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How You Can Help to End the ‘Starving Artist’ Stereotype by Giving Credit Where It’s Due

How You Can Help to End the ‘Starving Artist’ Stereotype by Giving Credit Where It’s Due

There’s always the stereotype of artists being broke. Creativity is seemingly encouraged but creative types often seemed ostracized. Music programs in schools are often underfunded and sometimes even cut out from districts completely. The assumption that artists should work for free is recurrent. Many young artists today are urged to find something “more practical.” All of these and more perpetuate the notion that art isn’t as important as it truly is to our society.

As millennials, we consume media more than ever. It’s inevitable with our technology that we consume art at an alarmingly continuous rate. Unfortunately, this also comes with so much art going uncredited. Forms like music, design, and film are everywhere– and as people who enjoy art we can all aid in changing this societal issue by helping to push the importance of it in our everyday lives, and giving artists the acknowledgment that they need. Despite being such a large and complex issue, any small action is a contribution.

Being both a consumer and creative, this is a very relevant issue I feel strongly about. I talked to some of my fellow artists and art enthusiasts about simple ways to help out your local artists and support their craft:


Asking someone to personally make you a design, illustration, etc. means they are taking time, money, and effort to create something for you. It helps to be upfront by asking the artist how much they charge since it can sometimes be awkward for someone to demand compensation for their services — even if they rightfully should. Friends help friends keep making their art by not expecting free work!

“When it comes to commission work, especially when commissioning for a friend, I think it’s important that there is mutual respect and understanding coming from both sides of the equation. It’s important that consumers recognize the artist put in time and effort into their craft, and therefore, shouldn’t necessarily be obligated to give free handouts, especially when they are working hard to create a better state for themselves…” – Mika, visual artist


Downloading work for free that’s meant to be distributed for purchase… That’s something Warren from Empire Records would do. If you’re on a budget, streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify often have promotions or student discounts that make it super affordable to listen to your favorite artists while giving them the royalties they need.

“I’m constantly trying to find ways to improve my music in terms of production and to keep my tracks on streaming platforms for people to listen to… and things like new editing programs and distribution subscriptions cost money. Although music isn’t my full time job, royalties — no matter how little the amount —  really help broke college student creatives like me to grow.” – urbanation, musician

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Muchacha Los Angeles – Handmade Earrings | @shopmuchachala



I love getting gifts, and I love them even more if I know they’re one of a kind. Aside from perusing sites like Etsy and Big Cartel, what better way to shop for unique pieces for Mom/Best Friend/Boyfriend’s birthday than to visit your local flea market? Melrose Trading Post in LA, TreasureFest in San Francisco, and Chelsea Flea Market in NYC are all one-stop-shops for your handcrafted jewelry, paintings, and other cute finds. Supporting local businesses means giving creators the ability to keep creating.

“I love returning to see the same vendors, and new ones too. You get a chance to meet the people who curate their own space and put heart into what they’re selling.” – Taylor Oryall, art enthusiast & flea market regular

Starving Artist Tee via Emily Jackson FW19 | @bluejeanbabyem



While wearing any of my pieces designed by local or upcoming brands, I always have the intention of introducing the artist when someone compliments me or asks me where I bought my clothing. It feels kind of chic to gush about your custom made piece, and it’s a great way to give the designer exposure. Sometimes, word of mouth is really the best method of advertising.








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Living in an age where nothing exists if it wasn’t in your story… Yes, this notion can be a good thing! I like to use social media platforms as a way to give my favorite artists I love by showcasing pieces on my story or Instagram feed and tagging the artist’s profile. Also, putting my friends onto new graphic artists or clothing designers by DMing their posts is something I do on the regular without even realizing it. Social media can seriously be an artist’s best friend when it comes to reaching an audience. Exhibit A: Ada Chen and her iMessage earrings that took off when she shared them with the world via web.

by Bianca Ocampo
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