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Making Money as an Artist

Closing the Summer Market

I’m being cozy with myself. Curious, and gentle. Quiet, on this day without work or much for obligations.

I dropped my son off at school. (He was wearing a double-breasted coat, gray wool with a brilliant fuscia lining. It was a lost-and-found offering from a friend. I love that he loves it, and that I am able, in spite of all my acculturation, to let it be irrelevant that the coat was designed, tailored, and sold with a female market in mind, not a nearly 12-year-old boy).

I’m wearing a mismatch of clothes myself– only half-changed out of pajamas for the two mile drive into town and back. Clothes are a funny thing– so expressive and particular and important, and so absolutely not at the same time.

I made some tea– a pastel rainbow palette grown in Wisconsin that I’d forgotten I had. I drew, but digitally, and yet it still felt present and connected. I answered an email– and thought about the ways to say “no” that are both true and likely not to be interpreted as unkind by the recipient. I was asked to sing for a local event, and didn’t want to in the least! Not because it’s not a good cause, but just because I don’t want to.

I don’t want to do the work– and I don’t want it to be work. I made my income out of creative pursuits for almost twenty years, and I’m glad I did, and, when I’m not afraid I’ll be punished by some petulant diety for it, I don’t want to anymore– or, rather, I don’t want to right now.

I want to prod, as with a stick in dirt, not push as with a plow through a field.
I want to scatter seeds just by walking through the tall grass and the trees, not plan and plant straight rows of things to harvest, preserve, hawk.

That’s not to say being a “working artist” is only that: selling your wares. But it looks like that right now, and I don’t want to set up a stall in the village square and wait to see who wants what I’m selling.

I’m not actually resentful of the market. The resentment is wanting, despite how right I feel living my life a different way right now, to want to go to market. Because I haven’t reconciled that I wanted something before, and now I want something else.

Neither wanting is more right (or less right) than the other. Summer’s not more right than Winter– and I like both… and I’d choose Summer every time.

Isn’t it good that I don’t have a choice? That I don’t get to decide everything? That the way I want to live my life means I get to practice loving something as it is, something that I would not pick?

The next thing to learn is this: I’m not “making it through” Winter so that I can be better at Summer when Summer returns. I’m not “making it through” what Shopkeeper Rose might label as a dry spell, a period of contrariness, a time out, in order to have more exciting wares to bring to market when I re-emerge.

Because there is no such thing as “re-emerging.” There is no disappearing. There’s just a common way of noticing we’ve been told is the only way, and it is about crops and yeilds and profit margins and hours of daylight and wordcount and bank balances.

But if I don’t push, if I don’t resist, if I am Here… There’s the truth, and telling it or not. It’s the law that extends through everything, Summer and Winter alike.

Honesty and Trust, Patreon and Amanda Palmer

I think the idea of Patreon is fascinating: the freedom and space to make your art for free (for everyone), and the gift of your community providing for you.

Amanda Palmer inspires me.

She models a life of trust.

Trust is essential, the whole context in which art is created.

(I trust in the Source enough to write down this story, to step onstage, to paint the unseeable).

She takes it to a greater level of trusting as a way of LIFE– not just a way of ART.

And with Patreon there’s no ‘selling,’ no convincing anyone your art has value.

It’s all voluntary.

It’s all a gift.

This feels much more honest to me, how it already really is, this Abundance.