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Buying Out of the “Starving Artist” Mindset

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Ferrara Buskers Festival

Over the weekend, I stopped in a local gallery and was talking with some of the artists. Several were quite successful and one described herself as struggling. Then she said with a laugh, no she was really the typical “starving artist.” What ensued was a rather lively discussion about our value, what we believe we are capable of, what words to do us, and the notion that we do not have to buy into that “starving” mentality.


The starving artist mentality is totally in your head. I am sure you see successful artists all around you. What is it that they have that you do not? I am sure your work is just as good, and I am sure you work just as hard. The problem is that on some level you buy into that romantic, bohemian notion that artists should be starving. Words are powerful in both a negative and positive way. This mindset does not serve you and it does not serve anyone else. No one ever said that you don’t deserve to earn a decent income doing what you love.


So how do you leave the “starving artist” limiting belief behind? Here are some tips:


  • Realize that being poor, or “starving,” doesn’t mean your art is better or worse. It is the same art. I might even say that if you cannot take care of yourself, your art is not as good as it could be. You have distractions keeping that belief and “starving artist” lifestyle alive.


  • Try to figure out why you really have those beliefs. Journal your thoughts about money and people, even artists, who have money. If they are negative, ask yourself, “Is this really true?”


  • Give yourself permission to make money. Watch for ways that you sabotage your worth.


  • Start today to approach your art as a business. Yes, you are the CEO of a business, your art business. Start to make your decisions from that place. Learn about your ideal client and where he hangs out. Learn about marketing, online and off. When you are 100% responsible for what is in your life, including your business, you can make changes. Have you heard about the Law of Attraction? It says you bring about what you think about. Bring about a successful art business.


  • Find people who support your vision and do not let you fall into that “starving artist” place.


  • Continue to work to build your confidence in your money mindset, just as you build your confidence in your art. It will happen and you will kick that “starving artist” to the curb.


If you have dealt with your mindset about being an artist, please share your struggles and successes with us below. I would love to hear from you and what your techniques are. You are also welcome to share your thoughts on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.


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Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at


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What’s Your Value?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Value - Business SignThis past Friday I gave the keynote at the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference. I had a great time connecting — and reconnecting — with so many talented artists. My talk was titled “Starving Artist No More: 7 Steps to a Profitable Creative Arts Career.”As the title suggests, I spent a lot of time talking about your mindset. One of my slides included a favorite quote from Mika Brezinski on knowing your value, which I will share below. From my experience working with creative entrepreneurs, I often find they struggle with determining a value for their work and then charging for it. Here are some tips for dealing with worth.

  1. Know exactly what you are charging. Many creative arts entrepreneurs often are challenged by what to charge for their services. Many tend to undercharge because they don’t know what to charge. They look at what others are charging and figure it must be right. Ever wonder how that person came up with her price? She probably did what you did: looked around at what others were charging and figured it was right. Take the time to go back and determine how long it takes you to accomplish your work. Consider what your expenses are – overhead, taxes, materials, etc. Then determine what you need to make on an hourly basis to meet your expenses and make a profit.
  2. Build confidence in your work and value. In Knowing Your Value Mika Brzezinski said, “Knowing your value means owning your successes. Owning your success means acknowledging your achievements. By acknowledging achievements you build confidence.” One way to do this is to have what I call a Weekly Success and Strategy Session. This is where you set aside time to review your accomplishments for the week and celebrate them. Then strategize for the week to come. Seeing what you accomplish does build your confidence. With increased confidence you will be better able to see your value and express it.
  3. Be visible and promote yourself. Once you see your accomplishments, don’t be shy about sharing them with everyone you know – and even those you don’t. Women, in particular, are not bold about this. Remember, if you don’t toot your own horn, who will? If you need ideas on promoting yourself, listen to our the call in the ICAP Library with Tara Reed on “How to be a Pres-Friendly Agent.”
  4. Look for a mentor. It can be useful to have someone else help you objectively look at what you have to offer and your value. It’s easy to stay in our own shell and others often see things we don’t.
  5. Step out in faith. Once you know and believe your value, don’t second-guess yourself. Own your value and move forward. There’s an African proverb – When you pray, move Your feet – that says it all.

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