We all used to hear the phrase “Starving Artist.” Earlier in the days, people created this myth to identify the artist as low-income producers who were only concerned with art, had no desire for comfortable lives and financial success, as that would poison and distort art, and didn’t spent much time outside their studios. They let others discover them. Also, artists believed that struggle, complexity, and suffering were necessary components of creativity. The concept of dual-career or getting a second income was portrayed as the destruction that could bring stress, exhaustion, and guilt. 

Starving Artist is a carefully created myth, and artists should never use this term to define themselves or their practice. You have to value yourself. Who will be interested to work with a person who says things like “I have no money, I am starving for success, I can’t afford anything now, and I am stressed and so on…” You have to use your passion and talent, invest in yourself and change your mindset to open a door to new opportunities. All artists experience insecurity at some points in their careers. Don’t let these fears seize your productivity. Think in a positive light and doors will open and success will follow.

Lisa Congdon, US-based fine artist, author, and illustrator, talks a lot in her books that artists should move from a STARVING ARTIST’S MINDSET to having a THRIVING ARTIST’S MINDSET.

For example, “Focusing on how to make money from my art prevents me from making good work.”

You should say: “Putting effort towards making a living from my art allows me to do what I love.”

So, the lesson here is to pay attention to the negative messages you tell yourself, write them down and change those messages into positive ones. If you have difficulty doing it on your own, surround yourself with people who support you – family, friends, mentors – and ask them to help you redefine your statements, and turn fears into actions and things to work on.

In addition to this Starving Artists mindset, artists have to deal with the insufficient training they get art schools where their teachers that don’t talk about the business management side of the art world. Many fine-art faculty members want students to focus only on the art production and the theoretical component of their art practice but they shouldn’t undervalue the importance of business skills and include them as part of the programming.

What do you need to do to be confident and focused on your career and success:

1.Enter the art market with a plan or make a new plan you want to stick to (yearly, quarterly or monthly – I’ll talk more about it in my upcoming episodes). Have all your personal and artistic tools ready and reject all myths.

2. Have a well-thought-out philosophy about money: how much you want to earn as an artist, and how much you are willing to spend to earn it. By spending I mean are you willing to invest in yourself and your skills? That is very important!

Artists need to invest in their careers. That includes supplies, studio space, and if they work from home, they should make sure to eliminate any distractions. Artists should invest in their career development, like traveling to other countries, exhibiting at international art fairs and shows, and using helpful technology, such as creating mailing lists at mail chimp to send newsletters, for example, to grow their network. As well, do not be afraid to rely on professionals like accountants, lawyers, and mentors to help you with behind-the-scenes tasks; it will help you to dedicate as much time as possible on art production.

3. Lastly, it’s important to have a clear mindset and a set of goals for a successful career. If you are not willing to invest in your career, who will?

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