#LiesStarvingArtistsTell "You Can't Make Money With Your Art"

The concept of the Starving Artist is SO prevalent that most people are committed to the idea that opportunities for artists to make money are extremely rare.

The real truth is that they are not trained to see opportunity, even when it's right in front of them.

Like a lot of Lies Starving Artists Tell themselves, it's about mindset.  So let's talk about how to change your mind.


At Starving Artists Anonymous, we teach you to:

  1. Make your art. this should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how many so-called artists, poets, musicians and writers never actually make anything. Put up or shut up.
  2. Make product and service offerings. Sometimes there are obvious offerings to make from one's art, and sometimes it takes some thought to come up with them. This requires some creativity, but it is worth the effort.
  3. Understand and engage in Marketing. WARNING! You might have to read a book or pay for a course. Marketing is a dirty word in the art world, largely because it is sometimes the tail that wags the dog. That said, I think marketing is worth studying, especially if you have a specific vision and you don't want to compromise. Marketing is the art of finding like-minded individuals who want to support your efforts with their time, money, etc. Understanding and engaging in marketing will make you successful. Period.
  4. Build Systems that support the making, marketing, and delivering of goods and services to your audience. Good systems are convenient for you and your customers, clients, and/or patrons to use.


Since I posted this one panel comic strip on our Facebook page, I have gotten lots of people asking for how they can make money with their art.  I drew it as a reaction to people rejecting my help, so it is more snark than assistance.  

SO here I will return to actually offering something constructive.


Rather than creating a list of opportunities (maybe I'll do that later), I wanted to share something that REALLY helped me.

You see, too often people say "it's impossible" to make a living as an artist, when the problem is just that they don't know how it's done.  There are people out there doing it, so it's not an impossible dream. 

So this post is about changing your mindset so you can see opportunity better.

In this video, Mike Shreeve HTO (Head Troublemaking Officer) of the No Pants Project explains to his students how to change mindset to see opportunity everywhere.  

So get a pen and a notebook or journal and watch this video.

Some things to look and listen for:

  • RAS- Reticular Activating System, and how it can work against you.
  • Kelly and Conors Cycle of Emotional Change
  • How to Hack your brain to pull you Out of the "Valley of Despair" 
  • 5 Tools You Will Need to Reprogram the RAS to work in your favor.

Mike is a successful copywriter and novelist (he writes under pen names, before you start googling) who also teaches all kinds of people to make a living freelancing.   

I joined the No Pants Project coaching program in July of 2018 (and I have been doing comic strips and blog posts for them since January of 2019), so if you have questions about it, I am happy to talk to you about it.  There's tons of free content you can consume on the NPP YouTube Channel, blog, and podcast too.

In this video Mike talks about applying these ideas to freelancing, but this is useful even if you are selling your original art.  

Your brain is a super-powerful tool that filters all the stuff you encounter, and serves up what it thinks you want to see.  You need to use your mind in favor of your goals instead of having it work against you.

SOME TAKEAWAYS (in no particular order)

  1.  Stop Complaining So Much. Artists are emotional.  It is a great power and a great weakness.  Stop using that power to make yourself miserable. 
  2.  Look for Role Models.  You're probably wasting a lot of energy reinventing the wheel.  Look for people who are doing what you want to do and learn from them.
  3.  Expect Things to be Difficult.  It's hard to do stuff.  Hard, but not impossible.  This is good news!  It means when you are willing to do the work, you will leave the vast majority of your competitors behind.
  4.  Get outside of your head.  Write stuff down.  Journal.  Make lists.  Figure stuff out on paper.  It multiplies your effectiveness.
  5.  Take care of yourself.  You are the most valuable asset in your business, and always will be.  Sleep.  Eat right.  Exercise.  I'm not talking about being excessive, but you can't treat your body and brain like crap all the time and expect to be productive.  So if you're bad at self-care, try to incrementally improve your habits. It's good for business.
  6.  Stop Quitting. I know you're looking for secret knowledge, but almost any system you find is likely to work if you develop a persevering mindset.  I encourage you to really dig into what this video is teaching.  If you have questions, just ask me.

As I said above, you need to understand marketing.

Mike is a great resource, but he's definitely not the only good person to go to for that. We believe there is an abundance of wisdom and opportunity out there!

We study a lot of different role models here at Starving Artists Anonymous.  We also believe in sharing resources with each other, so everyone can thrive.

Do you have people you look to as role models when it comes to marketing your products and services?

Share your favorite go-to marketing inspirations below!

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