This really happened. Look up Ernest Malley. The title character of Franz Kafka 's The Hunger Artist not only doesn't make much for his completely under-appreciated art form, but he also represents this trope in the most literal way imaginable by using self-starvation as his medium. Kafka himself was an example. Though Kafka's art wasn't his livelihood, and he never even attempted to publish his works and ordered them destroyed in his will - a clause which thankfully wasn't fulfilled. Also note that Kafka actually had pretty well-paying and thoroughly bourgeois job as an insurance agent, which he, however, felt to be empty and unfulfilling, thus turning his passion to writing.
James Joyce lived much of his life in poverty, and by extension his Author Avatar Stephen Dedalus, in Ulysses , does as well.
The protagonists of the Jason Keltner mysteries start out as a starving musician, a starving artist, and a starving actor, and get drawn into mysteries when Jason is set up to take the fall or otherwise fail. Years later they become comfortable on steady commercial work; far from starving, but also far from what they envisioned as success.
In Veniss Underground , Nicholas starts the novel as an unsuccessful holo artist, dependent on loans from his sister. Knut Hamsun wrote the novel Hunger in , telling the story of a writer who Went around in Christiania, starving. Live-Action TV. In Seinfeld , Elaine's ex-boyfriend was an artist.
She remarks that he's pretty fat for an artist. Most of the time when the Girl of the Week was an artist on Seinfeld, there were remarks that it was probably why their work was expensive. One Patient of the Week on House was an artist who couldn't sell any of his work and participated in clinical trials to get money so he could hide this from his girlfriend. The blonde dad from My Two Dads was this and was called this by the brunette dad. In an episode of The Golden Girls Blanche gives money to an artist she meets in the waiting room at the mental health clinic who had burned all his brushes to stay warm.
He turns out to be a compulsive liar. Richard in Caroline in the City , scraping by on being Caroline's colorist while waiting for his break. One episode addressed it directly when a doodle he made and accidentally sent in with Caroline's comic generated some interest, Richard flat-out refused. Richard said he didn't want to sell out; Caroline wondered if he wasn't just in love with the whole romantic idea of the Starving Artist.
Brian Topp in Spaced. His work is inspired by "anger His Perpetual Poverty once left him unable to pay the rent and required him to make an, ahem, arrangement with his landlady.
He's never been able to live it down. When Caitlin gets a Visit by Divorced Dad in Caitlin's Way , he is a potter and his lack of money gets him blamed for a counterfeit scam. As mentioned in the Real Life section, Van Gogh's paintings never sold well when he was alive, and the episode focuses heavily on the man's mental health on account of this, his depression, and his psychic visions which make him seem crazy. The Fourth Doctor, " the bohemian ", borrows heavily from the romanticised image of this character type in terms of his scruffy physical appearance, fashion sense, interests art, poetry, music, acting - he is one of only a few Doctors who show any interest in creating art himself and other superficial personality traits.
The original concept for his costume design was the famous poster of Aristide Bruant by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. His actual personality is much weirder than this, though. To a lesser extent, her young, photogenic, animal activist room-mate Lacy Thornfield. In Fawlty Towers , Polly does sketches, but doesn't sell enough to let her quit her hectic waitressing job. The HBO series of the same name portrays the Flight of the Conchords as broke artists and plays it for laughs.
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In the episode, "New Cup", they can't pay rent this month because Bret bought a cup, not an unusual expensive cup, a regular cup. In the finale, they get evicted not because they didn't pay rent, but because they were paying in New Zealand dollars. Though they're bad and not Giftedly Bad so much as comically bad. She's reduced to auditioning for the part of "D-Day Doris" in a play touring retirement homes because she can't find any other work.
Stuart from The Big Bang Theory is a graduate of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and a talented illustrator, considering the quite stunning sketch of Penny he did back in season one.
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He's also spent most of the series' run stuck in Perpetual Poverty , as the comic store he runs , which is also his primary source of income, tends to barely allow him to make ends meet. Occasionally his luck does improve, though. Supernatural , " Crossroad Blues ": George Darrow sold his soul to a demon in exchange for artistic talent and spent the next ten years making amazing paintings Broke and alone, he spends his last days working on his final masterpiece and wishing he'd asked the demon for fame and fortune instead.
Jellinek on Strangers with Candy quits his teaching job to pursue his dream of being an artist and within days is homeless and penniless. Somewhat justified in that we pay teachers shamefully low wages so it's not unrealistic that he wouldn't have much savings.
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My Sister Eileen and The Musical Wonderful Town have Ruth Sherwood, an aspiring young writer whose stories don't come back only when she can't pay the return postage, and her sister Eileen, a would-be actress. They don't get much choice in what food they eat and have difficulty coming up with money for subway and bus fares. He's still dirt poor because he spends most of his time writing satiric letters that insult everyone he sees as false — which is everyone. His willingness to spend an entire month's allowance on a single grand gesture doesn't help either.
The poets who frequent Raguenau's company are less sympathetic examples: they claim to love his poetry but only want to eat his food for free. Video Games. Harynx: The way you capture the moonlight on those bushes I don't know anyone who can draw like that. You've got talent. You could be an artist. Meridian: No. I tried being an artist, and I failed. Talent doesn't mean anything if no one buys your work. You can't eat talent. And you don't either.
We're not slaves; we're free! We can choose to do whatever we want with our lives. Meridian: Yeah, okay. Are we free from hunger? From the elements? Are we free from the necessity of selling off our days to other, wealthier people for the money to keep ourselves alive? No slaver's going to kill me if I decide to return to drawing. They don't have to. Starvation's waiting just around the corner with a cudgel, and it's happy to do the job.
Web Comics. The character is based on Lar deSouza, a friend of the author who really was a homeless artist for a time. Years after the creation of the character, deSouza took over as artist for the comic strip. In Koan Of The Day , the guru never has any money.
Crusader in Jay And Crusader. Living with Insanity : David has no day job, he just makes comics with Paul. But it's shown this nets them no income. Andrew Hussie of MS Paint Adventures has a bit of this in that he needs to regularly put out new merchandise to cover the costs of all the bandwidth his fanbase generates. In Squid Row , Randie ekes out a living from her jobs. In Webcomic Name , one artist wants to devote their life to art, but in doing so, they don't have any income and they die buried under a tombstone that reads "Oh no".
Web Original. We look so sad because we're starved Tonight for dinner we're splitting a candy bar. Western Animation. After Squidward quits his job in Spongebob Squarepants , he becomes a starving artist.
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No one wanted his paintings so he had to eat them. It turns out that when Art Camp is out they work at Sprubway , where they get all the sandwiches that drop on the floor. Bret : Unless we drop them on purpose. Jemaine : They have cameras on us all the time. Clerk: Are you trying to bribe me Dan: Come on, aren't you a starving artist? It's a really good sandwich. Real Life. One example, in particular, is Vincent van Gogh , who used the very little money he made to buy art supplies and lived on coffee and absinthe.
Chase: Wow! Jeff: Not really. Basically … and he propagated this myth. So if you went to art school you understood that maybe Michelangelo was better off than most but Michelangelo when he was painting the Sistine Chapel wrote to his father. Obviously, he was being hyperbolic. Michelangelo got paid over a 1 million dollars to paint the Sistine Chapel. I mean it would be one thing if he were an outlier. Before him, artists were not quite broke but they were like blue collar working Joes, lower middle class people.
They were more like artisans. They kept shops and they would bring their work to the market and they would sell it and occasionally get maybe a well-off patron. There were a handful of people that did better than average but that was the job. After Michelangelo, he set a new precedent and there were generations of wealthy artists who followed him.
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