Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Cost Of Being an Artist

Excerpt from an arts forum, this question was asked:

What does it cost to be an artist?

I am blown away that anyone even tried to answer this. This question is akin to what does it cost to live, or how much does a car cost. If I drive a Honda Civic and you drive a Hummer H-2 how is the answer correlative?

This is a question that only you can answer. You add all the material cost, studio cost (if in your home divide the sq. footage of your home by the footprint sq. footage of you studio and include that portion of your utilities), the cost of your time (what could you do to earn instead) and the employment cost of these funds (what could have been earned by employing these funds else where) and then you have your answer.

Really though who amongst us creates for the money?

I would work at Mickey D’s flipping burgers hopefully working up to French fry manager in order to afford my supplies. I consider myself truly blessed and supremely lucky to find myself making a living as a painter!

Let me add this; it’s extremely hard work. Lest anyone think it’s easy, I work 60-80 hours a week. I love it but it’s not easy. I’m not complaining just pointing this out. I usually get up at 4:30 and that’s AM. I work then rarely don’t have a lunch to promote my work, then I come back and work some more, then I write and work the phones, always pushing, I go on gallery tours and I am constantly traveling all in the name of work. I go to openings of friend’s art; I work with arts foundations and civic groups. I write for arts sections and contribute time, my work and money to various causes all to keep myself in front of folks for the sake of my stuff. There’s always a fund raiser or auction or arts community meeting to occupy my evenings. Sometimes I don’t get home till well past midnight. And my God I love it! But it is hard work. This takes dedication and the thick skin and guts to take all the critic, frustration and rejection that go with it. Just this morning I got an email that states “you are a joke”, I have had mail saying “your work is a disgrace, so are you and I hope you die slowly and in immense pain”. Yet I happily accept that some or most people won’t like my work, and I continue to toil away. It is so easy to be crushed and just give up. I have other business interest; they make me money, which is the goal. I don’t need this for the money, I need it for life, and without it I would be empty! I would be a dead vessel, floating without anchor, without destination. Painting for me is as natural as breathing. I don’t do this for money, I don’t do it for creations sake, I don’t do it for a living, I do it for fulfillment and balance, and this is the meaning of my life.

I am sorry to be so melodramatic, but I am being honest. If I were to never sell another work I still would work. Really though isn’t this true of all of us?


JafaBrit's Art said...

I enjoyed your blog entry and how true. I don't paint or create for money but yes I want to earn something for it. Like you I spend a lot of time with community arts (running the arts council blog, their art gallery space etc), networking etc. It's work alright but I LOVE it.

wow, though I can't believe the nasty comments :) well I can but wow!

Ross Lynem said...

So glad to have found your blog Jerry. It was good to read your post about the cost of being an artist. Just now i am struggling with a shortage of sales and questioning what the heck i am doing here. Yikes! But as you say we would most likely still do it either way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. It has given me the incentive to work harder. To not give up on it all. Now i am off to the studio as i have an idea i'm dying to try out. Cheers!

Prachee Agrawal, One Stroke Certified Instructor said...

You Blog is truly amazing and answers many questions that any artist might have. I will like to follow you. My blog is pracheeagrawal.blogspot.com. I am new artist and working my way up with new paintings on my blog almost every week. Let me know how can i follow you.