As a creative, you get to pursue your passions and do what lights you up…but of course, you want to make a sustainable income too. For some creatives, the sky is the limit when it comes to income potential. If you’re ready to be inspired, this list of six millionaire artists is going to be just the spark that you need.
Whenever you lack motivation or feel discouraged by what’s happening in your creative business, seeing other people’s success helps! Seeing how successful other creatives have been serves as a reminder that anything is possible—and that your dreams are worth pursuing.
6 millionaire artists and creatives
From actresses to artists, there are actually a number of millionaire artists who have made tons of money while pursuing their dreams.
Although some people tend to stereotype those in creative careers as struggling to even make ends meet, it’s simply not the case. There are more opportunities than ever for you to make a living and enjoy doing what you’re great at creatively. And these six individuals serve as a reminder of that fact!
Do you remember the sweet, fierce character Rue in The Hunger Games? She was played by Amandla Stenberg, and now years later, she’s absolutely crushing the creative game. After her debut in The Hunger Games, she starred in a number of other films, like Everything, Everything, The Darkest Minds, and The Hate U Give—gaining global acclaim along the way.
But aside from being a star on the big screen and playing fierce characters, Amandla has also garnered lots of attention for her philosophies on life, activism efforts, and political views. She identifies as non-binary and uses “she/her” and “they/them” pronouns. Although her creative work has given her both money and fame, she uses her platform to advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, mental health, feminism, anti-cultural appropriation efforts.
Amandla should serve as inspiration to any creative who’s driven by a desire to make an impact, promote acceptance of our differences, and move society forward by provoking critical thinking. This is something that every creative can do, whether that’s through writing, art, or film.
Although many of us won’t appear in Hollywood films, we can all learn from how Amandla uses her wealth to promote change.
Shan Shan Fu
Shan Shan Fu, a Chinese-American immigrant, is a prime example of how we can adapt our creative talents to reflect society’s needs. She was raised by two incredibly hardworking parents. Her mother was an engineer and her father a doctor in China, but those degrees weren’t recognized in America, leading them to work at grocery stores to pay their bills.
That backstory led Shan to take on a second job along with her full-time consulting career. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, she recognized the need for face masks that were high quality and breathable. Once she saw that need, she worked overnight for seven months to build her company, Millennials in Motion, that would sell fashion and masks.
From there, she experienced tremendous income growth and was able to leave her 9-5 job to focus all of her energy on the startup. Shan overcame incredible obstacles and challenges as she grew her business and found such financial success during the pandemic.
We can all learn that the path towards being one of the millionaire artists isn’t straightforward. Shan Shan Fu had a multitude of paths towards wealth and eventually made the smart decision to hone in on the one that was most profitable and rewarding.
Patrick Henry is one of the best millionaire artists to look to, especially if you’re interested in fashion and design. Even if you don’t recognize his name, Patrick Henry has actually designed outfits for some of the biggest celebrity names.
He taught himself to sew starting at age 13…after a cheerleader at his school let him know that girls like athletes, bad boys, and boys who dress well. He knew he didn’t fit into the first two categories and decided to figure out how to dress the part.
Patrick should serve as an inspiration, particularly because over the last decade as he’s found incredible success, he also overcame extreme hardships. He dealt with tragedy, addiction, and homelessness.
But he stayed true to his values and passions and has since found success. He’s also adapted to changes in demand, creating masks during the pandemic and coming out on the other side still tied to his creative roots.
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder of Bumble (a popular and innovative dating app), but she’s always been drawn to creativity and entrepreneurship. Even more impressive, she’s a billionaire and the youngest woman to ever take a company public.
She launched her first business in college selling bamboo tote bags to raise money for victims of BP’s oil spill. Later, she worked at Tinder right at its start but left a few years later due to sexual harassment.
From there, she started her own dating app called Bumble where women have the power to make the first move. It was a revolutionary idea, and above all else on the app, Whitney prioritized protecting women from unsolicited explicit images, sexual harassment, and more—she even stepped into court to testify on these issues.
If you’re a creative and you end up working in a startup, make sure to ask about stock options. As far as millionaire artists and creatives go, Whitney represents how important stocks are—they account for the overwhelming majority of her wealth.
Ankiti Bose is the CEO of Zilingo, a company focused on boosting the digital capabilities of small businesses. Her success comes from a culmination of technology, finance, and production solutions….but more importantly, she focuses on making the fashion industry a more even playing field.
By actively promoting internal female leadership, she leads by example and hopes to foster an industry-wide change. Women deserve to be in leadership roles, and if you’re a creative hoping to make a fortune, Ankiti is a wonderful example to look toward.
She runs her company on the philosophy that every good business endeavor needs inspiration as much as implementation. Likewise, she prioritizes problem-solving through creativity and open communication.
Michelle Phan is one of those millionaire artists who, for many, is a household name. She started her incredible career journey (and remember, she’s entirely self-made!) at just 15 years old.
Originally, she created make-up tutorials on YouTube. Now, her channel has shifted from that of a teenager to that of a businesswoman—and she’s got 8.91 million subscribers and counting to show just that.
Beyond her online endeavors, Michelle has a business empire that’s multifaceted and lucrative. She has her hands full with her:
- YouTube channel
- Social media channels
- YouTube lifestyle network FAWN (For All Woman’s Network)
- Cosmetics line with L’Oreal
- Ipsy’s beauty sampling service (Michelle is the founder!)
- Platform Shift Music Group, which lets artists promote and share their music
One thing that’s so inspiring about Michelle is that she grew based on creativity…not based on a desire to be a millionaire. She didn’t have a plan or an exact route to success, but she found it in strides nonetheless.
These millionaire artists and creatives should serve as an inspiration for anyone looking to build their wealth while pursuing their passions. It’s totally possible with hard work, determination, and of course, a little luck.
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