Debunking the myth of the “starving artist”


Breaker Live

Performance art unfolds in the LBHS quad during FLOW week. Art teacher Mrs. Jamie Kough has worked as a teacher while maintaining her career as an active artist for years.

Maxwell Sauers, Reporter

When the term “starving artist” was created, it was to talk about how it was impossible to make any money from the arts and how if you did pursue arts as a career, you were going to live your life penniless. Nowadays, the arts is a thriving industry, which makes the term “starving artist” irrelevant. Unfortunately, many high schoolers have been scared to pursue the arts as an academic path toward a career, and they would rather pursue a job that they don’t enjoy, leaving their dreams behind. Additionally, many more colleges are offering art classes and even scholarships, making the art world much broader than it may have once seemed.

(“Follow Your Dreams – Cancelled” by graffiti artist Banksy)

“The arts are everywhere, in all companies both large and small,” said art teacher Jamie Kough.  “Arts practices teach its owners to be creative problem solvers that are often very resourceful.  Those that sell work or have to negotiate business deals are also good with money and understand craftsmanship, money, and the cost of time.”

Many people today still feel as if artists are people who live paycheck to paycheck and that they can’t make a sustainable amount of money to live happily. However, in the past 10 years, the arts industry has skyrocketed, and the salary of artists has risen, as well. 

For those considering pursuing future studies and careers in the arts, or in any field in which they feel uncertainties, LBUSD has a wonderful resource in Mrs. Kellee Shearer, our district’s college and career specialist. 

“Many professional career/trade associations allow students to be involved,” said Shearer. “Students should check to see if there are professional associations in their passion fields that allow for student members and join to learn more about that career field.”

There are over 300 accredited fine arts schools in the U.S. and many more that offer excellent courses in fine arts. Many art colleges provide the same level of rigor and career preparation that a student would expect from a traditional academic university. There are about 2.1 million people in the arts workforce, and many of them have attended an arts college.

”It is important to remember that there are MANY ways to a successful and fulfilling career path.  College is not the path for everyone to their future career or college may become important later along the journey,” said Shearer.