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The Starving Artist Myth — Debunked!

The Starving Artist Myth — Debunked!

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

Aletta de Wal calls herself an “Artist Advisor”. She is actually a powerhouse of a coach who guides artists from starving to successful, and helps them do this while feeling great about their careers. Aletta’s gift is teaching artists how to structure their lives and activities to get the most out of every plan, think in new creative ways and celebrate achievements. Visit her website, www.artistcareertraining.com to get more information about building your career. (She’s also an Artbistro Partner!)

ArtsyShark: Artists launching their careers need to have a good “road map” of what is ahead of them, but often have belief systems in place that are faulty. Could you discuss some of the myths about artists that hold people back from successful careers?

Aletta de Wal: Myths serve no purpose at all except as real roadblocks to the careers of the artists who subscribe to them. Here is a sampling of the 12 myths I see most often:

Myth #1: If I just do my art, everything else will work out.
Many artists still mistakenly believe that they can just create their artwork and let other people worry about the business side. You must focus on your art and on your business.

Myth #8: Artists are not business people.
Artists often imagine that representation means that the gallery will handle all of the business side of art. Wrong! Galleries are business partners, not caretakers. You need to promote your art career and run your own business.

Myth #9: All good artists are poor.
Artists who believe that “true” artist is “starving” think this lifestyle keeps them “in touch” with their creativity. Even the archetypal starving artist, Vincent van Gogh, wasn’t doing so badly. He worked in an important gallery for six years and his brother, a wealthy gallery dealer, sent him a generous monthly stipend. You owe it to yourself to make the kind of living you want and are willing to work for.

Myth #12: One big break will make my career.
There is no such thing as overnight success. All great achievements are made up of many small acts. Tenacity, perseverance, and preparedness dispel the illusion of instant success. Many small breaks will create a sustainable career as long as you take one step at a time towards your future goals.

Once you demolish these myths and understand the realities of being an artist, you can make choices to build your own version of a creative career path.

Next: The “Realities” of Being an Artist →


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