How do artists survive? Free Ebook “Making Your Life as an Artist”

“Making Your Life as an Artist,” a free ebook, takes a serious and at times mordantly humorous look at the creative process of surviving and thriving as a professional artist

The arts in America are thriving. And American artists are astonishingly hard-working, driven, and adaptable. So why are so many artists exhausted, overwhelmed, and broke?

In his new book Making Your Life as an Artist, Andrew Simonet – choreographer, writer and, for 20 years, Co-Director of Headlong Dance Theater – offers answers to why anyone would choose the life of an artist, and how to manage that life. He shares what artists already know: building a life as an artist is a creative act, and using your artistic skills outside the studio can make it sustainable.

The book is downloadable at:

Simonet’s book does not offer “how-to” steps to succeed in the art world. You won’t gain gallery representation or get your play produced by reading it. Instead it shares carefully considered—and mordantly humorous—survival skills and techniques for sustaining a creative life.

As part of Simonet’s mission to put tools in the hands of artists, the e-book of Making Your Life as an Artist is free and available to all. It can be downloaded at

Simonet identifies artists’ skills at adapting to and navigating the ‘new economy’ by piecing together multiple jobs and blending wage work with entrepreneurship. Our part-time, self- generated, freelance, startup economy, says Simonet, is exactly the world artists have lived in for decades. Making shares artists’ insights for thriving under these conditions.

Making Your Life as an Artist challenges silly and damaging myths about artists:

Artists don’t contribute to society. Artists are cultural researchers, asking questions about thought, image, and the agreements that bind our society together. Artistic work anticipates, and then contextualizes, social movements like civil rights, feminism, and gay rights. In a culture where change is accelerating, artists generate resilience and reflection, new insights into our shifting lives.

Artists are lazy. Artists work incredibly hard, often too hard. Imagine having full-time work to support yourself and a second full-time job making art. Most artists in America are, at best, earning enough money from their art to cover the costs of making it.

Artists are bad with money. Artists are amazing with money; they usually don’t have enough of it. Through barter, reuse, problem-solving, and resourcefulness, artists produce large-scale projects with very little cash. Making art with limited resources requires incredible financial skill.

If I’m lucky as an artist I will “make it.” Inside and outside the art world, being “discovered” is the presumed route to success, and the myth that leads a lot of artist suffering. The vast majority of artists create and re-create their systems of support and survival every year.


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