We’d Rather Be Happy And Poor: The Starving Artist Lifestyle

Over the course of the past few events, I’ve been having some fantastic conversations with fellow vendors. We’ve talked about out art and our passions, past jobs that left us miserable and unfulfilled, and the ups and downs of working art markets and similar events. We all have different reasons for doing what we do, and we all take different approaches to running our small businesses:

  • Some are doing this for fun; some are doing this for work
  • Some are working multiple jobs, hoping one day they’ll be able to pursue their art full time; some have left the workforce to turn their passion into their career
  • Some discovered a new talent or passion as a result of the pandemic; some have been doing what they do for decades

And, of course, there are similarities that pop up:

  • Many of us are chronically ill and/or neurodivergent – our bodies and/or minds cannot cope with a “normal” job or traditional 9 to 5
  • Many of us have worked in toxic environments and decided we couldn’t take it any more
  • Many (if not all) of us are deeply passionate about our art

Personally, I cannot imagine a life without writing. Whether I become “successful” or not, I will never stop. And although I’ve been writing since I was 7 years old, the pandemic offered a great opportunity to pursue my dreams of publication.

I have had the misfortune of working some great jobs for horrible companies. I was sick and tired of being treated poorly by co-workers, managers, and clients. I was fed up with crying almost every day when I got home from work. And I am neurodivergent with chronic health issues. I have learned over the years that my mind and body are not capable of surviving a 9 to 5 office job. Working from home most days, I am able to take care of myself the way I need to. And I have the flexibility to save my spoons for events and rest afterwards.

Yes, I live paycheck to paycheck, and yes I wish I could pay my husband for all the free work he does for me. But I am so much happier as a self-published author, bouncing around from event to event, that I have ever been at any other job before. One thing some of my fellow artists and I can agree on is that we would rather be happy and poor doing what we do as opposed to being trapped in a toxic workforce.

So when you see us at art markets, conventions, and events, these are the people you’re purchasing from. For whatever reasons, we can’t and/or don’t want to do anything else. Rather than supporting faceless corporations who care little about their employees and consumers, support your local merchants and artists – both during this market season and beyond.

Thank you to everyone who supports and shops local. We love you.

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