Ep 59 Starving Artist (FINAL VIDEO)
[00:00:00] Marijanel: Why do artists have the stigma of being broke? Have you heard the term starving artist? Is it money, or is it mindset?
[00:00:12] Charla: I think most people are going to answer. If you, if you're honest and you answer off the top of your head, you're gonna say, money. It's money.
[00:00:18] Marijanel: Money's a big problem.
[00:00:19] Charla: I'm not making money.
[00:00:21] Marijanel: Big problem. When you're starting out, especially when you're starting out as a professional, full-time artist, it can be a big obstacle to going pro, to getting established is money. It's one of the big things artists will say that holds them back.
[00:00:36] Charla: Yeah. But you know, really, when it comes down to it, what can you do in the world that money doesn't hold you back from? Anything entrepreneurial that you get your start in money is going to be a major issue in the beginning. And I think artists are entrepreneurial. Artists have to be business minded, which I think, um, probably traditionally artists don't really like the idea of having to, to be in business. They don't wanna be in business. Um, but anyone who has to be in business and be entrepreneurial, is going to be, if money is something that will stop them, they're gonna stop. Because money doesn't come quickly when you start bus, uh, a business.
But when it comes to any type of, of, um, study or any type of career, money is going to be an issue in the beginning. You have to find money to go to school, and you are going get started at the bottom of your profession no matter who you. So money's always gonna be an issue.
[00:01:34] Marijanel: So why is it just labeled and tagged to artists that we have the stigma of being broke?
[00:01:40] Charla: Well, um, I think. I think that it's something that we've been taught. I think we, I think, I think artists have it double rough. Society doesn't believe in ourselves, and we don't believe in ourselves. We we're taught by our teachers, like our art professors. I have a, BFA so I've, I've done a Bachelor of fine arts.
I've gone through that whole system and art prof, my art professors did not believe that artists could make money. They, they, they taught us that.
[00:02:13] Marijanel: So what's the point? What's the point? They're teaching these artists to become artists for fun. You're getting an art degree for fun. Or what do they think you're, that they're gonna, you're gonna do with your degree?
[00:02:22] Charla: I never figured that out. Like, I'm sure there's other people with BFAs that would answer me in a, in a different way. I mean, they're teaching you, I think, really what, what A B F A does, its attempting to do, is to teach you how to find your voice as an artist. I found that art school really pushed you to do weird things to that.
I mean, there's a lot of. Negative aspects of that which I talk about, I think too much, and I think a lot of people talk about too much, but I think if you can look at it with a more positive spin, they're trying to teach you to find your voice as an artist, so not necessarily teaching you skills, or teaching you how to apply anything that you're learning in the real world, , but they're, they're, they're trying to get you to explore and try new things and learn new things.
You aren't taught how to actually make money when you leave with your degree.
[00:03:23] Marijanel: So when it comes down to it, you've done a BFA, you get outta school, and you're still labeled. Even though you've got a degree, you, you've, you're still labeled. You come out with the stigma of being broke or starving artist.
[00:03:34] Charla: Well, yeah. You've been taught now for like four or five years by people in the industry that you're going to starve. Our, our teachers actually did that. I had a class where we did studio tours of artists around the city. And what I remember is people asking the question like how, 'cuz these people would be renting studios and they're like, how do you get these studio space?
How do you afford the studio spaces? And there's never an answer. They're like, well hopefully you'll make enough money or maybe get a day job to pay for it. Struggle your whole life. Like I re, I can see the moment where this is what the professor was saying to us. He wasn't even giving us, giving us the real life story of these artists and how they afford to pay their rent for their studios. And it just felt so hopeless. So you're taught this for four years, and then you get out into the real world and you're embarrassed to some degree to tell people that you're a, an artist or a practicing artist because they, society, they look at you as unimportant. So they're like, what do you do for society?
Like, what do you do? How do you make money? How do you pay your bills? Maybe you're like, I, I even know people who have said things like, oh, do you live off of grants? Like you live off of government grants. And so there's these not, and not that that's a bad thing because sometimes there's important art that needs to get made, and the government does provide an avenue for that art to get made.
And there's a lot of beautiful public art in our country and in the world that's done that way. So it's not even a bad thing. But that's, that's what we have. We have the belief system. We've been taught sometimes by our own parents and our own family members that art is unimportant, that you're never gonna make a living out of it.
Our teachers teach us that Society tells us that when we're done university. So now, All of this stuff is in our mind, and we have the mindset that artists are not important, that artists have to starve. And that if you're going to practice these things that are so near and dear to your heart and to your whole being, you're gonna have to do it on the side, or you're gonna have to do it in a shed, you know, like a shack.
[00:05:38] Marijanel: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know what you're saying. It really comes down to us not believing in ourselves and being taught not to believe in ourselves. And then.
[00:05:46] Charla: It's a mindset.
[00:05:48] Marijanel: We explore. Yeah. When we explore the idea that it's mindset, does that mean that it's really our choice? Like, do we have the choice to change our mindset and change how we perceive.
[00:06:00] Charla: Yeah. Well I believe when you wake up to that truth, you start to realize that you actually have the choice. It's like being given the red or blue pill so you can go back to sleep and live in your, uh, little world where everybody tells you, you are not important. Your work's not important. Or you can take the pill that wakes you up, and you can recognize that you actually hold the power to change your starving artist mindset. That it's really just something that was put on you. And I don't even know who put whose idea it was, it's just something that's evolved over time. My belief is that. Art is important and it's powerful and it can do so much good in the world.
And there's a lot of voices out there in the world that don't want to do good, that want to do bad, that wanna want, want to work in the way of evil, and they want us to believe it's not important. Simply because it is the most important ve, it is one of the most important or powerful vehicles in the world to spread messages and belief systems.
And this is where I've used the analogy a million times, that movies are a very powerful way to put an idea out into society. And it's known fact that the powers that be use movies to put messages out into society. Movies are art. But if we don't believe that that's a powerful platform for a message, then we're not gonna use it for that.
So, the powers that be, and it sound very conspiracy at the moment, but the powers that be want want to have that control. They don't want that type of control to be in the hands of, of all artists. And so also because in order to believe that, you have to believe that there's gonna be people that are gonna be using art for things that you might not agree with.
So I have one opinion. The person next to me has a complete and utter opposite opinion. Their art will hold the message they want. My heart will hold the message I want. I have to be willing to live side by side with that person. I, I can't bring them down or destroy the work they're doing. In order to believe that my work is powerful, I have to recognize that so is everybody else's work.
And we get to go out there and put it into the world. I think oftentimes we just, we just dumb down these voices or we quiet these voices because we're afraid of them. I'm getting, I'm getting up on soapbox right now.
[00:08:34] Marijanel: Yeah. So coming back though to this poverty spirit that artists seem to like live under, how do we even identify that in ourselves in order to change the mentality? So if we have the power to change the mentality, to take the other pills, so to speak, uh, how do we identify it and.
[00:08:52] Charla: Well, I think there's like some really like practical everyday things that you can look at yourself and say, do I do that? Do I think that way? It's a, this is, this is how you take the pill , like how you make your decision and see which way if, if you're a sleeper awake to this starving artist. Mindset that you don't actually have to conform to if you don't want to. So like, one of the things is do you shop at discount dollar stores for your supplies?
Um, now I don't, I don't mean, um, ever. I have picked up supplies at a dollar store before, but is that the only place you shop for your supplies and like when you go to a craft store, you feel like it's a luxury purchase? It's like this, this luxury treat. But an art supply store is like a once in a lifetime opportunity for you.
Is that how you view your art supplies? Because if you do, that's poverty spirit, that's that's starving artist mindset. As an artist, you need to respect your work. And Dollar Store has its place in society, but it's not.
[00:09:57] Marijanel: Yeah. Love me. A good Dollar store fix once in a while. .
[00:10:01] Charla: Yeah. I mean, I, I like the Dollar Store once in a while, but going to an art supply store should not feel like a once in a lifetime. Like you've been given the opportunity to meet the Queen. Going to the art supply store should be normal to you. This should, you should value your work and yourself enough that you can go to an art supply store and get and use those materials. Not just put them on a shelf like grandma used to do with her specialty vases, you know, and never use them.
Actually use them and make quality work with those art supplies. I think that's, it's a funny, it's a fun one to talk about, but yeah. Like look at yourself seriously.
[00:10:40] Marijanel: Yeah, for sure. I, I remember a quote from The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. I might not quote it perfectly, but she has an entire. Uh, chapter in that book dedicated to money and how artists view and operate.
[00:10:55] Charla: That's a great one, yeah.
[00:10:56] Marijanel: With money. And she said something along the lines of, well, she was, she was really encouraging artists to rely and trust on God for provision and understand the, the source of, of all that we are, all of our talent, all of our resources on earth they come from somewhere and that we can trust.
And one of her quotes was something along the lines of, um, if you think of how big God is, I don't think it's God that's the cheaps skate. It's you.
[00:11:27] Charla: Yeah. Yeah. I love it.
[00:11:29] Marijanel: You're the cheapskate. And I thought about that. I've read that, and I thought about that for days and I'm like, yeah. I think if anybody's a cheapskate around here, it's me,
Um, and you know, I had, I also think that there's wisdom that we need to handle our finances as we're growing.
[00:11:45] Charla: Yes. For sure.
[00:11:46] Marijanel: In our business and in our arts. Like there's a lot of times I'll deliberate between a purchase and I'll think, I'm not talking about general supplies. I'm talking about those, those purchases that push you forward. That might be a bigger investment.
Um, and I've deliberated, you know, is it time to upgrade my iPad? You know, to have a, a bigger, better, newer. Is that wise? And I'll, I'll go back and forth about this and have to make those financial decisions. But, and, and they. , like border on, just like learning how to use wisdom in our finances.
But at the same time there's some decisions we have to make in order to grow. Like we have to make, take that risk. And I remember being faced with that, with just taking on the expense of having studio space. You know, you go back and forth, back and forth, will I grow as an artist, have the expense of a space, or will it just be another liability?
And we have to not only work in wisdom, but then fight off that starving artist, artist don't prosper mentality. And so there's this delicate balance of just like, it's great to be able to talk about it with other artists.
[00:13:00] Charla: Yeah.
[00:13:00] Marijanel: And it's also great when you have your, your team and your tribe of people around you. Like what we experienced in the Bold School community. And um, just having other artists support you 'cuz you can say, Hey, how did you know it was time to make that big upgrade? Or how did you know it was time to take on a studio expense?
[00:13:17] Charla: Yeah.
[00:13:17] Marijanel: And other people can share their stories, like, you have shared with me countless stories of your growth and how you knew, or you sense, your intuition will tell you, okay, it's time to make this change. It's time to upgrade.
And um, I'm even thinking I need to upgrade my podcasting mic this year. You know, but some, you have to grow, um, and make these like money decisions in order to prosper and it's hard.
[00:13:46] Charla: Yeah. Yeah. I think I've told the story before with my dad as a fisherman, how he always used to say, you have to know it's under your feet. Because if you am being a fisherman on a boat, he's walking literally on the boat. And if that boat is rickety and old and he needs to go 200 miles offshore, which is the way he, uh, the way his fisherman industry grew. Um, he needed to know what was under his feet because that was his li that was what would keep him alive and keep his crew alive.
And it was what going to bring the fish in because if he's doing, he's risking his life and his crew's life, then they need to bring in the fish. You know, they'd bring in the, the crab or whatever it was they were out there to get. And he said, if he, by knowing what was under his feet, he knew what he was going to be capable of doing.
And sometimes that meant buying really expensive gear. And for him on a, a large boat, 200 miles offshore, sometimes it was like a $30,000, uh, piece of gear that he'd have to buy. And he said I had to do it, otherwise I wouldn't be able to get the fish when I was out there. So he had to know what was under his feet.
And it doesn't mean to go and buy really expensive things, but just recognize what, what you have under your feet is as far as you're gonna be able to go. If he was in a little rowboat, he would've never been able to catch crab 200 miles offshore.
So if you're going to go and buy dollar store paints, they're most likely gonna degrade. They're gonna be transparent. You're not gonna be able to do the same things as you can do with with art supply store artist quality paints, and that's fine. But you need to know what you're working with and how far you can go with it. And so, so buying that kind of stuff is only going to take you so far.
And you can only charge so much money for Dollar Store art, not, you're not really gonna be showing that as an original art in a gallery anytime soon. So, you need to know where you're headed and make really wise choices for each step along the way.
[00:15:48] Marijanel: Yeah, and just as a quick reminder, we have another show about monetizing your art, which gives lots of ideas and avenues to monetize your art, which really just supports the shift in mindset, because sometimes in order to shift from that mindset of, oh, artists are starving, poor us, you know, I've got this artist's heart, but it means I'm always gonna have to be broke, cuz that's what society tells me.
Um, we have to change the mindset, and in order to do that, open our minds to the many avenues that we could monetize our, our art. You are not stuck with one particular avenue. So hop over, uh, at the end of this show, find our next podcast that has the, the monetization topic and you'll, it'll just enlighten you to all kinds of options.
Yeah, definitely. It's a good one.
[00:16:39] Charla: So I think another mindset is that you give your stuff away all the time. Like I find a lot of people that, um, are making art that don't really see value in the art, but they wanna pretend they do, are just like making art. And instead of and it's, it's fine if you're not pursuing your work, if you're doing it as a hobby.
Like I give, I, I do like felting ornaments and I give them to everybody at Christmas time, and I've done that a few years in a row now, and Marijanel has some.
[00:17:07] Marijanel: I've been a recipient and I love it.
[00:17:08] Charla: No, that's, it's a little different when it's a hobby.
[00:17:11] Marijanel: Yeah.
[00:17:11] Charla: But if you are really wanting to do more with your work, , then you have to stop giving it away to everybody who walks in your studio because there's a point where when you give away something for free or for really cheap, people really don't see value in it.
It's like, oh, why is that $5? Or why are you just trying to give all these things away every time I walk in the door? They must not hold value to you 'cuz you don't want them, you're not charging a decent price for them. And in business like, In some type types of business, in some types of product sales, if you sell something too cheap, you'll actually fail.
You actually need to, I even heard an artist who said one year he went, he would go to a fair every year, and one year he just wasn't selling. So, the following year he doubled his prices on everything, and he sold out of everything. And he said, I think they actually saw more value in my work because I had it to be more expensive.
Now don't just up your, your work. He was like a a, he was in the industry for a long time and, and he was established artist. Um, you can't just go and charge high prices if it's your first year, and you're using dollar store supplies. Don't be doing that, but it's just an example. But don't give your work away and create no value in your work in other people's eyes. And you have to look at it that if you have a nine to five job, no matter what that job is, it can be looked at as the, the lowest job that you could possibly hold in your city or in your society. You still expect to get paid for that job. You're not gonna go to that job and work for free.
Nobody would. You, it just, you might as well just stay home and do what you want. And that's, that's how we have to look at our art. Like we deserve to be paid for it. And you, you, in order to do that, we have to stop just giving it away and devaluing our, yeah, our work.
[00:18:59] Marijanel: Okay. So I've thought of a really random question wasn't planned, but if you could go back to that class in university where, you know, you were giving the studio tours, what would you say to the artists that are there, how, how would you prepare them for the real world?
[00:19:13] Charla: If they came to my studio?
[00:19:15] Marijanel: If you were the prof that, gave the tour, and you were preparing them to like enter the world as an artist, what would you say to them?
[00:19:25] Charla: Well, I think, um, I would start kind of outlining the steps to getting to a place where you could rent a studio. And if I look at my own life now, so it's easy to, to talk about my own story, but you know, and, and people that I know, you start making your art in the kitchen.
You start taking it, uh, serious, and you start, um, holding it as valuable and then presenting it as valuable. You find your place to sell it. Where, and, and the monetizing your art podcast could talk about all of those places. But you, you find your, your place where you could sell it. So for me, one of the first places I started selling was a local art fair where I sold.
Big, like I, I had big sales and it was exciting. I actually started selling online before I started selling in person because of, um, the following that I had accrued through my photography, um, career. And when I first started painting as a career, a lot of the people that followed me and know, knew me, and trusted me started buying online.
So that was interesting. I don't think that's what everybody experiences, but I had that unique experience. And then I did local art fairs where I had a lot of success, as well. And then once I started having success, I started upgrading my equipment. And then when we, um, so I updated, upgraded my equipment. I also made sure I had a space in our house to paint.
I just made sure I had a space in in our house. And my story goes is a little bit different than yours. I haven't moved outside of my house and rented a studio. That's a huge step. I've thought about it a few times. But when we built our house a few years ago, we decided. to take the extra square footage and build a studio on, which is a big commitment because it's made our house a lot bigger than it would've been.
So it added on our square footage, which adds on the price. Feels a bit easier because it's built into the mortgage, you know? But it is still a big step, and we took that step before I was seeing the success that I'm seeing now. I didn't have a print business then. I hadn't started Bold School. I had, I was teaching workshops on the weekends.
You know, things were starting to grow. They hadn't really grown, but this studio opened up a way that I could start teaching online, which changed my, the whole, uh, direction of my career really. So, you just, and this is what I would tell them. And I would ask, so my students in a class, at a university, especially for doing tours of local studios, I would ask every single artist that we visited, how did you get to a point where you could afford this studio?
'Cuz they're there. They're in a studio, and they're working. So, there has these stories then would all be relevant to people in different ways, and would inspire you in your journey and your path in a different way. So, I think it's really important as artists.
[00:22:29] Marijanel: Yeah.
[00:22:29] Charla: 'Cause we are so unique and our paths and our work is unique to each, each of you individually. It's really, really important to look at the community and see the stories of lots of different. And, and talk to them and ask them questions. How are you doing it? And each person will have a little bit of a different story and that might help you with a key to your journey and how you might be able to do it.
[00:22:55] Marijanel: And one thought that's come to me is that if there's those that are listening that. are successful and you've just been listening along, but all the way through your thinking, well, I don't really have that problem. I'm successful. I'm making money. My art has, you know, done, it's thrived. Then I would encourage you to share your journey with artists that are up and coming, the ones who need to change that mindset from, you know, starving artists to an artist with possibility and and potential and like an open horizon. And then if you could be.
[00:23:30] Charla: We need so much more of that.
[00:23:31] Marijanel: Yeah. We need mentors and people to, who've tasted and experienced success who don't live under that stigma. To bring the next generation of artists. Into a whole new mindset, so if that's you, I encourage you to just take someone under your wing, let them know the steps you've taken, and, um, encourage them to take steps to change their mindset, as well.
[00:23:55] Charla: Yeah, for sure. Even reach out to us and you, we'd interview you on the podcast. We would just get the story out here.
[00:24:01] Marijanel: Absolutely. And, um, So I also wanna just open up our, you know, Bold School community is a great place to connect with other artists to hear the stories of how they're doing it. Make sure that you're on our newsletter list that you can find on Bold School. You can sign up for the newsletter list on boldschool.com.
And, um, and so, yeah, we just want to, to make sure that, you know, there's an open, open arms and open door there into our community. And of course, the other bonus is that we've got amazing painting classes on the inside of Bold School. So, um, so definitely check out what we have going on. Make sure to hit subscribe and follow us here on The Bold School youTube. Thanks for joining us today on The Bold Artist Podcast. Until next time, keep creating.