Book Review 112: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

by | Jun 30, 2017 | 2017 Book Reviews, Marion's Favorite Books | 0 comments

Is the starving artist path the only accepted way in our society for an artist?

Jeff Goins answers that question in his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve (Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age). The starving artist mythos has been accepted by our culture and Goins has come up with twelve practical principles to show that an artist does not have to starve in making a living from their art.

The book is twelve chapters long with each chapter focused on a principle for the Thriving Artist.  The principles are:

1) The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one.

2) The Starving Artist strives to be original. The Thriving Artist steals from his influences.

3) The Starving Artist believes he has enough talent. The Thriving Artist apprentices under a master.

4) The Starving Artist is stubborn about everything. The Thriving Artist is stubborn about the right things.

5) The Starving Artist waits to be noticed. The Thriving Artist cultivates patrons.

6) The Starving Artist believes he can be creative anywhere. The Thriving Artist goes where creative work is already happening.

7) The Starving Artist always works alone. The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.

8) The Starving Artist does his work in private.  The Thriving Artist practices in public.

9) The Starving Artist works for free. The Thriving Artist always works for something.

10) The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns his work.

11) The Starving Artist masters one craft. The Thriving Artist masters many.

12) The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art.

Goins provides example of each Thriving Artist Principle from diverse artists like Michelangelo to Picasso to Elvis Presley to John Grisham to Dr. Dre.  Real Artists Don’t Starve is a book that blows up the Starving Artist persona and its something all artists should keep a reference guide on their bookshelf.

I will admit that I disagreed with Principle 11 about the Starving Artist masters one craft and the Thriving Artist masters many. I understood the author’s perspective of an artist not being so focused one discipline to the detriment of the myriad of skills needed to make a living from one’s art.  However, I found the Michael Jackson example of buying the Beatles catalog somewhat false because the singer’s business savvy and opportunistic nature did not take away from his craft of the being one of the best entertainers to have ever done it.  I believe artistic geniuses master one craft and being a jack-of-all-trades does not fully bring out artistic genius.

Despite that disagreement, I totally enjoyed Real Artists Don’t Starve will recommended it for all artists who want learn some timeless principles on how to make a living from their art.  I wrote in my review of Elizabeth Hyde Stevens’ Make Art Make Money that it would be my most important read of 2017.  Well, I will add Real Artists Don’t Starve to that list.





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