How to Survive the Artist Lifestyle


Let’s start by saying that living the starving artist lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people are uncomfortable living below the poverty line, and others cannot choose art over survival for many reasons. But for some people, starting as a starving artist is necessary for success.

However, don’t quit your job and start living as a starving artist without knowing how to survive. Unless you are a trust fund baby or have a considerable amount in your savings account, you must 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 to gain traction before giving up your primary 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 artistic 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, which means living below your means. While your income is not steady, you must ensure 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 ultimately pay off.

3. Learn how to eat healthy while being cheap

Being a starving artist doesn’t mean you have to 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, and 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 helpful in certain circumstances. Still, if you don’t have the discipline to use it for necessary expenses, you are better off without them. When you have an unstable income, you don’t need debt. You are unsure you can pay off the following month. Hence, freeze your credit cards until you are better financially able 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, you should 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 you 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 parent’s 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, consider it while ramping 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 further into the future.

8. Identify your most significant expenses

Tracking your expenses will help you determine what you’re spending the most on. If those things are unnecessary, 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. Many of the big names in history and at present started as starving artists. If you are ready to pursue this lifestyle for the sake of your future art career, keep these tips in mind to make life less complicated than it needs to be.