Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Economic Incentive to Create

I know that I will be opening an artistic-philosophical can of worms by saying this, but I want my Art work to <shhhhhh!! - don't say this out loud!!> pay my bills. It is that simple. I will not be debating the difference between 'making-art-for-arts-sake' versus 'making-art-for-money', because really, that is a decision for the artist as he or she decides what their work means for them. I will only be stating my personal philosophy and goals here as they relate to Surviving Through Art.

Let's face it, no matter how long your life is, in the big picture it is short. While the majority of us spend our lives in the 'workforce' doing 'traditional jobs', earning a 'paycheck' so we can pay our bills, there is another sliver of the population that believe that creating art in this same vein is no less legitimate a venture, than pouring concrete, bagging groceries, repairing automobiles, or performing brain surgery. Yet, oddly enough 'artists' and the pursuit of 'art-as-a-job' is quite possibly the most scoffed at pursuit in the eyes of most people who toil away at their 40 hour a week 'traditional-jobs.

Another fact to contemplate with regard to the often diametrically opposed worlds of 'traditional' and 'non-traditional' fields of employment is that research shows that, from the top to the bottom of the wage earning scales, nearly 85% of Americans actively HATE their jobs, yet they continue to do them, day in and day out because of the security of a paycheck and other benefits offered by their employers.

The more I read this information, the sadder I felt that we live in a society where people actively allow themselves to be in these situations - particularly when they don't WANT to be there. Now, I am not naive enough to think that all people should abandon their jobs and that all people should pick up brushes, paint and canvas and become artists, but now I address those that, who know in their heart that they SHOULD be and NEED to be making art (and for this instance I will include ALL arts: Visual, Theatre, Dance and Music) that they should seriously examine how they can make it happen.

My situation - being pushed into unemployment due to medical issues - has oddly enough given me the chance to re-examine what I am doing with my life, and I have come to the conclusion that I want to make my economic living creating, promoting and selling my art. In the past couple of years I have dealt with not only unemployment due to health issues, but faced two long periods of unemployment based on the shriveled nature of our economy. During this time I have gone through the wringer of job-hunting and have discovered that my best chances for successful re-employment in the 'traditional-world-of-work' would be in sales. Yet, the more I tried to put my heart into it, the more I realized that if I was going to sell a product or service as a job, that I would FIRST be earning money for someone else before getting my own share of the pie, and this just made me mad.

So, I have decided that if I am going to SELL anything, to anyone and really be able to put my best effort into it, I wanted to do something that meant something to ME. Afterall, in event the best case scenario, I will have maybe another 20 years or so before hitting that golden age of 67 when retirement supposedly opens up the floodgates of  happiness and economic freedom to be enjoyed before you die.

Like so many of us who reach the 40-somethings, in our lives and, in many cases, are nearing that 20-25 year career mark when we begin planning for those golden years. What I have observed is far too many people get the gold-watch treatment only to find them selves staring dumbly at it and saying, "Now what the hell am I supposed to do?" Suddenly they discover that leaving behind that job which filled 40 hours of your week creates a gaping wound in your psyche that no number of trips to the Bahamas or days on a Florida golf course can fill. Sadly, and too often, retirees don't live long enough to enjoy the 'fruits-of-their-years-of-labor' and die sooner than necessary.

To counteract that, I have rediscovered that my love of creating art is more fulfilling than many of my past jobs, and is something that I can actively pursue long into the future - and here is the kicker - if I use my remaining 20 or so years in this pursuit, I am learning that I can make enough money to live on AND  <don't say this too loudly, or people with think you are crazy> ENJOY what I do each day. I will have <shhhhhh!> CONTROL of my own destiny. I will be able to <quiet now> work WHEN, WHERE and as HARD as I want. I will be able to <hush, someone will hear> make a living, pay my bills and maybe even get a head of the economic 8-ball based on <here is the crazy part> my OWN effort, not the whims of the economy, or be at the mercy of bad business decisions from above that cause mass job elimination.

If this philosophy is not weird enough, I plan on <someone will hear me now I am sure> ENJOYING what I do. Again, this is not to say in any way that I am the next Picasso, Pollock, or Warhol, making millions every time my brush hits the canvas, but that I do believe I have the artistic skills, and am learning the marketing ones needed, to make a 'respectable-bill-paying-food-eating' living creating art.

Do I think this will be EASY? Hell, no. Is working 9-5 building Jeeps, or Noon-to-Midnight nursing patients back to health easy? No. Will my work result in some of the same frustrations as my fellow traditionalists face? Sure. But, I believe that the fact that I am doing what I enjoy will allow me to cope much easier, knowing that I am in more control over my economic future because I am invested in it's success, and not susceptible to the whims, errors, or cost-cutting measures that I watch my friends face every day - most of which they have no control over.

I am done worrying about the call to the office sit-down with the boss that begins with, "Sorry, but we have to let you go..." I have been there and done that, far too many times.

Succeed or fail, happy or sad, I know there are no guarantees from the path I am on now, but I do feel that I am holding the reins of my future and not being led by a painful bit and a whip controlling my desitiny.

With that, I will close and head out to my studio, to create, contemplate, promote and sell. My efforts and their associated rewards are up to me now. 


  1. Are you thinking of an on-line store like Etsy to post your artwork, where it can be viewed in a "gallery-like" setting, sell worldwide, and get paid into your Paypal account? Let us (the world) know where we can view the art when you are ready. Hope this helps. Jim from Boston

    1. Currently most of my work is found at, or at
      let me know if you see anything you'd like..