How not to end as Van Gogh?

Why I am not a millionaire yet?

These days, YouTube seems to be overwhelmed with successful creators presenting their ideas, setting an example for others, and providing value to the public. In return, according to the law of karma, their platforms are monetized, their books are bought, and they receive hundreds of thousands of likes and tones of grateful comments and active engagement. Is all that is said above is about you? Well…

It may seem ridiculous, but the myriad of talented, value-bearing people, experts of their fields of interests, these days are unrecognized either by the general public or financially. Uncountable number of people all over the world spend most of their time every day creating video contents, writing articles, maintaining their websites, painting, writing books, preparing free brochures, creating video courses, or photographing food from all angles, hovering over it with a camera like an eagle in the sky at the sight of prey. What for?

On the Amazon platform alone, thousands of writers strive for success year-round and non-stop! Of course, it depends on the content and gained skills, but releasing the book can take months to years! There are over 6 million Amazon Kindle books, which means 7,500 new Kindle books are published per day!

In fact, most authors aren’t making much money and most books sell very few copies (1). This is my case too, well, if not talking about the same, or even inferior level with my website and paintings:)

Most YouTube videos got fewer than 50 views, only 2% got 1,000 views or more, and 0.3% of the videos got at least 500,000 views. This means, your odds of becoming famous via YouTube are vanishingly small (2).

Despite the huge frustration of content creators hanging in the air around the world, it should be remembered that nowadays man wants everything here and now. Meanwhile, big jobs require a lot of time, constant practice, and enthusiasm, even if you already feel like you’ve done enough.

Somewhere I have read that a person becomes an expert in his work after seven years of continuous practice and improvement in the field of interest. And when a person becomes an expert, he is already free to earn a million. If not yet earned, means not yet an expert. Are you an expert of your field? Are you ready for a million?

Example from the past – Van Gogh

Enclosed Wheat Field with Rising Sun, May 1889, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands*

While alive, Van Gogh did not make as much financial profit as is now made from his work. The verges between the painter’s agony of poverty and current enrichment from his paintings are so large that it does not fit in the mind.

This might seem ridiculous, but desperate depression and poverty of the artist make profit for art dealers’ centuries later. Perhaps in the name of the painter I have not bought any reproductions of his works. This money does not help Van Gogh in the 21st century, just like his nowadays recognition. Life held him in the psychological and financial agony he had to go through.

Was the painter really innovative outside of his time and therefore not recognized in time, or were there other reasons?

Basic elements for success

Let’s look at some basic elements which form a person as a human and as an artist: art education and food.

In this article, let us not touch more deeply on the psychological aspect and the financial situation of the painters we choose later to compare briefly. Let’s suggest that overall psychological state of a person is a consequence of his nutrition and relationship with people in general, and in case of an artist being a man – with a woman, or women, a muse, or muses. I wrote a separate article about the role of a woman as a muse in an artist’s carrier. Let’s just face that the financial status in the XIX century played a huge role in a man’s chance to get married, far greater than these days, but we will not discuss it here.

Time intervals during which some of the artists became famous

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Garden at Sainte-Adresse (“Jardin à Sainte-Adresse”), 1867, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York**

In 1859, Monet decided to move to Paris to pursue his art. Monet gained financial and critical success during the late 1880s and 1890s, and started the serial paintings for which he would become well-known (3).

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Au Lapin Agile (At the Lapin Agile) (Arlequin tenant un verre), 1905, oil on canvas, 99.1 × 100.3 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York***

In 1895, when Picasso was 14 years old, his family moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he quickly applied to the city’s prestigious School of Fine Arts. In 1905, his work came to the attention of Gertrude Stein, a major American art collector, who purchased many pieces. This was the first significant breakthrough (4, 5).

Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972)

Hand with reflecting sphere: M. C. Escher’s Self-portrait in Spherical Mirror Lithograph Jigsaw Puzzle.

From 1919 Escher studied at the School for Architecture and Decorative Arts in Haarlem, Netherlands. Escher’s mature style emerged after 1937 in a series of prints that combined meticulous realism with enigmatic optical illusions (6).

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh registered at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in 1880, where he studied anatomy and the standard rules of modelling and perspective.

Albert Aurier, a French poet, praised his work in the gazette Mercure de France in January 1890 and described him as “a genius”. Also in 1880, Van Gogh was invited by Les XX, a society of avant-garde painters in Brussels, to participate in their annual exhibition. Later, the same year, Van Gogh was included in the sixth exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in the Pavillon de la Ville de Paris on the Champs-Elysées (7).

Food preferences and lifestyle

Claude Monet

Aromatic Mediterranean herbs and vegetables, including rosemary, mint, tomatoes and asparagus. Périgord truffles and foie gras from Alsace. Lobster, fish and duck. Garlicky ceps. “A typical meal for Monet would have included a wonderful main course with fresh vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, or red cabbage. Cider (8, 9).

Pablo Picasso

Fish, vegetables, grapes, and rice pudding. Mineral water or milk (10).

Maurits Cornelis

Nothing known

Vincent Van Gogh

Bread, coffee and tobacco were Van Gog’s staple diet. In February 1886, he wrote to Theo, his brother, that he could only remember eating six hot meals since the previous May (7).

Van Gogh indulged to an abnormal degree in various activities which undermined his health, such as constant smoking, drinking alcohol (including absinthe) and coffee to excess, and eating very poorly, even fasting at times (11).


It took 20 years for Claude Monet, 10 years for Pablo Picasso, and 18 years for Maurits Esher to receive first signs of recognition. It took a very similar time for Van Gogh to receive his first signs of recognition – 10 years.

Claude Monet lived for 86 years, Pablo Picasso for 92 years and Maurits Esher for 74 years. Van Gogh committed a suicide at the age of 37, thus terminating any opportunity to extend his career at the very early age.

Perhaps not everyone knows that Monet attempted suicide by trying to drown himself in the Seine River at the age of 28 (due to financial hardship when his father was unwilling to help the painter’s young family), but fortunately, he survived (3).

The natural consequence of Van Gogh’s lifestyle was malnutrition, which, surely, affected his psychological condition for years and led to the inevitable end.

Some thoughts afterwards

Vincent Van Gogh vainly tried to achieve recognition before time, looking at his already successful colleagues. He had no money, but all the money he had, he spent on paints and self-destructive habits. Self-destruction won.

We look at the world around us and it seems to us that it all just happened and we want the same. And in the 21st century, we look at the world through a mobile phone screen, with cosmic speed absorbing tons of information, the brain may just rupture from other people’s successful stories.

If you have ever closely watched running matches or had to attend yourself, you know: at the moment you start looking at the sides, even turning your head to the side for a second – you lose the advantage, you lose speed and coordination, and you end up not winning.

In real life it would be hard not to look at others if you participate in a match, isn‘t it? Reject the idea to compete in mind and everything will change to better. Let other people provide you an inspiration as colleagues and teachers, rather than perceiving them as the competitors.

If your work worth it – the recognition will come. It will come sooner or later, but definitely not as fast as images are changing on your phone screen. The main thing to recognize is that taking good care of your physical and mental bodies is crucial if you want to stay until the days when success will come.

Taking good care of your physical and mental bodies is crucial if you want to stay until the days when success will come

Some ideas

It will probably be true that when we start our hobby in a new format (youtube channel, website, online courses) we are enthusiastic about the idea of ​​self-realization and no difficulties even care, they are ignored, we are excited about the fact that we create and nothing else matters. However, if you don’t feed your hobby properly, it will start to disappoint over time. In order to maintain hobby and self-realization at high level and let it grow, it is important to feed it from the very beginning.

  • Try 4/2 schedule, where during four days in a week you make money and two days you dedicate exclusively to your creative hobby. In this way the emergency for money “to survive” would not overwhelm you, but the hobby will continue to grow and you will gain skills you wish.
  • Join online webinars of the platform which is essential for the growth of your creative product. For example, if I am interesting in successeful book publishing on Amazon, it would be a great idea to join free webinars by Goodreads. Haha! The day I will learn how to write the word success correctly – the Success will come! Your website platform probably also provides online courses, makes videos and free webinars for you, start there and grow!
  • Read the articles of successful stories where practical pieces of advice are given. I found one, written by Joseph Hogue (12), which may work for me.
  • After you read and learn, do at least 1/10 of what you have read and learned, just anything. Forget the feeling that there are too much information which you will never digest, just leave that feeling alone.
  • Find someone in your field of interest whose work really excites you and follow. You may write a comment and ask questions, watch and read their content, or take a paid course and learn, why not?
  • Ask a good friend to take a time and comment on your work which is already done and be ready for critics. In fact, choose someone who would probably criticize and seek for critics, insights and questions because only this way you will have chances to grow! I went through this too! It was a game changing day to actually see what I needed to see much earlier:)
  • Collaborate. We all have some money, but not yet ready to spend them on some additional services, which, by the way, are crucial in making next step. Collaborate! Offer your skills instead of other’s skills and get to the next level. Not everything may work precisely from the very first time, but practice and communication are important.

For example, a friend of mine ask me to pose her as for a photo session because she wants to gain practice with her new business hobby – photography. We agreed that some of the photos may become a visual material to advertise my cookbook. Wow! We will see how it will go further, but we already had a great time together! Happy life is about having a great time with people around, isn’t it?

  • Change the design or appearance of your creative product. If you have your blog or commercial website for years and you already feel a kind of frustration about having it – transform it to something new. It may be a new logo, a new page template, a new slogan, anything. Just renew what you have to blow in a new energy. All this things are possible to do by your own, without paying money to someone, but paid options also good. Just ask yourself twice and be sure you do not overpay in a rush to break the walls. This small renewal, a change is primarily important for YOU. You as a developer, as its creator need to be inspired first!
  • Offer your product instead of help. We must realize one thing – everybody is busy in their lives. That is why, even if you know your friend or fellow is good in design and you need “just a simple logo”, be sure to be grateful not only with words. Give your book instead, or access to your online paid webinar. Or maybe you clean the dishes while your wife is making a revision of your text? Time equal to time, when we value time of other people, people will value ours.
  • When the critics and renewal of the creative product are done – find someone who would really be admired by your work and accept, listen carefully to all the good things you will here.
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Continue with a smile. Remember there are no reason to hurry life, it’s finish line is the finish. Let‘s live in a present moment, let‘s create and cherish relations with people around:)

Finally, I would like to wish the Success to all who have read this article to an end:)

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

Henry David Thoreau





Painting references

*By Vincent van Gogh – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain,

**By Claude Monet – The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Public Domain,

***By Pablo Picasso – Metropolitan Museum of Art, PD-US,

4 thoughts on “How not to end as Van Gogh?

  1. Great article. Appreciate insights from artist lives.
    This should have a triggering effect…
    Please continue in writing such interesting stories that have a big part of analysis in it!



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