Monday, November 17, 2008

Art Blog: Money, Money, Money


This is a table in my bedroom. It was once part of an installation called “Emergency Room”. The idea behind the installation was the lack of health care for those without health insurance or money. This included me during the time I made this installation. I will talk more about this table later. It relates to this post.
Money. Money. Money.

Yesterday, I had a revelation. I got an email from Self Taught Artist (A super, fantastic artist, I might add!). Among other things the topic of money came up. She said something that caused me to stop and think. In fact, she said a number of things which made me think a lot!

Many artists are hurting right now. People in general do not buy art in times of economic stress. It is a whole lot of work selling your art in good times. It is common for artists to have supporters who give compliments or wish you well, but there is no interest in buying. There is the “I have no money” syndrome. Actually, this is not always a true reason. In reality, there is the “I have money, but I don’t want to use it to buy your art” phenomenon. This can effect an artist’s self worth if they associate bucks with their creative output. If there are no sales, there is no worth. This association can be deadly.

I haven’t felt the economic downturn in relationship to my art because I made the decision to take art sales out of my economic equation. Let me explain. I have sold a lot of art in my life. In fact, there was a time, I sold art pretty regularly. However, I didn’t make enough money to live any kind of grand life. I got by and supplemented my earnings by teaching art workshops and classes at art centers. It was all good as long as I wasn’t too proud to pick up aluminum cans to buy an occasional dinner or go without heat or stand in line for hours at the free health care clinic. Oh, yeah. It was a grand life.

When I moved to Florida, I went two years working for minimum wage while making lots more art. I was still living hand to mouth and would actually search out men to take me and my daughter out to dinner. (Yes. Blonds do that!! LOL, So what does that say about me? Hmmm….Shut up!!! LOL LOL) Oh that was a very ducky time too. When I finally got offered to sign on the dotted line to get a full time teaching gig, I hesitated, but finally worked the pen. I was just tired of being so poor.

There are people who buy art. Thank GOD for that. You have to find them. Unfortunately, they are too few and far between to support all the artists there are to support. Remember supply and demand? Also, there is the issue of what kind of art you do. I know for damn sure, I could sell a whole lot more art if I did Florida landscapes or sweeping sunsets. People get that. I just don’t have it in me. My bad!

OK, back to the table. That table has a drawer. When I had the installation up in the gallery, the drawer was left in the open position to show some money glued onto the bottom of the drawer. Do you know there have been two times in my life I was so poor I have actually tried to pry that five dollars out of the drawer. Oh, that is sick, but true. I needed money so bad, I took a file, tweezers, and tried to unglue those bucks. I didn’t succeed either time. This brings me to my point.

THE REVELATION:
Simultaneous to writing this blog post, I was in contact with a book entrepreneur who was hawking his book about art marketing. I found this to be so ironic. It was one of those books. If you do this, this, and then this, you will be an affluent artist. Yeah, whatever, Shut up. I will get to that in tomorrow’s post.

The “A-Ha!” moment I had in the last 24 hours was all this hoopla about my new life and jobs is really all about money and SECURITY. Even though I don’t want to face the fact I am bound by economic concerns, I am. BIG TIME. I am so full of fear right now. Currently, I have a paycheck. It comes ever two weeks. Since I have lived such a sparse life, I am frugal. Right now, I can buy as much art supplies as I want. I can get sick. I even have a little retirement fund. Yet there is this little part of me that wants the freedom to make my art. I have nobody but me to fall back on so it is all about ME. I am not sure I want to pay the price. Just like potential customers of art, I am backed into a corner. I want it (In my case, freedom to be an artist.), but I don’t want to recognize the cost (Existing on a lower standard of living).
In other words just like the potential customer, I like the idea but I don't want to pay for it??????????????????????????????
Hmmmmmmmmmmm

4 comments:

self taught artist said...

thanks for the compliment sheree, really!!!
good post, strong stuff. I learned alot from our exchange as well and will write a post too.
your table story make me laugh, I would have done the same thing, what a vision.
as to your revelation, that sounds big and I wonder where it will take you now!
ps
can't wait to read about your affluent artist post. we are on the same wave length, I swear, I keep hearing people say this one artist book was AMAZING and i'm so sick of those 'books' YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

you are wise and have much to share with your history, keep doing it :)

Sheree Rensel said...

Paula,
You deserve many compliments. Your art is spot on. You have so much going for you girl!

I too wonder about what is going to happen to me. I have absolutely no idea. I know for sure I have done the leg work and the thinking. I have ideas what I want, but I can't figure out how to make it all feasible (without having to pick up cans again.) I just don't know what is going to come out of it all. I guess we both will see.

Yeah, tomorrow I am going to write about THOSE BOOKS. You know the ones. HA!

For some reason the phrase "Come live in my shoes." comes to my mind. You know what I mean!
:-)

LOL LOL

JafaBrit's Art said...

It is a constant conundrum. I couldn't support my doggie, let alone me. Like you I know if I made bread and butter art, did commissions maybe, but I can't do it (more power to those who can).

I have several friends who work to support their art and then devote evenings and weekends pursuing their obsession,their passion, their art.

me I don't mind scraping up aluminium cans to paint :) As for the books, and marketing advice, I don't have the money for them. Not sure they could tell what I don't know already and have achieved in many respects (regarding publicity, marketing tricks etc). I discovered I am not willing to sell my art soul for a buck. What a bloody conundrum eh!

self taught artist said...

I dont buy those books either (library or forget about it and i only get them when i'm desperate and they just piss me off)
I dont mind scraping either, but i haven't done it nearly as long as sheree, poverty sucks but not making art, for now, feels worse believe it or not!