Work and Money
How This Entrepreneur Is Challenging the ‘Starving Artist’ Trope
“I knew in my lifetime I would open an art business despite ‘the starving artist’ stigma,” Dominique Davenport tells CircleAround. “It's been my life's mission to be a successful artist because a girl loves to eat, but mainly because this is my passion. I love creating. I love seeing my ideas come to fruition, no matter the length of time it takes.”
Today, Davenport owns a small business called Lovedom in the Bronx. As a Puerto Rican, Black woman born in the housing projects of Brooklyn, she learned firsthand that the only way to get good at something is by doing it often. “It’s a blessing and even miracle for me to have a small business especially with my background,” Davenport explains. “If you know anything about Brownsville, it’s known as one of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods with the most housing projects in a mile radius. I knew I always wanted more for my life than what I saw around me.”
At 15 years old, she began monetizing her art by taking commissions to paint and draw portraits. Davenport knew it would be difficult to turn her passion into a career, though. It’s notoriously difficult to “make it” in the arts, but Davenport was determined to prove she could do it. She embraced the hustle, oftentimes coming home from her day job to work on her art and designs well into the early hours of the morning.
When Davenport was eventually laid off from her full-time job at a jewelry design company, she says it was a blessing in disguise. “For the first time in my life, I had time to really think and plan my art career.”
“Being a small business owner and juggling different creative mediums is definitely challenging but rewarding,” she tells CircleAround. Davenport still takes commissions for portraits, but now also experiments with other mediums. She creates decorative art products out of resin and acrylic and she is a recording artist, creating music inspired by her art, and vice versa.
Davenport sets up unique displays at artist markets around New York City, connects with customers, and gets referrals through her network, all without the help of a mentor.
“I don’t have anyone who I can go to for business advice or suggestions, so I spend a lot of time researching how to accomplish things…. I’m at the stage where I’m doing most everything alone until I generate enough revenue to outsource. I know it’ll happen and that’s what keeps me grounded and persevering.”
To avoid being a “starving artist,” she says she works extra hard to stay on top of production goals. “The best thing I can suggest is getting organized and planning all the to-dos on a calendar. I wake up and make a list of all the tasks I need to get done and try to separate the list by what I can easily accomplish to what can be challenging.”
“In many instances, it's best to get the most challenging task out of the way first, but not all days are created equally,” she adds. “I remind myself if I do a little every day, everything will eventually come together.”
Creating a financially stable life for yourself as an artist has its challenges, but with perseverance and the right mindset, it’s possible to achieve — no matter your background. With plenty of drive, determination, and organization, Davenport has launched a multifaceted career in the arts, and she shows no signs of stopping.