5 Things I’ve Learned As A “Struggling Artist”

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I use the term struggling artist loosely. I don’t think of myself as a struggling artist, more of a “just starting to take this creative endeavour seriously” artist. But as I have moved to a new city and basically started my life over I guess I qualify as a struggling artist. Life is confusing as a creative but here are somethings I’ve learned as a late bloomer artist so far. And my list was longer but I think I’ll save the rest for a different post 🙂


1. There is more than one way to make money as a struggling artist – All my life I had been taught that you get a skill and you become really good at that skill. You know, go to school, pick what you want to do for the rest of your life and then work away for the next 40 years till you can retire. That’s great in all, but how was I going to choose ONE thing. This idealism kept me awake at night and caused me so much stress and anxiety. I just couldn’t wrap my head around that you were allowed to make income more than one way.

I am a multi-passionate creative – I draw, I do photography and I am a writer. How was I supposed to choose just ONE to do for the rest of my life? Good news, you don’t. I make money mostly through art and photography now and honestly, more than one stream of income is the key to life

2. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t make money as an artist – There is SO MUCH MONEY to be made as an artist omg. I sold one of my designs for two weeks wage to a clothing company. My heart stopped when I realized how much brands will pay for artwork. Same with photography. Amazing photographers charge upwards of $500 for photoshoots and into the $1000’s for brand photoshoots. So don’t let anyone tell you you can’t make money because in todays world there are too many brands to count and every opportunity to succeed. 

3. People will shit on you – I cannot take criticism. I am so personal with my artwork and I get so defensive. I remember I did a painting of a guy with a cherry blossom tree growing out of his back and my grandma said it looked like something out of the holocaust. Rude. Even though I still clench my jaw at criticism I know it’s going to happen so try to not take it too personally.. or at least not dwell on it 

4. You’re not as late as you think – For the longest time I felt so behind when it came to my career. I already mentioned that I didn’t know you could choose more than one thing to earn a living so for years I left myself in limbo because of that. I remember I thought my life was over at 24 lol. I specifically remember being with Aaron in Hong Kong being like “This is it. I’m a failure. I’m too old and no one will like me.” So dramatic and it prevented me from fully enjoying Hong Kong. Most of us in our twenties have no idea what we’re doing. The world has completely changed and the rules are different to our parents. I personally rather struggle for 5 years trying to make it then get cozy at a good paying job and never giving my passions a chance. 

5. You need to get vulnerable – I still struggle with this. You can blatantly see it in my writing. I censor myself when I write because I know people I know in the real world are going to read it and judge me. But think about it. Your favourite artist, creative, musician – you probably know their story and struggle. It’s your story that’s going to set you apart and able you to build relationships with people. I know social media portrays this perfect world but it’s the imperfections we relate too. So as an artist we need to learn to be vulnerable, even if it makes us uncomfortable. 




What are some things you’ve learned as a struggling artist? Share in the comments <3 


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Antonina Lovyn
    March 29, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s crazy how much I can relate. I am an artist too and I come from a very traditional Ukrainian family where an art career is a joke, so I was forced to go into business instead. I still went ahead and got my second degree, which was in art. And I am so glad I did!! I won’t let anyone stop me from creating, art is a beautiful thing and should not be suppressed.


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