe that you can earn a decent income over a job or business that you will love.
Here are just a few fine arts-related jobs that you might want to consider:
These are just a few of the career paths a creative-minded individual can consider. Of course, you can go freelance and not have to be associated with a particular design company. Better yet, you can be your own boss and start your own business. People innately love art; and they are always willing to pay for anything new and beautiful. The belief that art and business don’t mix comes from the same idiot that created the starving artist myth.
Join over 77,235 Subscribers Today.
Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.