Kanye West by Walid Azami

Starving Artist is a phrase that’s been around for decades. If you want a successful career as any type of creative artist, you have to dismiss one critical statement that really damaged our industry. That statement is “Starving Artist”. And it has caused more damage and more self-doubt to artists across the globe than probably anything else. Before we get on the case of non-paying clients or people who want to get the lowest offer out of us, we have to recalibrate ourselves. Listen to the podcast below!


What does starving artist mean or what does it do? The phrase starving artist normalizes the struggle that artists have had for centuries: they must barely make ends meet if they would like to be considered serious artists.


It normalizes taking advantage of artists and the work that they create because we must keep them starving to appreciate them. Only when they pass away should the value increase. It normalizes prejudice within our own community because if a creative is making a lucrative salary then they must be a sellout, right?


That if you dare make money you are no good and neither is your work. Since artists are their work, it’s a double banger. It means that if you choose to put food on your table and purchase a home you must “sell out”.

It means that if you strive for something better with your beautiful work then you are no longer an artist. To be a true artist, a true photographer… You must struggle.


Who do you think benefits from this phrase? Who benefits from us having internal fighting and judging each other? Who do you think pushes this concept? I think it’s the people who would hire you, the wealthy, the big corporations, the media… All of them benefit from our work. And if we understand our pure value, they would be paying a whole lot more. It does not matter what type of art you make, charge for it. You should never starve, in fact you should be doing better than the customers purchasing from you.


We build television shows and music videos, songs and photographs, commercials and book covers. We cover ugly and beautiful city walls with our work, giving it texture and stories. We could even make the darkest alleys relevant. We share stories with the world and build incredible dating profiles that get the ring on the finger. We, as creative artist launch brand after brand. We are the brand shapers, we are the brand makers and they could not do what they do without us.

If you want to learn more about photography and how to make money, sign up here. It’s my photography survival kit and you get a lot of cheat sheets. You get worksheets and first offers. You’re welcome!