How to Survive the Artist Lifestyle


Let’s start off by saying that living the starving artist lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people are not comfortable living below the poverty line, and others simply cannot choose art over survival for a multitude of reasons. But for some people, starting out as a starving artist is a necessary step to success.

However, don’t quit your job and start living as a starving artist without knowing how you will survive. Unless you are a trust fund baby or have a huge amount in your savings account, you have to prepare yourself for what it truly means to be a starving artist.


With that, here are some tips that can help you survive out there:

1. Get a head start before you quit your job

Before you quit your job and set out to become a starving artist, it helps to establish a foundation first. For example, if you are a writer, try working with a reputable self-publishing company first so that you can gain traction before giving up your main source of income. Or if you are a digital artist, create a robust portfolio and at least a small pool of clients. This way, you can establish sources of income for when you leave your main job and start pursuing an artist career.

2. Get comfortable living with less

One of the best survival tips for starving artists is to stretch out your money as much as possible, and this means living below your means. While your income is not steady yet, you have to ensure that you can pay for all your needs without ending up in the red. So, rent an affordable place, shop at discount stores, and curb your shopping habits—with enough time, your sacrifices will pay off in the end.

3. Learn how to eat healthy while being cheap

Being a starving artist doesn’t mean you have to literally starve. After all, how can you create your art if you don’t have the energy? That said, learn how to eat healthy on a smaller food budget. Fill up on healthy yet inexpensive foods like potatoes, rice, eggs, canned tuna, as well as fruits and vegetables. Prioritize food that is both filling and nutritious—and you’ll be able to stretch out your food budget while staying healthy.

4. Freeze your credit cards

Having a credit card can be useful in certain circumstances, but if you don’t have the discipline to only use it for expenses that are absolutely necessary, then you are better off without them. When you have an unstable income, you don’t need debt that you are not sure you can pay off the following month. Hence, freeze your credit cards until you are in a better financial position to incur debt.

5. Get a part-time job

For some people, living without at least one stable source of income is downright impossible. If you belong in the same boat, it is highly advisable that you get at least one part-time job to supplement your expenses. Working a few hours out of the day or a few days out of the week won’t take much time from your art, and can focus better knowing that you have money to pay rent next month.

6. Consider living with your parents

Many people think that going back to your parents’ house is a proverbial white flag, but when you think about it, you can save so much money if you live rent-free (unless your parents will charge you rent, of course). If this is an option for you, take it into consideration while you ramp up your career as an artist.

7. Put your plans for the family on hold

The starving artist lifestyle is often impossible if you have people to support other than yourself. With that in mind, it may be better to put off having kids for now. And if you don’t want to rely on your partner for your needs, maybe push those wedding plans a little bit further into the future.

8. Identify your biggest expenses

Tracking your expenses will help you determine what you’re spending the most on. If those things are unnecessary to your life, be it Starbucks drinks or nights out at the club, cut them out of your lifestyle and spend the money on more important things.

Becoming a successful artist doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, many of the big names in history and at present started out as starving artists. If you are ready to pursue this lifestyle for the sake of your future career in art, keep these tips in mind to make life less difficult than it needs to be.