Countless people give up on their hopes and dreams of selling their art before they even start. Why is that?
Hi my name’s Carrie and today on Artist Strong, we’re gonna discuss the myth of the starving artist.
One false assumption I see both artist and non-artists make is that we only have one income stream from which to work and that would be the sale of our original art.
Today I have many examples in the online sphere of artists who have multiple income streams that help them live off of their art and grow and thrive. Flora Bowley and Tracy Verdugo are both great examples of artists who sell their original artwork and also run ecourses and live workshops as a source of income.
Income can also come from licensing your art, selling prints of your work or having your artwork printed on products that go in your home. This is something that artist Tara Reed is very good at doing. You could also sell limited edition prints of your art in addition to your original works. That’s something that seascape artist Christopher Lassen does.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you need to craft multiple income streams that speak to your heart as an artist.
What feels good to you? What excites you? Think of it outside the box. You don’t have to stick to one income stream to be measured successful.
Historically, Van Gogh is kind of identified as the classic starving artist, and yet there’s some irony to this because he was never starving during his life. In fact, he had a monthly allowance that his brother gave him. He was essentially sponsored. He had a patron in his brother who helped provide him materials and resources so that he could spend his time making art.
This notion of starving artist developed around him because he did not sell his own work during his lifetime, though he still had income coming in to make his art. I also believe his mental health issues cloud our discussion of this. There’s so much drama to his life story that he often comes up in our minds as someone to talk about when we look at the arts historically.
When you look at the Renaissance, many if not most of the big names that we think of: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, all of them were able to live successfully off of the sale of their work and they were commissioned to make art.
Institutions like the Catholic Church hired them to make their art. They had patrons who then supported their work and wanted their art. So they were able to thrive. You have artists like Pablo Picasso who made a lifetime of artwork and was able to exhibit and sell during his life to help live and keep making his art.
I’m seeing a lot of examples in our discussion today that suggest we don’t have to be a starving artist. In fact, the real issue at hand is that a lot of artists are scared to do the marketing or just don’t want to do the work.
Many artists don’t want to recognize that if you want to sell your art, you are in business and that means you have to make business based choices to help market and promote your art.
If you don’t want to do that, that’s fine, if you don’t want to sell your work. But I promise you this: you can’t be magically found. Maybe that happens to some people, but everyone else has to do the work.
The people who we think of as successful today, who are making money from their art, do it because they’ve worked hard. They’ve spent a lot of time to promote and connect with the right people, the people who want to buy their art.
Be Creatively Courageous: Share with me an inner belief that you’ve held around the starving artist myth. Has there been something that holds you back from selling your work or believing in your work enough to sell it? If that’s been a secret hope for you. Please share it in the comments below. Let’s start that conversation.
If you’ve found today’s dialogue worth listening to and watching, please consider sharing it with someone else who might also benefit.
Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next week.
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