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How to keep your artistic spirit going despite being broke.

Updated: May 14, 2020

As artists, we are all passionate about what we love. We work hard at it every single day because the goal is to make it into mainstream and just be a household name. Let’s get real about art and making art and people appreciating art. It takes a lot of work, a lot of failures, and so much resilience. We hear a lot of success stories and we’re motivated. We understand that to get to that point, it takes more than just “getting on the scene”.

I overheard a very disturbing conversation recently about an artist who refuses to work a regular job because he felt he was selling his soul. He apparently felt that he needed the time to work on his craft. But in reality, he bounced from home to home without a penny.  He had no job to pay for studio time, or even to get simple things like a meal but felt like a regular job was somehow beneath him. It really irked my nerves and got me thinking.

How can your mindset limit your success?
Why do we take the starving artist mindset so literal?

There is no doubt that you are talented. The way you spit rhymes and float across the stage. Your poems reach people and they touch souls. Your voice is like a godsend and the images you capture, rare. You make life beautiful, you give ordinary folks symbols to attach to everyday conversation. So, why aren’t you one of the many making the big bucks, gracing numerous platforms? Why aren’t you there yet?

Sometimes your talent is enough to speak for itself so you figure, I don’t have to really engage outside of my art.

No one owes you anything: the power of networking can lead to many fortunate outcomes. Yet, despite the ongoing networking and nothing. You have met many influential people with the means to give you that one big break but they

don’t. You leave disappointed because they know you. They know how talented you are. Why didn’t they use you for their show? Or even put you on to this other person that could get you out there? Sometimes we think that people owe us, even if they don’t. Especially if there was this one or two times that you helped them out. You have to remember that what you have is special and that not everyone is going to think that it’s special for them. It’s not their job to give you that break. No one owes you anything. Some people in positions to help you might want to. Maybe your skill is not exactly what they need for their brand. Maybe you have poor work ethics and after being close to you they realize that this is not what they want for their business. My advice, don’t take what other people do personally. No one owes you anything.

Find a way to survive: artists are the most hardworking people I know. They have something different to offer the world and will always try to get someone to see it. They are always, always working. Not everyone will get a big break so while you’re waiting for the world to wake up and see how talented you are, you have to survive. If you have to get a day job, get a day job. Use your time and money wisely. Putting your art out there means working and making the best impression. You will need money for that. Endorsements and sponsorships usually comes after and it usually pays off. I understand that the day job takes some time always from perfecting your art. However, until your art can pay the rent, take you grocery shopping, or even a little brunch with a prospective investor, you are still not doing all you need to get there. Someone described getting a day job as “selling their soul”. Isn’t it more soul damaging to not be able to do things to enhance your chances or skills because you lack the financial means? How long will you depend on family and friends to foot the bill? Working at a regular job doesn’t make you less of a person. It makes you smart. Be smart about your decisions. You will always have your talent, you will always use it but you have to survive.

Maximize your time: there are 24 hours in a day and you would like to put in about 72 hours of work. It never works out that way. Never. Life happens. More than anything, we procrastinate. I say we because I do it. When you know your potential, putting off becomes the norm. What you can get done in an hour may take someone else a much longer time so you don’t sweat it. Use all the time you have. In between work, on the train, in between TV shows, or making dinner. Whatever bit of time you have, just use it. When things are coming together you will see that the little pockets of time were to your benefit. Ideas are always flowing, so carry a notebook with you. Get a planner and use every single page. I never stick to my to-do lists but they are there. They are constant reminders and I often feel terrible about slacking off so I get working. Time is precious. All of it. Find time to work, find time for pleasure and find time to sleep.

Believe in your magic: The longer things take to manifest the harder it gets. The harder it gets, the chance of giving up increases. You are more likely to think that what you’re doing is worth nothing and will never make a difference. That, my friend is not the mindset you want to adopt when your magical moments are lurking. Positive thinking is a daily practice. All day, every day is a an opportunity to take your talent to the next level. You want to build a reservoir of material that you can draw from. It is important for your to believe that what you’re doing monumental. Believe in your work. Do all you can to give people pieces of your talent so they can grow to appreciate your gift. Nothing is going to happen in an instant so, the little down moments are just as important as the high times.

The world is constantly changing and art gives life to the human experience. The most important thing is to believe in what you have. Some of us make it big and some of us don’t but while you wait for that big, big, break, survive. We all weren’t cut out for the 9-5 but the 9-5 has advantages. Find something you still love, as an artist you are a multifaceted, specimen with many hidden skills transferable to some mundane and repetitive jobs. It might be something you love and therefore, not so mundane. This job could be your motivation to create more magic, something like a little gem.  

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