Why the Starving Artist-Myth is Still Alive and Kicking

Yesterday I participated in a Google Hangout, followed by a live Facebook Q&A.

A lot of fun, and some very smart insights were shared, both by the hosts and the guests.

There was one thing though that came up a few times, and it kind of pained me.

It was the notion that creation – in the context of the event it was content creation – should happen for its own sake.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not something that I disagree with – I may be in business, but I do realise that when it comes to art, it’s things like authenticity, originality and inspiration that make something truly remarkable.

Also, it’s not just about money, it shouldn’t be.

If you’ve ever sent me an email with a question, you know that first-hand.

Besides if we would all write and paint and sculpt and compose our songs just to please the audience, then everything produced would be the equivalent of the bland and overproduced gunk we hear on the radio.

So yeah, of course creating art should happen for its own sake.

But at the same time it’s treacherous territory, because before you know it, you’re making art and not giving any thought at all to how you’re actually going to get your work in front of people.

Or indeed get any of it sold.

And here’s the thing: the more ‘you’ the things you make, the more original, the smaller your audience is likely to be.

And that means you’ll have to work harder to find those people.

Which is another way of saying: art is business, whether you like it or not.

If you don’t sell it, and make the effort to sell it, how are you going to live?

Who pays for your paint and brushes?

Of course you may disagree, and I respect that.

But people who don’t see it that way are very unlikely to sell any of their work.

Which is a pity, because you want people to see your work, and buy from you.

Don’t you? Of course you do.

See, it’s not about the money, that’s the thing that people most often get wrong when they’re reticent to promote their work.

As if there’s shame in getting paid for your work, as if that would devalue the piece you create.

Or, as Hugh MacLeod said it so eloquently in one of his cartoons:

Gallery visitor: “And do you sell your paintings?”

Artist: “No. My paintings aren’t ‘products’, you bourgeoisie bastard”.


I mean, look at Jim Henson.

I’d say his work was art through and through.

And yet, he was able to make a fine living with it.

Which, incidentally, enabled him to get his art seen by more and more people.

And thus, Count Count taught tons of kids, for decades, how to count, and still does.

So why would be money be bad for art?

Why would you be against – ethically – promoting your work?

Makes no sense at all to me.

Art changes people, it enriches lives, it opens the mind, it changes the world.

I say, get used to selling. You’ll do everybody a favour.

It’s service rendered when you get out there and get your marketing on.

And once you learn how, it can actually be a lot of fun.

So if you want to learn how to do that, and indeed became the type of artist who is also an entrepreneur and makes a living off his art, sign up for LEAP.

Gets you real smart, real fast.

The February issue deals with one of the hairiest topics of all: how to develop the confidence to put yourself out there, and get people buying from you.

Go here next –> http://martinstellar.com/leap-to-more-sales/



I help nice people sell more

Sign up for daily ethical selling emails and get a bonus of my free e-book, 10 Rules for Ethical Selling.

Get the FREE eBook...
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy


Martin helped our co-working space get to full occupancy and $25.000 monthly revenue in less than a year.

~ Antonio Herrezuelo,
Avenida Capital

Looking to increase your sales as well as your impact?

Then maybe we should talk

get the book

…and sell the way nice people do

Get the FREE eBook...
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

get the book

and discover how to sell the way nice people do

You’ll also receive a short daily email on ethical selling and business growth.

Get the FREE eBook...
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy