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Last week I read a collection of 12 Artist’s Myths by Aletta de Wal over at Artist Career Training. It’s an engaging selection of the most common misconceptions about the business of being an artist.

Aletta finishes each entry with the real job necessity associated with each myth in order to succeed with your art business. Decisive, revealing and no sugar-coat in sight, these posts are an eye opener for anyone flitting around in the dream of an art career. She’s even launching a book on the subject.

And yet… I kept thinking What next?
What now?
What happens After the Myth?

So I wrote 12 posts about the nuts and bolts of what’s next and some reACTion Lab steps to take so you that you don’t fall into the lamentable category of mythical“Starving Artist”. (barf)
Cornucopia ©2012 Lezley Davidson, watercolour, 6 x 6

Artist Myth #1: You Must Starve to Be an Artist

There is a romantic notion perpetuated by operas like “La Boheme” that artists must be poor. People who believe that the “true” artist is a “starving” artist think that this lifestyle keeps them “in touch” with creativity.

When I was at OCAD, I was sitting out on a bench in Grange Park, drawing during my lunch. An elementary teacher assembled nearby with his 6th grade class, apparently on some sort of a field trip.

Ass Clown SpeaksCyril Cavalié / Foter

Standing on a bench, this shaper of young minds proceeded to spout the most stereotypical garbage about being an artist. Poor, starving, creatively engaged but barely alive (while they eat cat food in their hovel and fight off scurvy and rickets), I listened to this dick bag go on about OCAD and the AGO as if he had a clue about the modern life of a practicing artist.

This mythology of the tortured painter, starving and sipping absinthe in a garret, producing genius masterpieces is crap. It’s crap based on crap and is in direct conflict with the vast and varied choice, opportunities and avenues open for the visually creative.

Not Just Painters & Sculptors

OCAD is the Ontario College of Art & Design. Right behind the ass clown oration of ignorance was a plethora of artist choice:

  • Illustration >> editorial, commercial, advertising
  • Environmental Design
  • Industrial Design (everything that’s gone to manufacturing has been designed by an industrial designer)
  • Graphic Design >> packaging, web, print
  • Animation >> character design, game design, storyboarding
  • Web design >> website, apps – everything digital still needs to be pretty
  • MAAD (Material Art & Design) >> fabrics, fibres, metal, patterning, wallpapers…

Construction Mat - Target

My Construction Play Mat design sold at Target, Walmart & Home Depot in the US and Canada.

For a few years I illustrated children’s play mats that were sold in major retailers and I had to learn how to work a half drop repeat into the illustration.  
 Real world MAAD skills.
The starving artist/fine artist mythos is largely held by amateurs, hobbyists, dreamers and the ignorant. If you want to make a living in a creative field (and you totally can), you need to start practicing seeing the possibilities and opportunities for art, everyday.
The reACTion Lab:

  • List 5 art opportunities in your neighbourhood – they don’t have to be in your field. Think about what needed to use artists and designers to be made… consider those things that could use an artist or designer to make them less hideous!
  • list 5 opportunities in your neighbourhood that would be perfect for your particular artistic skills
  • list 3 ways you could step closer to making those opportunities happen.


Click here for Artist Myth #2 >>


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