We’ve all heard the idea of the starving artist who suffers for his art. Some of us might even be planning to take that route or already in that situation, thinking there is no other way. But contrary to popular belief, being a starving artist is not the only option. In fact, it’s an unnecessary option even.
One question I’m asked a lot by artist friends and acquaintances is this: “how can I turn my passion into a profession?” This concern comes out because artists love what they do and want to be allowed more time to do what they’re good at. But behind that lies this universal truth: in order to spend time on your art, you need to pay the bills.
Money isn’t everything, that’s true, but it is something. A lot of artists today are stuck with the money question because they can’t see the bigger picture. How can I pursue my art and still make a living? Here are five practical ways to pursue your passion for your craft without missing a meal again.
Money isn’t everything, that’s true, but it is something.
1. Get a day job.
A few years ago I got involved in the local indie music scene. One thing you would notice about musicians in Iloilo is that no one relies on his music to pay the bills. We were a group of doctors, engineers, freelancers, business owners, sales reps who would work for money in the day and play music at night.
Maybe your craft can’t put money on the table, but that’s fine. You can spend eight to nine hours a day, five days a week earning your keep and still have plenty of time left to pursue your craft afterwards.
2. Provide value
What makes art is the beauty and enjoyment it provides to others. In other words, art is valuable to others. If your art isn’t at a point where it’s providing value to others yet then continue to grow it some more. Let it come to a point that your craft-making, photography, designs, music or poetry will create enough value to others to make them willing to pay for it.
If you want to learn more about understanding value to help you purse your art, I wrote a free ebook about pursuing your passion that you can download here.
3. Let your art evolve
Times change. Consequently, your craft needs to change as well. Sometimes the challenge with artists is not whether their art is beautiful. Rather the issue is whether it’s relevant or not.
Visual art can become graphic design, architecture or graphic design. Culinary art can turn you into a chef. Music can be provided to companies in the form of marketing jingles. The goal is to evolve your art and package it as something that people want.
4. Grow your network
I can’t say enough how important people skills are to any profession. Many artists are great artists, but terrible human beings. They don’t connect and network with others who can become clients, partners or distributors. You’re good at your art- that’s great! But you also need to grow in the art of connecting and networking with others. If you’re an artist, you need to be your own number one salesman and fan, which leads me to point number five.
5. Do it for the money
Chances are people around you know that value of your craft, but do you? I’ve spoken to many artists who’ve put money on a pedestal. We’re too embarrassed to give digits when people ask “how much?” Don’t be ashamed of your need for money. You need to eat. Your family needs a roof over their head. It’s going to take money to do that. You need the money and that’s not a crime, especially when people know your art is worth it.