Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, by Jeff Goins
If you major in art, you’ll starve! If you want to be a writer, you’ll never make a decent living! These are two of the myths that most of us have heard growing up. And they are the myths that author Jeff Goins wants to eradicate in his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.
As the author explains,
You don’t have to starve. Today there is a New Renaissance changing everything we thought we knew about creative work—one that is turning Starving Artists into Thriving Artists—and all we have to do is embrace it. We can, in fact, create work that matters and earn a living doing so. We can share our gift with the world without having to suffer for it. And the sooner we acknowledge this opportunity, the sooner we can get on with doing our work.
The author uses Michelangelo as his primary illustration, along with stories and lessons from Jim Henson, C. S. Lewis, Dr. Dre, George Lucas, John Lassiter, and many others. He divides the book into three major sections—Mind-set, Market, and Money. In the area of Mind-set, we need to realize that artists are not born, they are developed; you don’t have to be an original but simply build on the work of others; you should learn from a master rather than try to grow by your lonesome; and you need to be stubbornly persistent. In the area of Market, an artist cultivates patrons, goes to where creativity is happening, collaborates with others, and demonstrates their work in public. Regarding Money, an artist doesn’t do anything for free, they own their own work, diversify their portfolio, and make money in order to make more art.
In the Renaissance, artists were not aristocrats as Michelangelo hoped to become. But he was committed to not only making a living but earning the respect of his peers. It was not easy, but in the end, he changed the game for artists. How did he do this?
First, he mastered his mind-set. When many artists were opening shops to train apprentices, he resisted such temptations to conform. He knew that to make for himself, he would have to think differently. He befriended those in power so he didn’t have to beg for scraps. He became an apprentice.
Then he mastered the market, plugging into a web of influential relationships that included popes, kings, patrons who helped his work thrive. Building this network ensured he’d never starve.
Finally, he mastered his money, earning ten times what an average artist made by charging what he was worth. He invested in land and property, which secure his position as an aristocrat. Only the wealthy owned property. But long after he had more than enough money, he kept creating, living twice as long as the average person and creating an unforgettable legacy. He made money to make more art.
The book is both informative and encouraging. It also provides practical ideas on how to pursue your art and craft in the midst of your daily life until you get to the point where you can do it fulltime.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.