Why the Story of the Starving Artist Needs to Die

In my latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, I debunk the myth of the starving artist and lay out a plan for how you can make a living off your creative talents. Here’s an excerpt from the book.

Why the Story of the Starving Artist Needs to Die

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.Michelangelo Buonarotti

In 1995, an American professor made an unusual discovery. At Syracuse University in Florence, Rab Hatfield was trying to match the scenes of the Sistine Chapel to the dates Michelangelo had painted each of them.

Since the artist had received commissions in various installments, the professor thought there might be a paper trail, so he went to the city archives. Surprised at how easy it was to locate five-hundred-year-old bank records, he began reconstructing a more accurate timeline for how the most famous ceiling in the world came to be.

That’s when he saw it.

“I was really looking for something else!” the professor yelled into the phone from his office in Italy, decades later. “Every time I run across something, it’s because I was looking for something else, which I consider real discovery. It’s when you don’t expect it that you really discover something.”

With a PhD from Harvard, Professor Hatfield had begun his career at Yale in 1966 before moving to Syracuse University in 1971, and in all that time of teaching art history, he had never encountered anything like this.

What he found in those records was not what you would expect to find digging around in the bank account of an artist, even one whose fame would grow with each passing century.

“I don’t know how much you know about Michelangelo,” he told me, “but usually they taught us that he kind of struggled like Vincent van Gogh.”

For centuries, this is what historians believed about the great Renaissance master. He was just another Starving Artist, struggling to make ends meet. Michelangelo himself embraced this image, living frugally and often complaining about money. He once wrote in a poem that his art had left him “poor, old and working as a servant of others.”

But it turns out he wasn’t telling the truth.

When Rab Hatfield dug into those old bank records, the truth about the Renaissance’s most famous artist was finally revealed. He was not struggling at all. He was not poor, and he was not starving for his art—a fact we have been getting wrong ever since.

Michelangelo was, in fact, very rich. One record Professor Hatfield found showed a balance of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which was a rare sum of money for an artist at the time. When he saw those figures, the professor forgot all about the Sistine Chapel.

With his curiosity piqued, he went to see if there were more bank records, and there were more—many more. In the end, he uncovered a fortune worth roughly $47 million today, making Michelangelo the richest artist of the Renaissance.

And to this day, this is a story that surprises us.


We are accustomed to a certain narrative about artists, one that indicates they are barely getting by. But Michelangelo did not suffer or starve for his work. He was a multimillionaire and successful entrepreneur, a “pivotal figure in the transition of creative geniuses from people regarded, and paid, as craftsmen to people accorded a different level of treatment and compensation,” in the words of journalist Frank Bruni.

In other words, the master sculptor and painter wasn’t just some art school dropout struggling for his art. He was a rainmaker.

When I asked Professor Hatfield what Michelangelo’s millions mean for us today, he said, “I don’t think it means a whole lot.” But I disagree. I think this changes everything.

Myth of the starving artist

Two hundred years after Michelangelo died, Henri Murger was born the son of a tailor and concierge in France. Living in Paris, he was surrounded by creative geniuses and dreamed of joining them, but he grew frustrated with his failure to find financial security.

In 1847, Murger published Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of stories that playfully romanticized poverty. The result was some literary acclaim, persistent struggle, and an untimely end to a penniless life.

The book limped along after the author’s death, being adapted first as the opera La Bohème and later as a film, eventually achieving widespread acclaim with spinoffs including Rent and Moulin Rouge.

Murger’s Scènes launched the concept of the Starving Artist into the public’s understanding as the model for a creative life. To this day, it endures as the model for what we imagine we think of the word artist.

The story of the Starving Artist overshadows the quiet, relatively unknown tale of Michelangelo’s success and has become our most popular understanding of what’s possible for creative people—which is to say, not much.

Today, we find the remnants of this story nearly everywhere we look. It is the advice we give a friend who dreams of painting for a living, what we tell a coworker who wants to write a novel, or even the cautionary tale we tell our children when they head out into the real world. Be careful, we say ominously. Don’t be too creative. You just might starve.

But what we forget is that the story of the Starving Artist is a myth. And like all myths, it may be a powerful story, one we can orient our entire lives around, but in the end, it is still just a story.

Thanks to the power of this myth, many of us take the safe route in life. We become lawyers instead of actresses, bankers instead of poets, and doctors instead of painters. We hedge our bets and hide from our true calling, choosing less risky careers, because it seems easier. Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.

But what if you could make a living as an artist, and you didn’t have to starve to do it? What would that change about the way we approach our work and how we consider creativity’s importance in our world today? What would that mean for the careers we choose and the paths we encourage our kids to follow?

In the early Renaissance, artists did not have reputations for being diligent workers. They were considered manual laborers, receiving meager commissions for their work. Michelangelo, however, changed all that.

After him, every artist began to see a “new pattern, a new way of doing things,” in the words of Bill Wallace, professor of art history at Washington University in St. Louis. Michelangelo “established the idea that an artist could become a new figure in society and have a higher social standing, and also that they could become financially successful.”

Michelangelo did not need to starve for his creations, and neither do you. When the painter of the Sistine Chapel amassed an incredible fortune and secured his legacy as one of history’s masters, he broke the glass ceiling for future generations.

Today, however, his contribution has been all but forgotten. We have bought into the Myth of the Starving Artist, thinking of artists as unfortunate Bohemians who struggle at the lowest end of society. This myth is hurting creative work everywhere, and it must be put to rest.

Rarely do we think of creatives as wealthy or successful, even cracking jokes about the wastefulness of art degrees and theater classes. We have heard how pursuing creativity is not a safe career bet, whether that means chasing an interest in literature, music, or some other artistic endeavor. All my life, I heard it from well-meaning teachers, friends, and relatives. The advice was always the same: Get a good degree, have something to fall back on, and don’t quit your day job.

The truth, though, is quite different.

Creativity, though a nice outlet for self-expression, is not something we think a person should go “all in” on for a career. Because, odds are, you’ll starve. Right?

Sometimes, though, an artist does succeed: a singer releases a platinum record, an author hits a bestseller list, a filmmaker launches a blockbuster. We tend to dismiss these moments as rare instances of an artist getting lucky or selling out. But what if that isn’t the whole picture?

When we look at many of history’s most famous artists, we see something curious. It’s the same thing we observe in the lives of countless creatives who are making a living off their art today. When we hear the cautionary tales and warnings about what it means to be an artist, there’s an important truth we must learn to embrace: You don’t have to starve.

A new kind of artist

In this book, I want to offer a very simple but challenging argument: Real artists don’t starve.

Making a living off your creative talent has never been easier, and to show you it’s possible I will share historical examples of well-known artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs who did not have to suffer to create their best work. And I will also introduce you to a contemporary group of professionals who are experiencing surprising amounts of success in their creative work and how you can join them.

Finally, I will try to convince you that the idea of the Starving Artist is a useless myth that holds you back more than it helps you produce your best work.

Today, with more opportunity than ever to share our work with the world, we need a different model for creative work. The Myth of the Starving Artist has long since overstayed its welcome, and what we need now is a New Renaissance, a return to a model for art and business that doesn’t require creative workers to suffer and starve.

We all have creative gifts to share, and in that respect, we are all artists. The world needs your work—whether that’s an idea for a book, a vision for a startup, or a dream for your neighborhood— and you shouldn’t have to struggle to create it.

What does it mean to be a “real artist”? It means you are spending your time doing the things that matter most to you. It means you don’t need someone else’s permission to create. It means you aren’t doing your work in secret, hoping someone may discover it someday. It means the world is taking your work seriously.

Do you have to become a millionaire like Michelangelo? Not at all. This is not a book about how to get rich selling art. It is a description of the path many professional artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs have walked and one you would be wise to follow, if you want to join them.

The goal here is not to get rich, but to build a life that makes creating your best work not only possible but practically inevitable. And so, I think we should exchange this idea of being a Starving Artist with a new term: Thriving Artist. If you don’t want your best work to die with you, you must train yourself to think and live differently than the ways you’ve been told artists behave. You must not starve; you have to thrive.

Inspired by the Michelangelo story, I was curious to see if there were other artists out there who were succeeding. What I discovered was that a New Renaissance was not only possible, it was already happening. In my research I encountered creatives in nearly every field who weren’t starving at all.

The more stories I found, the more common threads began to emerge. These artists may not have known of Michelangelo’s riches, but they embodied his approach to creative work and all followed a similar set of strategies I’ve now captured and distilled in this book.

Here they are, the principles every Thriving Artist lives by—the Rules of the New Renaissance:

  1. The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you become one.
  2. The Starving Artist strives to be original. The Thriving Artist steals from his influences.
  3. The Starving Artist believes he has enough talent. The Thriving Artist apprentices under a master.
  4. The Starving Artist is stubborn about everything. The Thriving Artist is stubborn on vision but flexible on details.
  5. The Starving Artist waits to be noticed. The Thriving Artist cultivates patrons.
  6. The Starving Artist needs no one. The Thriving Artist finds a scene.
  7. The Starving Artist always works alone. The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.
  8. The Starving Artist does his work in private. The Thriving Artist practices in public.
  9. The Starving Artist works for free. The Thriving Artist always works for something.
  10. The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns as much of his work as possible.
  11. The Starving Artist does one thing. The Thriving Artist does many things.
  12. The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make more art.

For the rest of this book, we will explore these rules in the context of three major themes: mind-set, market, and money.

In each part, we will be taking a significant step that will us shift from Starving Artists to Thriving Artists.

First, we master our mind-set, tackling the internal challenges and conflicts we will face to break out of the Starving Artist paradigm. We can’t change our lives until we change our minds.

Then, we master the market, exploring the importance of relationships in creative work and how to usher our art into the world.

Finally, we master money, looking at what it means to not only make a living off our work but put money to work for us so that we can use it as a means to do better work.

Each chapter is based on one of the twelve rules mentioned above, along with stories from history and original case studies from the hundreds of interviews I conducted with contemporary creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs. The rules are not hard and fast as much as they are principles, proven strategies to help you succeed. The more of these you follow, the more likely your success will be, and vice versa.

This book is a manual designed to help you create work that matters. As you encounter the stories and lessons it contains, I hope you are challenged to follow in the footsteps of those who have come before you. I hope you realize that being a Starving Artist is a choice, not a necessary condition of doing creative work, and whether or not you starve is up to you.

And I hope you are emboldened to join the ranks of the New Renaissance, embracing Michelangelo’s belief that you can live both a creative life and a prosperous one, declaring to yourself and the world that real artists don’t starve—at least, they don’t have to.

Click here to download your free copy of the Introduction of Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Pre-order the paperback edition of Real Artists Don’t Starve and get the following bonuses at dontstarve.com:

  • Artist edition of the RADS workbook
  • Writer edition of the RADS workbook
  • 7-week book study Facebook group
  • Exclusive discount on Real Artists Don’t Starve Course ($80 off)

How does rejecting the myth of the starving artist impact you? What will change about how you approach your craft? Share in the comments.

119 thoughts on “Why the Story of the Starving Artist Needs to Die

  1. Jeff – This is brilliant and I love it! I will share with my three kids, two in college (one graduating in MechE but whose deep passion is Music, and one an English major studying abroad in Firenze right now), and my youngest, a junior in high school planning to go into digital animation & film. It inspires me so much, too! I will preorder the book and share about it. You clearly have put your heart & soul into this message and it shows in the intro. Thank you for consistently providing value & encouragement in all you do; it has helped me along my journey, for sure.

  2. You turn the myth of the starving artist on it’s head! I think every high school graduate needs to read this book, as well as every artist who has ever struggled with thinking they had to have a “real” job to make a living and then they could indulge their art. You show that it’s possible to be an artist and make a living. Can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

  3. Love this so far. I’ve read everything you sent me and haven’t given you a penny for any of it. I guess I need to buy this book when it comes out. My mind is changing and my approach is evolving thanks to your influence and the recommendations you have given me to connect with others! Things are changing for the better! Thanks, Jeff!!

  4. Hi Jeff,
    What you have said is indeed true. The principles you mention apply to nearly all areas of human endeavour. With information becoming a raw material now it bodes well for a collaborator than a loner. Mistakes become learning opportunities not something people chide one about. The ability to reach like minded people has increased exponentially. All it needs is for one to dive in regardless. Be a student, a child, a curious experimental child of Man.

  5. This is Great Jeff,
    The idea of the Starving Artist can translate to so many different areas of our lives. I see it as that we all have a God given creative talent, idea, concept in each of us. In pursing that talent, idea etc..we can find our purpose. In all of that the money and recognition will come. The Starving Artist is the pursuit of the money and recognition and thinking that is our purpose. Just how I think of it.

  6. Jeff,

    Your book, The Art of Work, was an influence in my decision to retire early and write a book. I am on my final edit before I start looking for an agent. I think your new book will be a tremendous help to me in finding my way to a fulfilling new career as a writer. I appreciate you always being there with knowledge and inspiration for those of us trying to find our voices and share them with the world. Looking forward to another life-changing read!


  7. Loved the intro of “Real Artists, Don’t Starve”! Excited to read the rest! Looks like it will be a MUST read for those of us in the creative community who have been hemmed in by the “myth”. Thanks so much Jeff!


  8. Can’t wait to read this book. I wanted to be an artist (painter) when I was a teen. My family managed to convince me I would starve to death. As an adult, my family tried to hammer writing out of me…didn’t work. And yet, I work a job I despise to keep from “starving to death.” I am more than ready to jump ship at this point.

  9. Wow! It is amazing how changing our mindsets change our lives so extensively. I can’t wait to read the book.

  10. Thank You Jeff For, Such An Interesting Introduction To, What Looks Like, A Brilliantly Written Book …
    In A Sense, What You’ve Done, Is Like Turning The Myth, 360 Degrees Full Circle Whilst, Landing It, Straight, On Its Head In, The Process …
    When Young, I Was Always Very ‘Arty’ And A Creative Person In General …
    I Constantly Wrote, Loved Drawing, Designing New Clothing (On Paper) And Actually Wanted To Be, Either A Writer Or, A Fashion Designer …
    However, Pressures From Numerous / Many Sources, Made It An ‘Impossible’ Dream So …
    Now Aged 53, A Lot Of Water ‘Under’ The Bridge And Many ‘Roads’ Travelled I Feel, I ‘Need’ To Write A ‘True Life’ Book Which, Will Hopefully ‘Help’ Many People …
    Just Reading, The Beginning Of, “Real Artists, Don’t Starve”, Has Definately Given Me More ‘Insight’, ‘Drive’ And ‘Confidence’ For Me, To Take My ‘Idea’ And ‘Run With It’ …
    I Think, After Keeping ‘Journals’ About, What I’ve ‘Endured’, Throughout My ‘Life’ For, Near Enough, 45 Years … I’m ‘Definitely’ Ready To, ‘Share’ My Story …
    I’d Like To Thank You Personally Jeff For, ‘All’ Of Your ‘Help’ And ‘Congratulate’ You On, What Is, A Brilliant, Outstanding Piece, Of Written Work …
    Many Thanks, Once Again …
    Wishing You, Much Success For The Future …
    Trish x

  11. Really love this post ( and am loving the book), and those 12 points for thriving artists really hit home. I especially appreciate you mention that the ‘thriving artist does many things’ as this is something I have pondered for some time. I have waaay too many interests and fit into the polymath/renaissance woman category, and I’ve always felt bad about this because it’s so hard for me to pick the ‘one thing’ I want to be known for. Your podcast has really helped me embrace the fact that having a portfolio life is actually a good thing, and it’s true. A great example of artists that are rocking more than one art form and aren’t specializing are those that get into mixed media art or digital art, which can mix photography, the written word, and so many other things. And now that books and blogs are containing more multimedia ( and there’s more demand for it) it’s made me see that I can and should include my photography in my work.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! It’s been fun to follow your journey. I love what you’re doing. Btw, I don’t think you need to pick one thing. I’ll talk more about that in a later post, which is also an excerpt from the book. Stand by!

  12. Well, so far I have been a starving artist, although I did cheat a little by teaching English. Okay, that is not very creative work but I am recovering! Stumbling upon your work is helping me on my way. Thank you!

  13. I agree with a lot of this, and really looking forward to this book.

    I definitely agree that the myth of the starving artist is a myth, but in a slightly different way – I don’t think we have to make money directly from our work, or to get big sales, for it to be a success, or make it our full time job to fulfil our dreams. Success is when you make the work you were born to make, to the best standard you can, and share it – not when you sell lots of copies and get huge subscriber lists – though they are both great ambitions to have, and great achievements.

    We can work a full time or part time job and do this professionally part time (I know many who do). My one concern with this concept – is that we then make money, and numbers, and subscriber lists, our dreams and our primary motive. When art is a merely support system for business and making money, the art suffers, and loses integrity and authenticity. We grow more concerned with what sells, than what really matters to us.

    My own personal way of approaching this, is to have a life/writing coaching business, do workshops, and speaking (all of which I love to do), to pay the bills – and allow me to write the books I want to write. Right now I’m only beginning, so I need another job to pay the bills whilst I launch the business. Long term, my hope is to have a successful business, and use it to support and go alongside my writing. I want to free myself from the need to make money from my art – writing – by being a creative entrepreneur.

    Liz Gilbert, even when writing for major magazines and having books published, and making money from her work, kept working at a NYC cafe. Even, for a time, after Eat Pray Love was successful. In Big Magic, she said ‘We should never burden our art with the responsibility of bringing in our main income”. I love that.

    So yes, I completely agree you don’t have to starve as an artist – but it doesn’t have to be your full time living for you to be fulfilled and create the work.

    And if by stealing you mean copying people’s ideas – that’s wrong. Stealing bits and pieces of others work and adding your own unique take, being influenced by others work, that’s normal, that’s happened all throughout history – but copying, that’s just wrong. And there’s a very fine line there.

    1. Hey James! Thanks for your thoughts here. I do actually disagree with Liz a little bit here, but I get the sentiment. I always hear very successful artists saying this, which is ironic. At any rate, the point is you don’t have to make a living off your art, but if starving is keeping you from creating, then that’s a problem. Because you don’t HAVE to starve. Regarding your comment on stealing, here’s what I mean by that: https://goinswriter.com/artist-thief/

      1. Hey Jeff, thanks for replying. I completely agree that if starving is keeping you from creating, that’s a problem, without a doubt – and I agree, we don’t have to starve. And thanks for clarifying stuff on stealing, that’s super helpful. I’ve had my work copied before, and it’s not nice. Stealing as you define it seems very different, and something all artists do to a degree. Thanks.

  14. Hey Jeff, thanks for sharing your new book´s insights in this preview. I already ordered and can´t wait to read the rest of your book!

    I grew up with a wannabe artist parent. Also little art was created over the years, if things didn´t work out , it was the “artist nature” being responsible for the struggles with economical stuff and all else. Many artist friends of my parents also struggled, including unhealthy habits that didn´t make life for their kids particularly easy.

    Thus it took me 3 years to allow myself to state that I want to continue my working life as an “artist”. Even now I prefer to say I am a “writer” something that allows me to focus on the craft aspect rather then on something lofty like creative genius etc…

    We have two young kids and I feel very irresponsible at times dreaming of pursuing such a “dangerous” career. I am well aware that writing and publishing is a real entrepreneurial business today (I am preparing to launch my first novel right now) but as you write in your book, “serious” people still look down on you. So allowing my “serious grown-up” self of a scientist to transform into a writer still scares me out of my mind at times…

    So, I guess I am the perfect target for your new book and I am very much looking forward to become an “aspiring artist” human guinea pig!

    Thanks, Jeff, for creating such encouraging content, and all best for your launch!

  15. Wow! I’m sharing this link right now with some of my friends who are also creative but, like me, have been struggling to get traction on achieving their dreams. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book, it sounds like a great one!

  16. Such a fine and genuinely encouraging essay. Last century, my high school art teacher did three things for which I will always remember him as a personal hero. 1. He entered several of my paintings in a national scholastic contest and I was recognized by that organization. 2. He refused to paint a mountain scape for my mother, telling her she already had an artist in her family. 3. He told me I could make a living and a life with my art. That was a long time ago, and with great emotion for all the lost years, I can still see/hear him urging me on. I suspect he had a hand in my finding your essay, and I am glad of it. It’s never too late to honor such support and kindness. Thank you, Jeff and Mr. Milroy, for sparking that long dormant desire and fanning it into a flame.

  17. It’s nice to read something so encouraging about artists!! As somewhat of an aspiring artist myself it is so easy to get discouraged with the stereotype that I will end up a ‘starving artist’. A career in the arts is an opportunity I could only dream of, however it is way too common to put down those wishing to be in the arts and humanities sector. It gets exhausting. Thank you for the pick me up!

  18. Awesome Jeff. How generous to share the first chapter of your new book with us readers. I can already tell it will be your most important work yet. Looking forward to it! 🙂

  19. Intriguing. I’m hoping to see a few more examples than Michelangelo since I’m not a fan of making a point off of a single data point, but the overall concept sounds right.

  20. TrendMicro Com Support provides remarkable tech support for all brands antivirus, printers and operating system issues. For quick tech support dial +1-844-777-7886

  21. Hi Jeff –

    First, thank you so much for all you do for writers and everyone who is an artist of any kind. I’m a writer with my first novel (clarification: my first novel that got me an agent!) out on sub to editors right now, and I’ve bounced in to your site on and off for years. I just happened to be back on when you announced this book and I ordered it right away. It’s such a joy to me to recognize old scripts, greet them, and turn them into beautiful things that serve instead of hinder you, and I am always so grateful to find anything that not only helps with that, but is also so lovingly crafted. I’m in the process of revamping all my businesses right now, and I expect this book will be a huge help, guide, and inspiration. Thanks.

  22. Thanks a bunch Jeff. I agree with you that I am a real artist when I spend time doing the things that matter most to me. I respect your effort at debunking the Starving Artist myth. It is very commendable.

  23. Great article. Many of the artists I know in real life don’t starve – some of them are loaded! But this comes from hard work. I think it’s important to connect that – you have to be willing to get out there, put yourself out there. Love the history here, thank you!

  24. Hey, Jeff: I just bought your book and I really like it. I have a question. You may answer this latter in your book, I haven’t read it all yet. How do you build a platform with very different audiences? I enjoy writing horror scripts and stories but I also enjoy writing christian style books. How can I build a platform for different audiences without offending them. I know my interest are different but that’s just me. Thanks.

  25. Wow, that really gave another angle to the vision. Thank you for putting your thought and creating a list of Starving Artist vs Thriving artist.

  26. Your spin on the artist’s mentality is refreshing. Being committed to “not starving” also doesn’t mean that we need to sell ourselves and not he true to our art and ourselves. We can thrive while also creating! Such a wonderful concept – and one that will lead to a fulfilled life.

  27. I agree that the “starving artist” saga needs to end. In fact most artists and “artists” (people who think they are and call themselves this because they need something…) are being supported by someone else. My sister is a children’s book illustrator and by all accounts is pretty successful. She does however play “poor me” often and still takes money from my 91 year old mom and asked for her inheritance before my dad had even died. She has never invested nor does she know how to save $$. Choices. Choices.

  28. Well, yeah, it’s true. It applies for other jobs there’ll ever be, too. Once you got the skills, the rest is history!

  29. I love the aspect of doing what you love and doing your best work. Great post on encouraging artists to take what they have and fun with it…improve, collaborate and expand ideas and thoughts.

  30. This is a very wonderful as when you brought up that most parents teachers and others often discourage the creative as best explored in the form of hobby not a career
    thank you

  31. I started to change my mindset since I witnessed your webinar back in July, about the Intentional Blog. That night changed everything. I’m on my path to continually evolve the way I write and put my writing out here on the net. I realize it is not easy, because it takes a lot of work, study and investment, but I know it will really pay off in the end.
    What do I have to lose?
    I’m really excited about what the future holds for me. Thank you for being there.

  32. Thank you for sharing this. I am not an artist but I do have a creative flair that I love to explore. My mind is buzzing with ideas and projects to do but fear cripples me. When I think of an artist, I don’t necessarily fall prey to the myth of a starving artist but I do think of artists as “struggling” not just financially but emotionally with their art. Very good article and well written!

    If you do get a chance, here is a link to my blog. I share random thoughts and try to defy my fear of writing publicly, by writing publicly 😉 Thanks!


  33. Hi Jeff,
    Just finished reading Real Artists Don’t Starve last night. Squeezed it in on my TBR list and worked through it in four days, taking notes.
    You’ve done it again … given us an actionable book, debunking the myth of the starving artist. Hats off to you!
    Throughout the book you gave numerous anecdotes and case studies about artists and creatives through the ages who were living examples of the fact: the artist is worth his/her wages. Michelangelo Buonarroti is the one that stood out for me—being the pioneer of the movement to take an artist serious, who through hard work and continuously reinventing himself over a long life, not only became a master but insisted on respect for artists and paying them accordingly.
    A second highlight was the importance of collaboration with likeminded souls—joining a mastermind or writers’ group, as did C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien with the Inklings.
    Third, the importance of cultivating a patron(s)—individual(s) who can and will enable you to progress on your journey as an artist.
    I have but one critique: the title. Real (Serious) Artists Don’t Starve. There are many “real” artists out there who have (not yet) discovered they can make a full time living off of their craft. Even if they choose not to, doesn’t make them any less competent.
    Again, thank you for a book with its clear challenge to the rest of us: take you body of work as an artist serious, then take the necessary steps to earn the respect the work deserves and go make a living off of it.
    Thank you, Jeff!

    1. Danie, your critique is actually something I was thinking about as I was reading this. My girlfriend is definitely a real artist, but she often buys into the myth of the starving artist. While it doesn’t make her less of an artist, it does make her frustrated and fearful of pursuing her craft. Have you actioned any of Jeff’s steps in your own creative practice? Has it made a difference?

  34. I’m sorry to both you here…not sure where else to ask the question. Yesterday I signed up and then tweeted your requested tweet in order to get the additional 3 bonuses. I haven’t received th download or any of the bonuses. And it won’t let me sign up again, because it says I’m already signed up. Thanks for your good teaching and encouragement!

    1. Hi Gaye, that seems like quite a pain. I’m sorry you’ve had that experience, have tried to email Jeff directly? Sometimes these things end up in our spam inbox… maybe it’s there?

  35. I just saw your blog. You have a Great blog! I’m a college student IT major. I wrote a story sometime ago. It seems interesting. It just has an introduction. What do you think I can do with it to maybe move to the next level?

  36. Great intro, Jeff! I heard you talk about Michelangelo during a few podcast interviews, and I was surprised by his story. I think the myth of the starving artist has killed many artists dreams before they even started, because they felt it was hopeless. Then they wind up settling for average and common, and reach a certain age where their discontent is impossible to ignore. This message is powerful.

  37. Norton, one of the largest security products providers, has made it quite easy to protect your computer system from the malicious online activities, viruses, Trojan horses, scams and other threats. By installing a Norton setup to your device, you can be sure of the privacy of your important files as well as confidential information. Be it a business or consumer, Norton offers a special security software to suit the needs of everyone. You can choose anyone from the following: Mcafee.com/Activate

  38. Wow, great information. I never considered how the myth of Micheal Angelo being a starving artist had such a negative effect on how I viewed artistic endeavors. That viewpoint has worked as a subliminal message throughout my life to not pursue my artistic gifts. Thanks I needed t

  39. Yikes!!! I just read Starving Artist last week and at the time didn’t even consider myself an artist, since I haven’t painted in 20 something years. BUT in the spirit of “practice in public,” I made about 6 paintings, shared them on facebook and my phone has BLOWN UP with requests for commissioned work, and requests to buy what I posted. I am nearly flabbergasted. Nothing in my life (except maybe preaching) has been as easy as painting. I don’t even know what to do with this, except yeah, CHARGE for your work is a no-brainer tip from your book as well. Just these blank canvases are a hundred freaking bucks before adding our creativity to them. Thanks, Jeff. I loved all the historical references in your book too.

    1. Gina, this is absolutely fabulous. I’m amazed that you’ve had such a great response by following the tips int he book. I haven’t read the book yet but I’d love to see your art. Where can I find it?

      1. Hey @amilliondoubts:disqus – thanks for the encouragement! It would feel inappropriate to link to my stuff, but if you follow my personal profile on Facebook, you can see it all on a featured photo album called Gina’s Art. I recommend you read everything Jeff writes. He’s the best.

  40. Great article! As someone that approached my work from a business end and spent a lot of time learning the art, I can relate. I don’t know any natural born artists only people who enjoyed doing something enough that they became masters.

  41. This was a very insightful post. I’m not sure the myth of the Starving Artist is all that big today. It’s just that we are told that creative work doesn’t pay except for a few special souls so we shouldn’t take it to seriously, our real life is our day job.

  42. Nowadays people search for different ways to earn money. One of them can be WRITING! I wouldn’t recommend you this site if it did not help my a lot, and gave me opportunity to set up side income. I guarantee you that you will be able to earn a lot of money if you follow this one simple click and find out what it is about. —->https://tinyurl.com/y8es9yzp

  43. Jeff,

    It’s always good to know that you BECOME whatever it is that you are. I’m a firm believer that you choose to do whatever it is, and your skills follow your choices. If we all chose to be what we were born to be, the shock would be severe.

    I’m still comfortable establishing more and more skills in my chosen area as a writer/artist. Starving? Not so much, but I’ve learned that we have to specialize in something of real value to obtain real value for our efforts, too.

    So much more the fun, I find the goal to be achievement, the benefit to be success and wealth. I’m blessed with all of it. Thank you for sharing this article.

  44. knocked out 700 words since i found your blog need 57300 more to complete but ill get there.I know since I started reading you articles.

  45. Jeff, thank you. I have felt this my whole life and chose the “practical” until a couple months ago. Now I’m on the path to do what my heart says to do and thrive improving my skills. Thank you

  46. Fascinating story about Michelangelo. I wish I’d changed my mind set about starving artists several decades ago. Oh well, Onward and upward

Comments are closed.