“woman lying on bed of white petaled flower” by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Why Is The Starving Artist Dead In A Ditch?

How an old concept is a false reality today.


The concept of the starving artist has only been around for a few hundred years. It started in 1847 when a man named Henri Murger published Scènes de la vie de Bohème which are a collection of stories that romanticize poverty.

The result of that published work brought the starving artist idea to light as plays were created from the stories. Examples are stories like Rent where we follow a filmmaker struggling to keep food on the table. There is also Moulin Rouge which revolves around a writer/poet living in a rundown room and falling in love with a cabaret actress and courtesan.

These plays and many others have seeped into the modern culture to give the impression that all artists are starving artists. It’s gotten to the point now that in modern culture people presume pursuing an arts degree or living a lifestyle as an artist is a joke.

But what is worse of all is that these sort of impressions have made several of us conform to them. That or we find it very difficult to refute it when it’s brought up in conversation.

Deep down, we know that the starving artist is indeed dead. As Michael Thompson has shown, we can work for free and still thrive. Furthermore, Jeff Goins and many artists out there have shown that we have what it takes to thrive.

People with these expectations that artists are poor or that they should be poor not only makes no sense but isn’t the norm.

An Artist’s Work Is Not Free

Let me ask you this:

When was the last time you bought music, bought a book, watched a video or movie, or read an article?

Outside of the one you’re reading right now, the last time was certainly at some point in time today. Maybe a few minutes ago or perhaps an hour ago. Whatever the case may be, you’ve been exposed to an artists work.

Some of these people who created this content may have done so for free with no expectation of payment. Perhaps some — like myself — get paid to create this sort of content. Some of those people may be getting paid a…



Eric S Burdon

Entrepreneur, positive-minded. I used to say a lot, but now I do a lot.