Starving Artist Remain Starving

Because they are good at it.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

I’m going to write from a place of authority on the subject. Having been a successful starving artist for over a decade — speaking from experience. If you are reading this post, chances are you too are a successful starving artist.

Becoming a starving artist is not an aspiration, nor should it become something to aspire to. In fact, I’m writing this because I wish the artist to stop. Stop devaluing your craft. Stop believing you are not worthy of success from your art. Please, just stop.

I wish for you to thrive as a result of your art.
I wish for you to experience the joy in owning your own home as a result of your art.
I wish for you the means to experience the success that comes from remaining true to your craft, whatever that may be.

Furthermore, the starving artist is not contributing to the growth and development of their creative community. In contrast, they are only demonstrating how creative professionals don’t need anything more than their ability to perform or produce something others enjoy.

Do you think those who enjoy your talent are starving?

No, and in fact, chances are they are appreciating your beautiful creation from the comfort of a home they own, with a lovely glass of wine, and at the end of a day’s work. Work they were compensated for.

Wouldn’t you want the same? How would it feel to be comfortable while you create, and while you appreciate the work your peers create?

I am guilty of this. I’ve been uncomfortable and wished for the financial means to invest into favorite photographers, painters, and authors. Often wanting to buy the latest book, or purchase a print from a fellow photographer’s first exhibition — just to show my support.

Because I wish for the same support.

We can not support our fellow creatives if we do not support ourselves. Nor can we expect it in return. If we take ownership of being a starving artist, we project to others that it’s OK to starve, literally. In fact, we almost make it look so appealing, they envy our lives.

The public, our friends, and family see the romantic side of working as a creative professional. Flexible hours doing as we please, when we please. The ugly truth is we are starving. We don’t want them to know we only ate one meal that day, so we project the image they wish to see.

Oh, here’s another Instagram post of a writer enjoying a cup of coffee while they work on their book at the local coffee shop. A cup of coffee they bought from the spare change they scrounged together. It’ll garner a few hundred likes from all those stuck in a cubicle wishing they were you, at that moment.

Let us be honest here, how many of you have actually chosen to live off cheap crap food for the sake of being an artist? Has fueling your body in this way resulted in your best work? Ok, maybe there are a few ringers out there, who had to starve their way to a creative breakthrough. In my decade of experience, not taking care of myself has only led to mediocre work.

The day you STOP being so damn good at being a starving artist is the day you will begin to BECOME a successful artist who THRIVES (and gains a few pounds!)

Words by Jennifer Langille, an ex-starving artist.