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Personal Economy #5

My personal art economics have always included a full time job. I never really understood how to hustle for money in order to avoid the rat race. In addition, my practice takes up a lot of my mental energy and I value the consistency of steady pay. I don’t ever want to have to figure out how to make money to see my projects to fruition. In my previous experience working off the grid, I found that whenever I had a lot of free time I did not have a lot of resources and when I had ample resources the opposite were true.

That being said, going to work and sitting at the same desk day in day out is torture. My work has absolutely nothing to do with anything I am even remotely personally interested in and my appointment would not allow for me to entertain ideas such as multi-week/month residencies which could be instrumental in my personal artistic growth. In addition I end up working too much, working full time 8-4 M-F, then at the studio usually 3 hours M-F and full days on the weekend, I don’t have a lot of time for personal growth let alone seeking channels through which to gain exposure for the work I do, or handling the administrative side of my creative efforts.

I spend all this time doing something I don’t want to do so that I can do what I want to do on my own terms.

Outside of the economics of time/mental energy/ opportunity is the actual compensation received for making art. I trade my work on a regular basis. Recently, I’ve traded a painting for a Website, and two drawings for four massages (a gift for an overworked loved one). I also give my work away a lot. As any artist knows there is no shortage of organizations soliciting artwork for their cause. The assumption is that this is a trade for notoriety or support by said organizations down the road. Really, sometimes, this whole platform just feels like everyone wants art but no one wants to pay for it. Still, I give away several pieces a year.

In addition, I am going to more than break even on art this year which is great but it opens up a whole new arena of responsibility. I sold work for several album covers to a record label and as such am now mandated to pay taxes on this revenue. In addition I sold work to a private collector outside of the state who issued me a check that is too large not to claim on my income tax so I will have to reserve funds for this as well. Luckily, a little voice inside my head told me to start saving all receipts, but now I have to hire an accountant.

Another facet of compensation received for making art is the relationship between works sold and interest expressed by others to purchase work. If I actually sold work every time an interest was expressed by a potential buyer I would not need my day job. Often I make arrangements with a client to make payments on a piece of work rather than buying it outright. This often results in a series of humiliating exchanges where I have to contact them and ask them for money because they did not deliver to the specifics of our verbal agreement.

Many times potential clients will stop by my studio to view work several times. We will exchange multiple emails regarding the sale of particular pieces. They will attempt to haggle with me for the lowest possible price and then they will simply stop responding to my emails or phone calls. This too, is humiliating and kind of infuriating.

These last two bits are about the emotional economics of making art. On one hand a potential sale or recognition of any sort signals inside the brain this stream of thoughts that result in a renewed aspiration that one could actually subsist doing what they feel is their calling in life. Countless let downs create one of two emotional states in contrast to the prior. One, what’s the point? and two, F#@$ everyone, I do this because it is what gets me up in the morning and I don’t care if I exist in a cave until I die.


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