Starving Artist Syndrome Effects and How to Stop Cycle of Poverty in an Artist's Life
“A starving artist, that’s what I am!”, a declaration I jokingly throw around friends and family during awkward moments of success updates, unaware that the act was part of a syndrome trapping me in a cycle of poverty. I was young and idealistic wanting to prove that one need not “prostitute” one's talent by going commercial. I wanted to keep true to the so called starving artist image.
What is a starving artist anyway? Wikipedia has a definition that goes well with what I was trying to achieve in my young life – “an artist who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. They typically live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes toward art projects.” In my case, I was sacrificing material well-being by doing plays with a cause, usually those that spoke of the ills of the government during the martial law era in the Philippines. I was using the power of theater arts to inform, educate and entice people into fighting against abuses on human rights.
Caught in the Starving Artist Syndrome
Along the way however, I realized that it was no longer practical for me to rely on “dole outs” from my mother and siblings to cover the cost of my passion. Thus, began my journey into trying out regular paying jobs --- a radio newscaster for over 2 years and being a drama club moderator for my alma mater at around the same course of time. Still, I found myself financially struggling. I could not, for the life of me, find the income stability I needed. It was then I began to question my “starving artist” image.
Hence, I held on to two jobs but began accepting various assignments in communication arts, like writing event spiels, doing choreography, writing video scripts, editing videos, doing voice over, hosting, training and directing not just stage plays but concerts, anniversary shows, contests, award shows and the like. It was my way of trying to get out of the “starving artist” image by going ---wait for it --commercial. Recognition came quickly with the money. However, I soon noticed that money never stayed long enough to be savored. I didn’t even know where they all went.
In my desire to look for greener pastures, I decided to move to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines and pursue my love for the arts there. I was fortunate enough to work with the Actors’ Workshop Foundation and having the opportunity to work with distinguished professional film and stage actors. Eventually, I had to find a bigger paying job to cover my monthly overhead and send some money back home as my contribution to family expenses – a Filipino practice I wanted to fulfill.
I ended up in an advertising agency where I began as a copy writer and moved on to become head of special projects and subsequently the creative director. Though I was working in the corporate world I still conducted trainings and talks on the side assigned to me by the Actor’s Workshop Foundation. Still, I never really got to save enough. What I did save while in Manila, all ended up being spent reestablishing myself back in Cebu.
Starving Artist Syndrome Effects and the Cycle of Poverty in an Artist's Life
I took on the work of teaching Play Production classes while reconnecting with the theater scene back home. I found myself living in the same pattern again – having a regular job and then doing my passion on the side. Until one day I found the courage to start a consultancy firm together with two of my siblings. It did not last long and soon I shifted to having a musical theater and productions group. For awhile, things were doing fine but eventually, things fell apart and I lost almost everything in the business. I soon realized that the starving artist syndrome has trapped me in the cycle of poverty common in an artist's life.
Thus began my anger toward my passion. Without me being aware, I was displaying signs of hating the fact that my passion for theater arts was not giving me the financial stability I so longed to have. I hated those who thought that being an artist was a waste of time. I abhorred those who did not value an artist’s contribution to preserving the culture of a society. I scoffed at those who thought we were only a bunch of hobbyists and not professionals like doctors or lawyers. I was mad and was taking it out on anyone and everyone who thought little of artists.
Next thing I knew, I was losing my self confidence. I was frustrated about my passion. I was withdrawing from my profession. I was in hiding – no longer wanting to use my talents and skills in whatever work opportunities that came. I felt small, incapable, a hypocrite, a loser of an artist. I reached a point when I actually believed I was a starving artist and will forever be one.
In my desire to understand what was happening to me, I was led to read books that exposed how negative belief systems kept people in the arena of constant lack. I began to understand how the power of words like “I’m a starving artist” could become a self fulfilling prophecy.
I researched more about the topic and found more books, articles, audio and video materials online that helped me better understand my state. I was determined to be free from the clutches of the starving artist syndrome.
- Love Yourself for Goodness Sake, Make This World a Better Place
- Of Quantum Physics, Neuroplasticity and Money Beliefs
- Start Investing in Yourself for Guaranteed ROI
- Team Building Exercises Using Theater Games
- Self Improvement Tips To Get Out of the Box
- APPRECIATE: The Act of Increasing the Value of What Is
- Inventory System: Feel Fully Express Totally in Loving Abundance
How To Stop the Cycle of Poverty in an Artist's Life
Stopping the cycle of poverty in an artist's life involves the changing of belief systems. Transforming the mindset of a Starving Artist to an Abundant Artist takes on several acts. Based on my personal experience, the transformation begins by looking into one's self with love and compassion.
Accept Infinite Love. The strongest point of the
transformation was the acceptance of the truth that I am loved by One who loves
me, no matter what and how I am – Father God, the source of Infinite love and abundance. I needed to receive this unconditional love with a grateful heart while acknowledging that the gift of talents and skills were given to me out of love and for love. I needed to own these gifts as treasures to help me produce and create masterpieces in the canvass of life. Creations that help uplift the state of every human being.
Love Yourself. It was only when I decided to love myself with the same unconditional love that I began to see the value of my work in many lives. It was amazing to receive several affirmations from various people at the time when I decided to love myself a little bit more. The affirmations have not stopped. They come in randomly and I am ever grateful.
Appreciate Yourself. I began adding value to each and
every experience I went through, be they pleasant or otherwise. Only then did I realize how
much my work background has allowed me to give motivational talks, conduct trainings and
seminars to various types of audiences both in the art world and the corporate
world. People began to take notice of how interesting it was that I could use theater games
in the behavioral workshops for corporate clients and that it was something
that not too many people could effectively carry out.
The more I appreciated
every experience, the more joy I found in my passion for theater arts as it was no longer just my profession but my mission as well.
Invest in Yourself and Get Out of the Box. Appreciating my work also meant increasing my knowledge on other areas I could improve on. The opportunities to earn more from my passion have always been there but I just never really learned how to use them in other venues. Besides, I lacked the financial management skills to handle money better.
I therefore invested on training and took every free and paid courses I could get online and offline to increase my market value and no longer shied away from opportunities. I accepted them with enthusiasm knowing my positive energy has attracted them into my life.
I explored beyond my field of specialty to venture into the world of multiple income streams and joined multilevel networking, cell phone loading, and even opened a mini store right at home. These were acts I snubbed in the past because they were not part of my image. Soon I got used to the idea and began investing in mutual funds, went into writing online with Hubpages, did some website building and am now working on a book and designing online training videos.
Boost Your Financial IQ. I have made peace with numbers and am learning more about how money works. It was a revelation to find that I have yet to work on several areas so that I could have enough funds to sustain me in my retirement age and live on passive income. I have become appreciative of the practicality of things and am better equipped to handle my workshop pricing, service rates, manage my income and invest them on appropriate venues so that my money ends up working for me and not the other way around.
The transformation continues, still.
Abundant Artists Alliance: A Creative Work in the Making
Writing this hub inspires me to design talks and training modules to help fellow artists in our city to transcend the starving artist syndrome and stop the cycle of poverty in an artist's life. In fact, my creative juices are now flowing with thoughts of forming an online community to serve as a global support group for “recovering starving artist syndrome victims”.
The possibilities are endless for artists who are open enough to see opportunities of growth and grab them by the horns without reservations or fear. I am an Abundant Artist and I shall continue to use my creativity to empower, motivate and inspire my fellowmen through the arts.
Be an Abundant Artist. Play your part as co-creator in this stage called Life.