13 Nov

Saying it out loud

The pucker quilt is boring and depressing now. I hate working on it because all the puckers just remind me of what a horrible quilter I am and how the quilt is now worthless (I know these things aren’t true, but this is what the quilt is telling me). I have redone so much of it and it’s just a practice quilt, so it’s not at all worth the time and effort I’ve invested in it. But still, I’d like to finish it so it can be donated and do some little bit of good in the world. Yet, it’s going slowly and is a black cloud over my head.

So I’m avoiding it by doing other boring things. I cleaned my desk, balanced the checkbook, paid some bills, and added some recent items to my “art business” accounting spreadsheet. I know it’s bad form to actually talk money and stuff, but this years’ numbers (and presumably most of my years’ numbers if I had bothered to pay as close attention as this year, and a good portion of everyone else’s numbers I’m guessing) are pretty sad. To date I have spent $3017 on art-related things. That’s mannequins for my show, new business cards, drawing pads and pencils, parking at venues, thread, batting, paying someone else to quilt Zeitgeist, mailing to shows, contest entry costs, etc. Granted, this year is probably a bit spendier than previous because of the quilting for hire and the gallery show investment, but if I’m going to continue showing my work in gallery settings, I know I can expect similar continued costs. On the other hand, I’ve sold some work, some catalogs, and won a prize at a local show, so that should balance things out a bit, right? Nope. I’ve made $338 this year. Yup. All that support the arts, buy handmade, value your work, art is necessary for society, you should do this for exposure, the exposure will lead to something, stuff is a lot of crap. We all know this. These numbers are no surprise. I’m lucky to have a spouse that supports our family so these numbers don’t matter to my day to day survival like they do for so many other artists. I’m just putting the numbers out there to make them more real. Because some days you just have to say it out loud.

8 thoughts on “Saying it out loud

  1. Good for you for saying it out loud. I think more people need the courage to do that. I’m a freelance writer and I don’t make much money either.And I know I don’t even break even in my quiltmaking because I give away lots of stuff.

  2. Unfortunately, we consumers have been conditioned by the likes of Walmart to look for the lowest price, but we need to reserve a compartment in our brains that allows us to pay the real people who do real work to create art (or do skilled labor for that matter) a fair price. Sorry you are frustrated.

  3. I am constantly struggling with the “so what” question. Why pursue the art? What good am I doing? Why can’t I be more practical? Who cares? Why can’t I be better at it? I think if you asked any artist if they have doubts about the journey they would fess up to the same. I comfort myself with the thought that I am not alone in the struggle. Making money at it can not be the goal. Frankly, I can’t figure out what I would do without it. My answer to the inner turmoil question is: What else?

    • That so what question is such a good one, and such a hard one. Obviously, we’re not in this for the money, but just because we’re compelled to make art, does that mean we shouldn’t be valued? And what is appropriate valuation? Maybe it’s not money, but then, what is it? Society needs art, but doesn’t always seem to appreciate it’s artists. Of course, because studio art rarely sustains the artist, we also do other things like teach, or design, or organize which contribute to society in more obvious ways as well as making a reasonable living.

  4. And that is the boat I’m floating at myself. What a realization for where we are at. Truly, where is this going for me? I think I’m in a sinking boat. Thanks for posting this, it needs to be said.

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