Vanessa Turner - Artist & Coach

© All rights reserved. Vanessa Turner Fine Art 2022

Click "Enter" to submit the form.

The Starving Artist Mindset

The Starving Artist Mindset has become commonplace. Did you know that Wikipedia ACTUALLY has a page titled “Starving Artist“. They define it as follows:

A starving artist is 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.

The fact that there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to this terms tells us how common the Starving Artist Mindset has become.

But the Starving Artist Mindset is just that… a mindset. It’s a mindset that creeps in quietly spreading feelings of failure, and hopelessness and sprinkling around self doubt like glitter at a 5 year old’s birthday party… Some for you, some for me, a little bit more for you…

We’ve all been there and it’s a dangerous place, because THAT is where dreams often die.

As an artist, you deserve to find success in your passion. So it’s important to recognise the Starving Artist Mindset within us. In my time coaching women artists, there are 7 Starving Artist Mindsets that surface often, keeping artists broke and frustrated:

The Starving Artist Mindset - Lady sitting in front of her paintings on the floor

As an artist, you deserve to find success in your passion. So it’s important to recognise the Starving Artist Mindset within us. In my time coaching women artists, there are 7 Starving Artist Mindsets continue to reoccur, keeping artists broke and frustrated:

  1. You’re just sitting and waiting for your big break
  2. You feel guilty charging people for your work
  3. You never think about the business side of art
  4. You don’t market yourself because you think self promotion is sleazy
  5. You feel as though you never have enough time, space, materials etc.
  6. You’d rather complain about the struggle than beat it
  7. You don’t believe in your own magic

Which of these mindsets 1-7 have you battled most with?

Mindset 1 – You’re Just Sitting and Waiting For Your Big Break

So you’re just sitting and waiting huh? Hoping divine intervention will create instant wealth and fame one day? Well, that could certainly be your plan… but it’s a terrible plan, that will ensure you remain a starving artist for some time.

Success does not happen overnight. It takes years! It takes time to develop your artistic voice, to test your methods, network in the industry and build a career. But your daily commitment and efforts will allow you to experience mini wins, persevere through challenges and ultimately “create” your big break”. – You got it! Don’t wait for the big break, CREATE IT!

Mindset 2 – You Feel Guilty Charging People For Your Work

You have found a career, a skillset that you love. Amen for that, as some people never find theirs. You’re working HARD to master your medium… BUT for some reason you feel that you don’t deserve compensation for your WORK.

The thing that so many artist struggle with, is charging what their work is worth. If you don’t define the value of your hard work, then you’re leaving the door wide open for EVERYONE to DEVALUE your work. Set a precedent. You can always adjust your prices based upon the market and your experience. – If we don’t take ourselves seriously, how can we expect anyone else to?

Art Collectors Don't Want Sales & Discounts

Mindset 3 – You never think about the business side of art

I see so many artists that don’t consider their art as a business, but yet complain about low profits. A business is like machine. if you neglect its “working parts”, it will ultimately fail.

There are approx. 2 million artists in the USA. Historical data shows that within 5 years, only 40% remain working artists, and only 10% will persist far beyond that. These numbers are scary, so let’s ensure your art doesn’t become a statistic!

Being an artist is a profession AND a business. Who is your customer? What are your production costs and overhead? What is your pricing strategy? These questions are not listed to overwhelm you, but to get your mind thinking so that you can be more informed.

Mindset 4 – You don’t market yourself, you think self promotion is sleazy

Self promotion is a part of doing business. Promotion is simply a way to develop interests and to help people find you. Many artists consider themselves as “people only”. So, they skip out on self promotion because it feels awkward. We feel as though we may come across as conceited or bothersome.

But remember you are a “business“! People can’t buy your work if they no idea that you exist. Your target market wants to hear from you! They need your work! With a change in mindset, the right strategy, and confidence level, you’ll find it easier to promote your work, connect with people who truly appreciate your work, and eventually sell more!

Mindset 5 – You feel as though you never have enough time, space, materials, freedom etc.

Successful artists don’t frame things around “not enough”. I guarantee you, there will NEVER be enough time, money, appreciation etc. This scarcity mindset is ultimately a ‘fear mindset’ which makes us feel that our work will not be “good enough” until all of our desires fall into place.

Moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset shifts our focus entirely. An abundance mindset allows us to see our present life with gratitude, to trust in ourselves, and to bring peace into our journey. 

Mindset 6 – You’d rather complain about the struggle than beat it

There are two types of people: those who have reasons and those who have results. Which are YOU? You can have reasons or you can have results, but you can’t have both.

If you are more content with your excuses and REASONS then you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. You’ll be too fixed on all that is challenging and limiting to notice opportunities passing you daily. That’s what we call ‘fear masquerading as resistance’. You’re so scared of failure that you’d rather not even try.

But if you want to be a successful artist, you have to show up, you have to do the work. When we make decisions and take actions that supports our goals, we get RESULTS. Even though you may not see the progress happening over days, weeks or months, one thing is for sure, it’s building and the RESULTS will come!

Mindset 7 – You don’t believe in your own magic

You use words like ‘aspiring’ or ‘trying’ instead of declaring who you are and owning it. If you don’t position yourself as someone to be taken seriously, it makes it challenging for others to do so? We set the intention of who we are before anyone else.

If in the back of your mind you don’t believe 100% in your artwork. So, it can make self-promotion feel terrifying. But self-belief helps you to feel more authentic and sincere, so that you don’t feel like an imposter. Instead you want to feel like  a go-getter!

A mindset full of self doubt and limitations it not what you want when your magical moments are lurking. Positive thinking is a daily practice that is necessary to harness opportunities. I know this doesn’t come easy, but it can be improved with practice. You deserve to find success in your passion!

Together We CAN

I know it’s one thing to talk about and read about mindsets, but it another thing to actively work on adjusting them. It’s not easy but it’s necessary! When you are ready to let go of the mindsets that keep you broke and frustrated, and step into your true potential, I’d be happy to provide you with the support to foster your success.

Time and again, my artist clients have told me that I’m more of a partner than a coach. And that’s because, when we work together, I’m whole heartedly invested in your development and upward growth. To learn more about coaching services, schedule a FREE call. Together we can!


  • 5 Steps to Building an Art Career While Working Full-Time – Artist & Creativity Coach – Vanessa Turner

    […] we go any further, this is numero uno! Get into the right mindset. Talk the talk that supports you. Declare today “I am an artist!” Say it aloud and post it […]

Leave a Comment.