Real Artists Don’t Starve, an Introduction


I have followed Jeff Goins at Goins, Writer for several years, and he has become great mentor. I have read a number of his books and I have taken a few of his online courses. Today, I am excited to introduce you to his brand new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. As a creative person, this book strongly resonates with me.  Especially the concept that artists don’t have to starve for their creativity, in fact, they can thrive.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance was a period of time beginning in the 14th century in Italy and lasted into 17th century. It was a movement of “vigorous artistic and intellectual activity. The Renaissance resulted in an outpouring of literature, science, and art.

Great individuals confidently developed new skills and explored new techniques in sculpture, art, and literature. Gunpowder revolutionized warfare and the mariners’ compass allowed expansive travel and exploration. Printing was refined and enabled the rise of universities and the widespread sharing of information. The Renaissance was also a time of spiritual growth and change. It brought the world out of the dark, and into the light.

What has happened to our perceptions of art now? We appreciate classic works and the greats from the past, but what advice would you offer a friend today who wanted to major in fine art instead of business? Or someone who wanted to pursue acting instead of engineering?

The Myth of the Starving Artist

RADSIn his new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins says, “we are accustomed to a certain story about artists, one that says they are barely getting by.” Unfortunately, we have come to embrace the concept of the “Starving Artist” as a reality.

But the truth is, artists don’t have to starve, this picture of the “Starving Artist” is a myth.


In 1847 Murger published a collection of stories called Scènes de la vie de bohème. These stories romanticized the idea of a poverty stricken artist. The stories were was adapted as the opera La Bohème, and later spin offs include Rent and Moulin Rouge.

Murger’s stories, Jeff points out, “launched the concept of the Starving Artist into the public’s understanding as the model for a creative life.”

The Starving Artists seems to be the most popular vision of what creative people are capable of.

Consider what advice you would be given if you told a friend or family member that you wanted to pursue the creative arts. What would they say?

“Be careful.”

“What’s your backup plan?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to do something else and keep your art as a hobby?”

The truth, Jeff points out, is that “the story of the Starving Artist is a myth.” It doesn’t have to be reality.

Living a Myth

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo Buonarotti

Because of the power of this myth, this concept of the Starving Artist, many of us take the safe route in life. “We become lawyers instead of actresses, bankers instead of poets, and doctors instead of painters. We hedge our bets and hide form our true calling, choosing less risky careers, because it seems easier. Nobody wants to struggle, after all, so we keep our passion a hobby and follow a predictable path toward mediocrity.”

But What if You Could Make a Living as an Artist?

What if you don’t have to be a Starving Artist? What if you could be a Thriving Artist?

What would that idea do to change the way we approach our work and how we consider creativity’s importance in our world today?

What would that mean for the careers we choose and the paths we encourage our children to pursue?

Being a doctor, a lawyer, or a businessperson is considered a successful profession, not an artist. When people express their desire to pursue the arts, advice that is often given sounds something like:

“If you want success you need to get out of your head and play it safe.”

“Get a good degree so you have something to fall back on.”

“Don’t quit your day job.”

“Creativity is a great outlet for self-expression, but don’t count on it as a viable career.”

But the truth is that artists can be, have been, and are successful. Jeff points out that singers release a platinum records, authors make bestseller lists, and filmmakers launch blockbusters all the time. “You don’t have to starve.”


Every individual on this Earth is creative. Everything around us is a product of someone’s creativity. In fact every thought in our mind could be considered a creation.

Despite common perception, creativity is essential for success and it should be cultivated not suppressed.

“We all have creative gifts to share, and in that respect, we are all artists.” – Jeff Goins

I agree with Jeff that the myth of the Starving Artist has overstayed it’s welcome, we need a New Renaissance. To “build a life that makes creating your best work not only possible but inevitable.”

We must exchange the idea of a Starving Artist and replace it with a Thriving Artist.

The Rules of the New Renaissance

Jeff has found that there are creative individuals in nearly every field who aren’t starving. These artists all follow a similar set of principles that he has captured in his book. These principles are the Rules of the New Renaissance.

12 rules

Real Artists Don’t Starve explores these rules in the context of three major themes: mind-set, market, and money.

According to Jeff, “real artists don’t starve—or at least, they don’t have to.”

Starving Artist

Real Artists Don’t Starve

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  1. Goins, Jeff. (2017). Goins, Writer. Retrieved from
  2. Goins, Jeff. (2017). Real Artists Don’t Starve Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.
  3. (2003). Retrieved from
  4. (2017). Retrieved from

Krista Palo

I'm Krista, the owner and creator of Evolve. I have a masters degree in Business Administration and I am passionate about development, motivation, and change. I love stories in all of their forms, and believe in continuous learning and the power of positivity.

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