The "Struggling Artist" Concept Is What Keeps Artists Struggling
Trying to find artistic prosperity within a system that caters to 9-5’s can be stressful bruh.
No one aspires to be a struggling artist. Correction: No one aspires to struggle for real. The term “struggling artist” has become trendy and is often glorified. This cool picture that has been painted of the “struggling artist” lifestyle is all smoke and mirror. In fact, there’s nothing cool about it, especially if you are a creative person in America. Its constant worry of when you will get the inspiration for your next project, or receive that next deposit into your bank account. Because for some reason, people tend to go out of their way to not pay artists. As if being an artist automatically disqualifies you from making money.
Yes, artists need money. Yes, artists want money.
You have two types of artists: The ones who create art leisurely, therefore they fully embrace this “I don’t do art for money” mentality. Then you have the artists who have decided to make art their whole life. They eat, sleep, and breathe their very own manifestations. Do they do it only for money? Of course not! But money is definitely a key component in being able to continue to do whatever it is they love full time, while still being able to live day-to-day. It’s very easy to not care about making a profit from your work when you have a backup plan, or when you have consistent income coming in from other sources. However, when you depend on your art for your very survival within society, money plays a completely different role. Then there's the mental tug-a-war that invades your space almost daily. The constant doubting of yourself and your work. Even if you know you are dope at whatever it is you do, that little voice of “am I good enough?” still manages to find its way to your subconscious.
The life of an artist is seen as this worry-free, every day is dandelions and sunshine kind of thing, when it’s really more like an ongoing thunderstorm with an occasional rainbow. For true artists, the occasional rainbow makes it all worth it, so we continue because we love it. Choosing an artistic career is pretty much choosing to be insane every day of your life, or perhaps we are the sane ones?
The life of an artist can be the hardest thing to explain to anyone who has never decided to take a leap of faith on a dream that no one else can really see but them. They simply won’t get it. It’s the sort of thing you have to experience to truly understand.
Supporting an artist is another thing that is often misunderstood. Yes, we appreciate the likes, link retweets, and the random words of encouragement and motivation but nothing says support like actual investments. Saying you support something and actually supporting it, are two different things. It’s like your boss coming into the office every day and telling you, “great job, keep up the good work” and never paying you. Here you are going into work every day, doing your very best and leaving with nothing but solid words of encouragement. How long would you stay at that job? Not to say words of encouragement are pointless because they are most definitely necessary, but unfortunately, you can’t pay your bills with that just yet.
Because we are artists, we are supposed to be broke and happy? Nah.
Art will only stay alive if it’s appreciated. Artists will always choose art but it’s pretty hard to continue to produce art for public consumption, while feeling financially stagnant in life and in your career. Struggle should not be synonymous with artistic careers. No, we do not enjoy struggling to make ends meet. No, we do not think we are above being paid for our work. No, we are not okay with doing free work. Yes, we do take what we do pretty seriously. When Badu said, "I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit", she said a mouth full. Yes, we would love if we didn’t need money to survive but unfortunately we do. We all do. Artists are not immune to capitalism. To the artists out there, you have the right to just say no to the struggle. Let's let the "struggling artist" concept die once and for all.
Support the art and invest in the artist.