Breaking the Starving Artist Myth: Art Careers That Pay Well

11/25/10 by Michael Rorpino

Every time I told my friends back in high school that I was interested in art careers, they laughed and told me that I should focus on getting a real job.  After all, all artists are broke, miserable, and lonely, right?  If you’re a rich and successful artist, people call you a sellout, and if you’re a broke and jobless artist, people say, “I told you so!” Because of this catch-22, most people give up their dreams of entering art careers before they even reach adulthood.

But the truth is that the starving artist myth is just that: a myth.  You CAN make a living as an artist, and a darn good one if you put your mind to it.  Sure, you probably won’t make a six-figure income right off the bat, but if you choose a lucrative profession in the arts and work your proverbial tail off, it’s possible to succeed as a professional artist.  The following are some art careers that will allow you to live a comfortable life while pursuing your creative passions.


When most people think of art careers, they think of painters, but songwriters also fall into the artist category.  Songwriters might not have rock star status, but they make big bucks behind the scenes.  Most people think that famous musicians write their own songs, but the truth is that most singing acts haven’t written a single song in their entire career.  If you’re a talented musician and you have a knack for writing catchy tunes, art careers in songwriting can be very lucrative.  Every time a song becomes a hit, you’ll rake in gobs of cash and on top of that, you’ll get paid every time a song you write plays on the radio, on TV, in a movie, etc.

Makeup Artist

Behind every celebrity’s exceptional beauty is a talented makeup artist.  Successful makeup artists make $400 per day or more beautifying stars before they hit the red carpet or appear on television or movies.  The best way to become a makeup artist is by doing an apprenticeship with a successful makeup artist and getting some experience under your belt.


Are you a talented writer?  If you have a way with words, consider putting your skills to work in one of the most lucrative art careers for professional writers: screenwriting.  Whether you write the scripts for industrial training films or Hollywood blockbuster hits, there’s no shortage of lucrative screenwriting opportunities.


Curators have rewarding, exciting, and relatively well-paid jobs.  As a curator, you’ll be responsible for acquiring new items, conducting research about them, and displaying them to the public.  You’ll wear many hats in your career as a curator, working in administration, PR, technology, and other diverse areas.

Visual Effects Supervisor

Art careers in visual effects supervising require a strong technical background and a passion for creativity.  The need for visual effects supervisors is growing because an increasing number of TV shows and movies are using computer effects.  As a visual effects supervisor, you can expect to make a salary in the six figures.

Now that we’ve showed you that there is indeed money to be made in art careers, in our next article, we’ll tell you what training you need to get to qualify.  Stay tuned if you’d like to find out exactly how to break into these lucrative fields!

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