Discussion in 'Arts & Crafts' started by gxnelson, Jun 7, 2012.
Found this on tumblr.
11. Get a real job
Now does this mean real artists who make and sell art and make their living by their labors, or are they addressing this to artist, too?
Artists, too are those people who claim to be artists but who do not make a living selling their art, generally because (they like tell themselves) because the world does not yet recognize their genius.
Oft times their incomes come in the form of trust funds.
Well, I do art as a hobby and feel like most of these apply, maybe all but one.
In my career, I was approached by representatives of a senior care facility and a science discovery center to show my quilts for a season as part of their programs for their recipients. I was promised free advertising and a prompt return of my work on about 6 different quilts, 3 of which were complete, 3 of which had a bazillion hours of handwork created to sell paper pieces in packages to consumers. The borrowers of both institutions never returned so much as one stitch of my work. They broke their word and expropriated my quilts. I did not see so much as one customer in my store who commented on work for the senior home, and only one person from the science discovery center showing the mathematics/geometry of quilting.
That rather nullified my future generosity to alleged low-budget charitable groups who have a lot of enthusiasm about your work in order to cheat you on the other end when it's time to return the work. Someone simply puts in a stack when they're done with it, and someone else helps themselves, and nobody knows anything in the next year when you call and request your work back, so you can show it or sell it.
If I ever do such a thing again, They will postdate me a check for $3,000 for my bazillion hours of hard work for the day they promised they would return it. My quilts start out on an engineering graph paper that costs a small fortune for a 3' square tablet, and they are so different from other people's quilts, someone who saw my quilts would always know who the designer was.
Editec, I supported costs of my own materials by running my own store for 25 years in a remote town. Such a business, to make ends meet, requires a population of 250,000 to support one shop. When I started, our entire state had a population of 450,000, and 10 shops. In 5 years, 20 shops came and went in the state, each closure leaving a ton of fabric to sell for nothing a yard, while we weathered countless going-out-of-business sales of people nonplussed by a lack of business and people buying cheap stuff at the most recent closure. The reason I stayed in business was because I composed 250 new designs that were part of at least 11 manuscripts used in teaching classes to people wanting to make one of my award-winning quilts or learn traditional quilts. I hosted free classes with the voluntary request of a couple of dollars for printing the patterns I designed and some for-pay classes accompanying my applique books that had 3 times the number of patterns in them as other commercial ventures, limited by publishers. We self-published, except for 1 time when I got snookered into letting someone else do the work, which resulted in a $30 book for my Southwestern quilt original design book. I was miserable until those 50 or 60 copies got sold for charging such a huge fee for a makeshift-notebook style photocopied book that accompanied and supported student lessons. After that, we did that task by ourselves and lowered the cost of the book by 30%.
The day-to-day stuff is now run by 2 loyal helpers whose only commission is to make enough money to pay their own salaries and use the business to serve the small community business district by staying in business. Our business had a number of people targeting the downtown area for shopping, and they visited other stores when they visited our stores. It seemed a win-win for the community that let me show finished quilts at the local city hall. The only ones that ever sold there, the money was turned over to the policemen's Victim Compensation Fund, and several years, we gave squad car quilts to the police to distribute as they saw fit or use them as victim-wraps in car accidents where the victims had gone into shock. I figured cops saw the worse-case scenario of children living in depraved conditions when their parents moved there, then didn't have blankets for our often -40F January days and nights. Our cops and firemen were the best in the nation, imho. I saw them working out to stay fit in the gym I played basketball in for 15 years. They really pumped that iron and ran a lot of laps to enable them to wear the heavy gear that firemen and police have to carry.
Anyway, we scraped by paying our bills all but 2 years when we were hit by an employee who embezzled everything that wasn't nailed down including cash receipts she failed to write down 100% of the time when nobody was watching. It took 2 years to find the root of the problem. After the con artist was apprehended, a neighboring business owner said they identified her thefts of the same type by observation of his elderly mother seeing her pocket cash and hand the customer a 10-key adder tape instead of a bonafide store receipt. She shiested them for 5 years. They went from having 20 employees to 7 on her stay. I went from 4 to just her and me, not knowing of her history. In our state, it was against the law for former employers to tell of thefts. The only information you were allowed to give was first and last days of employment and absolutely nothing else, or you could get your butt sued off, which means in addition to your $20,000 per year loss of cash and merchandise, you'd have to pay whatever his or her attorney won in court prize money or out-of-court settlements. That law certainly made it conducive for a con artist to rip trusting people off, and she had the coldest heart of any human being I'd ever met, with me working 80 hour weeks to try to make up for whatever was causing merchandise to run out the door, not being able to pay the store bills, and her taking advantage of my being upstairs taking in quilting to make the business go to steal even more cash and prizes for herself. In the meantime, she wore clothes, shoes and perfumes of the very best kind and bought two new cars. The business had to borrow over $40,000 from the bank in those 2 years, and after she left, it took me 5 years to pay all that money with interest back to the bank.
In 23 years, I broke even, no salary whatever. After I retired, the business has lost around $6,000 per year or more, with no me beating myself up with 80+ hour workweeks. By then, I had contracted a terrible autoimmune disease called fibromyalgia that precluded me from working in the 9 cold months of the year up there.
I suffered to be an artist for 23 difficult, near thankless, hard years. This year I am treating myself to making 100 quilt tops for the local shelter. I brought enough fabrics with me and projects where I just had parts of quilts finished to show in the window that helped with fabric sales and spurred other quilt artists to do their own thing. I did 10 or more windows full of new hand-made quilted items for 23 years. I had a couple of tons of leftovers and quilt starts to do charity quilting when I retired, and I'm not able to quilt them, so I give them to a local quilt group who can and do quilt them for charities. I work just as hard on them as I did for my own children, because I think the poor should have what people who can provide for their family's children have, and made with unused materials, too, and as much skill as I can still muster in my hands that stay quite busy lately.
If you're going to do for a charity that demands you to, you need a written contract signed by their CEO and your attorney. Just sayin.
Here's a pic of my show, Jewels of the Platte.
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