Sunday, August 2, 2009

Art and the Budget resolutions

I went to the Glebebooks 50% off sale last weekend. They have a great selection of art books and Art Mags, and I needed a fix. However (as is usually the case) the sale didn’t include these items. Despite promising myself (and even admonishing my partner) not to spend money unless it was a great deal…and that, just because we were going there didn’t men we had to buy something…we nevertheless “dropped” a total of $79 on books.

Whilst I am sure it was all good value (at least that is what I am telling myself) it brought about the angst of the need for budgeting if I am to continue in my art practice. So I did my accounts today –and discovered just how expensive it is to be an artist!

What became apparent was that any time I go into an art supplies store, it costs about $100, and that’s just buying what I need at the time.

Canvases are probably second only to food and rent for the operating costs of an artist. I finally ordered some more canvases last week. I have been using every canvas lying around my studio, and so starting the long line of failures due to too many size changes and consequent need to adjust (which was happening too slowly). That order cost another “Cool” $500 (I only bought 8), and Roger, my supplier makes them at a very reasonable price. I figure they cost me about $10 extra per item for him to source the materials, to stretch the canvas so much better than I can, and to deliver. Meanwhile, the theory is that I can be painting which, in normal times, would usually earn more money than that per hour, for the time I save not doing them myself. That’s not the case at the moment.

I also spent something like $350 in art prize entry fees, another $500 in delivery/pick up costs and an average of $7per envelope for express post delivery of the CD and entry form (you can track your entry by using one, it’s big enough for a CD, and still just drop it in the post box closest to you).

My studio also costs $528 per month. This is cheaper than the one I moved from in January of this year (by far) and pretty competitive from what I can gather. It has the space I need – and is already filling up fast (since my output is fairly prolific). Can I work from Home/? Not unless I am happy to drive everyone around me crazy with the mess and “distracted demeanour”.

So here’s the budget conscious possible resolutions for this financial year:

  1. Don't go into art mag or art book stores unless you have the will-power of a Greek God.
  2. Make sure you don’t go into an art supply store unless it’s necessary, and don’t “browse” the shelves.
  3. Make time to make a list of necessary art supplies, not only to restrict the spending but to make sure you don’t miss anything, and so, not have to return and be tempted again.
  4. Buy Stretcher bars in numbers that attract a discount, and stretch canvases yourself.
  5. Buy rolls of canvas rather than pieces and make sure they are pre –primed at least twice, and then prime them again yourself, just to be sure (that way you save on the cost of gesso).
  6. Restrict the number of entries into art prizes. I realised the amount of time and money spent on burning a disc; delivering to post box/office and sending by express mail; writing a cheques for entry fees; arranging and paying for delivery and pick up costs could well be spent on buying the work of a struggling artist friend, and so feeding him/her for a month!
  7. Apply for a Masters Program –free Studio Space!
  8. Anyone want to buy a painting???

What money saving measures have you been taking? Do you have any new suggestions? Post your comment here.

Image: Homage to the Rock God (the artist, seeking "the other' in her work, finds herself between a rocj and a hard place". 2009 oil on Canvas 152x 122cm


  1. Love this post! I can relate to every word you are saying. It is so expensive being an artist! I love your work, and am enjoying reading your blog. Jodie

  2. Thanks Jodie - Sorry for the delay..I've been away in an internet "black hole" keep commenting!



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