How Are “Starving Artists” Really Able to Afford Rent?

May 4, 2014 15 3909 Hipster Commentary, J'Accuse
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It’s one of Bushwick’s greatest mysteries. No one really talks about it, but it’s the proverbial circus elephant in the room (I say circus elephant because it’s outfit is more hipster-inspired than nude elephants). How do the “starving artists” of the neighborhood really afford their exorbitant rents? The Burning Bush did a little investigative research and came up with some interesting and not at all surprising information.

 

Bushwick resident and "starving" artist Teddy Winston receives a weekly allowance from his father, a corporate lawyer

Bushwick resident and “starving” artist Teddy Winston receives a weekly allowance from his father, a corporate lawyer

After interviewing a number of malnourished sources, The Burning Bush discovered the primary source of funding: Parental backing. It’s a widely known truism that you have to be rich to be an artist in New York. Or rather, your parents have to be. Many of the artists we spoke to (mainly those off the Jefferson and Morgan stops), admitted their secret. Teddy Winston, an artist specializing in oil paintings of Quentin Tarantino, confessed, “I would never be able to live here and have time for my art if my dad didn’t give me two thousand dollars a week.”

Jillian Camera maintains an anorexic look to convince people she's really starving and not getting money from her parents.

Jillian Camera maintains an anorexic look to convince people she’s really starving and not getting money from her parents.

Another interviewee, Jillian Camera, displayed more guilt for receiving parental financing. She apologized, “I’m sorry for those who actually have to work. Sometimes, when I meet people for the first time, I pretend I have a job and suck my cheeks in a little more to appear like I can’t afford groceries.”

Other starving artists refuse to pay rent, sleeping on people's couches or on subway benches in order to not waste money on rent or time on a job.

Other starving artists refuse to pay rent, sleeping on people’s couches or on subway benches in order to not waste money on rent or time on a job.

Others we talked to, however, revealed a bit more ingenuity. In order to save money and have plenty of time to practice their chosen art, they rely on the kindness of friends, acquaintances and complete randos (especially those who receive their parents’ money) to survive on a minimal budget. Horatio Alavarez stated, “Between couch surfing and trading sex for food and drinks, I’m living like a king.”

Surviving for free

Surviving for free

As rents continue to increase in Bushwick, the type of starving artists who are able to live here will be entirely contingent upon the high-earning jobs their parents have. This, in turn, will affect the cleverer starving artists who scam the faux poor kids into letting them crash for awhile.

Written by Genna Rivieccio

 

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