Nov 2, 2015

Posted by in My Viewpoints | 0 Comments

Starving Artist: A Myth?

“Starving Artist” is a term any kid who chose to pursue the arts with fervor is familiar with. It’s the term we’ve always been met with as the reason why we need to value our math and science, because “where will art take us in life?” Any one of us can tell you we’ve heard that question, and similar, every time we’ve said that we were going to create a living based on our art. Most people in society today, at least here in the United States, find such an idea laughable.

What if I told you that it’s a myth, though? That the only reason a starving artist exists is because they don’t put value on their work? You’d probably laugh, right?

Well, it’s true. The only way a starving artist can honestly exist is due to two factors:

  1. The artist does not place value on their own work, and therefore always gives it away for free for “exposure” (you know, that stuff that doesn’t buy your groceries and has maybe a 10% chance of actually getting you a customer); or they sell it for far too cheap and don’t make a profit.
  2. Society does not value their work, and will not buy it so they give up; instead of trying to instead find their target market.

The biggest problem most artists face is the fact that we all forget to learn business alongside art. We’re so happy that we get to paint and be crafty, that we forget to learn how to actually be business-minded as well to make this work. If an artist also learns how to source for wholesale materials, figure out their profits, and value their time; then they’ll have a much better chance of being successful. On top of that, business classes would teach the artist how to market themselves, which is huge.

That’s of course if we’re talking about freelance artists though. How about mainstream, day-job artists?

You may not realize it, but there are artists all around, and you are subjected to their craft everyday without registering that such is the case.

Billboard ads? Artsit made those.
Favorite opening theme music in a show? Artist made that (music is an art).
Pretty table cloth you love? Yup, another artist.

Hell, I’m in the business of art!

My day-job is (presently) the head of the art department where I work; doing design drawings, technical layouts, and project management. I draw signs for a living, using my knowledge in graphic arts to make it happen. Better yet, I make enough to live off of. This isn’t a minimum wage job, and I do my job well enough that I earn raises and promotions. Even though it’s not what I went to college for (in fact, I don’t even have a degree), they hired me because I had a lot of art-based knowledge and understood the programs associated with them. That’s right, I got hired because I am an artist.

And I’m not alone. There are so many professions out there that rely on the arts it’s incredible! But since we’re all taught that art doesn’t get you anywhere in life, so many don’t pursue it. And those that do live with a bit of a stigma. We need to end that stigma, because the arts are a viable source of income. We need to instill in artists that their work and time is valuable.

After all, that beautiful still life painting on your wall didn’t create itself. Nor did the stained glass in church, or the song that you first danced to with your loved one. The world won’t survive on math and science alone, and there’s nothing lesser about an artist. Doctors are good for the body, and artists are good for the soul.

If we can squash the idea that artists don’t get far, then they will have the opportunity they deserve to really do what they’re able to do. And if we stop trying to take advantage of them, we’ll find society as a whole is enriched. Many artists stop creating for lack of appreciation and income. Imagine how much more beautiful the world would be if people valued artists more, and they weren’t all taught their passion would lead them to starve?

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