Starving Artists Anonymous Starts Here

I'll start this new blog by reposting from my art blog. I struck a vein with this drawing The Starving Artist Archetype is Dead, which kinda went viral. I had lots of great discussions as a result, culminating in this blog post, originally posted in 2013, and eventually leading to the website you are checking out now.

Here's a piece I did for an art contest on Facebook. I hate contests for all sorts of reasons (that is a post for another time), but I took it as an opportunity to start a discussion about the "Starving Artist Mindset" and the importance of teaching artists of all sorts to overcome it.
This is what the text says, in case you can't make it out:

I am so done with the romanticization of poverty.
It's an especially big problem among creative people. We are conditioned to fear Money, and to put off doing things that might help us succeed as artisans and skilled craftsmen.
Instead, we beg for a job, which we wind up HATING, and we call the next man a sellout for trying to make something happen.
Well, I don't mind if people talk... just don't come my way with that negativity.
I don't have time for that. 

Here's some comments I posted on Facebook, including some theory on empowering artists:

"I knew I wanted to do something characterizing poverty as evil. Particularly an evil that could (and should) be vanquished in the life of the artist. There is a long, honorable history of the artist as small businessperson participating in the marketplace that we need to be educated about, and which (in my opinion) is at odds with the Starving Artist mentality.

Today, the marketplace for any artist is nearly limitless. We don't have to find customers in our small towns or neighborhoods anymore. The internet allows our work to go places we personally will never visit.

I could go on forever... I just feel very strongly that artists (no matter how noncommercial their work) need to embrace the tradition/role of artist as small business person. Maybe it's just me, though..."

"Consumers don't buy 'art' per se. They buy products. Sometimes your art IS a product, and sometimes it's not.

For example, a talented singer who goes to church every Sunday and sings her guts out is making her art available for free (although the church is sho nuff making money off of her). No matter how well she sings, she is probably not going to get paid to sing in church, but if she records onto cd or mp3, NOW she has a product that some of her fellow churchgoers would buy. With a little marketing, she could find potentially thousands of fans around the world who would pay for her music.

So in my opinion, to truly empower artists, you must teach them to:

  1. Make their 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 products- Sometimes there are obvious products to make from one's art, and sometimes it takes some thought to come up with products. 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 something. 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."
This is a subject that is dear to my heart, and I think to other people's too. When I posted this picture on Facebook and some other social networks (along with that brief artist's statement), it got a pretty energetic and positive response.
Since I posted that, I've concluded that many artists need help and support to overcome the pervasive Starving Artist mindset, and I started Starving Artists Anonymous to be a resource and a support community for artists.
Click here to like Starving Artists Anonymous on Facebook, and let us know what we can do to be helpful!

CLICK HERE to buy a copy of this print and join the NEXT LEVEL Artists Club.

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