Contrary to popular belief, there's no reason anyone has to be a starving artist. Pursuing an artistic career may be difficult, but it can be fulfilling both professionally and financially. The key starts with you and how you see the work you do.
Use these following tips to leave the starving artist mentality behind and have the artist career you've always wanted.
1. Stop Saying You're a Starving Artist
Words have power, and if you constantly tell yourself you're a starving artist, that is what you will be. Change how you think about your artistic work and where you want to be in your career.
And the next time someone asks what you do you respond with "I'm a writer/actor/musician" etc. The more you affirm your life as an artist, the more likely it is to be true.
2. Don't Only Use Money to Measure Success
If you're just starting out in your career or struggling to make progress, you're likely not making much money from your art, and you have other work to support yourself. Instead of viewing the income you make at your "real job" as evidence you're not a real artist, view it as seed money to pursue your artistic career.
The less you have to worry about money, the easier it is to pursue low-paid opportunities, take classes and participate in workshops that will help you transition into your artistic career full-time.
3. Diversify Your Income
If you're saying you only want to make money from acting or you only want to make money as a novelist, you're leaving a lot of money on the table. There are many opportunities to earn money in adjacent careers to the one you want to pursue.
If you're a writer, you can teach or work as a freelancer or be a writing coach. A visual artist can teach classes or pursue graphic design work.
While these side jobs may not be the ultimate goal, they provide the opportunity to practice your skills and potentially make a full-time income from work that still allows you to be creative.
4. Set Achievable Goals
Part of the starving artist mentality means you're not setting and completing goals that will help you achieve your dreams. You likely won't go from free children's theater to Broadway overnight, but you can set a goal to go on five auditions, with the ultimate goal being to land one new role over the next 90 days.
The idea is to have small goals you're working towards to eventually achieve your goal of being a full-time artist.
5. Research Other Successful Artists
You're not in this alone, and you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Research other successful artists and see how they did it. If you have friends or relatives who are successful in their craft, offer to buy them a drink and pick their brains to see what they did to accomplish their goals.
6. Get Serious About Money
Part of the starving artist mentality is that money isn't necessary if you're in it for the right reasons. Just because you're an artist doesn't mean you should be poor or not get paid for your work. Take time to do a financial audit.
Ask yourself if you have limiting beliefs regarding getting paid for your work.
Do you know how much you need to make to live solely off of your art? Are you undercharging for your work? The more you get real about your financial situation, the quicker you can remove the "starving" label from the "artist" one.
7. Treat Your Art as a Job
Your art may not be your full-time job, but it is a job. The more you treat it like a job, the more it will reward you like one. Take classes, invest in courses and have a professional face for your artistic business, whether that's professionally done headshots, a website or portfolio.
If you don't take your art seriously, no one else will.