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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on November 1, 2002 at 04:36:57:

In reply to: Artists in slow economies posted by Lauren on November 1, 2002 at 01:17:42:

: What changes do you make, you who have
: been through this before?

You have to square your shoulders and be willing to do ANYTHING
necessary to pay the bills.

I've worked all my life as a self-employed artist and hard economic
times have been HARSH. When I started my first pregnancy, I was
selling to 40 of the top galleries in the country. I thought nothing
could go wrong. By the time I gave birth to my second child, 2 1/2
years later, 38 of those 40 galleries had gone out of business. My
work was better and more efficient than ever ... the disaster had
nothing to do with me, my ability, talent or intelligence. It was
simply a disaster, indifferent to me and my children. The disaster
didn't care if we were hungry or not. It was simply a cluster of
numbers, and that was that. That was a tough one to swallow. I blamed
myself, needlessly.

I always survived by being willing to do anything whatsoever that paid
the bills. My great grandmother, grandmother, mother, me, and my
daughter have all done that. If it pays ... do it. In hard times, do
the despicable things that no one with pretensions of self-respect is
willing to do ... and do them with perfect integrity, skill, artistry,
beauty, intelligence and compassion. You'll get by. You'll survive
.. till times are better.

Look for whatever you can find. No job is beneath you, (but don't
accept getting screwed).

Learn to survive like a "zen rat", paring your living expenses to

Never, ever, never accumulate even one dollar of credit card debt.
Hard times WILL come, and if you are in debt you are SCREWED.

Very few people can make it as artists. I did. I seriously damaged
my health doing so. I worked nonstop and nearly lost a pregnancy
(Gwyn), and permanently harmed myself from overwork and no money for
health care. You can push to the limit .... but don't endanger
yourself or those who depend on you. Your body and your relationships
can't be repaired with better times if you ruin them. Money can be
gotten other ways. You can always return to art later. You can't get
new body parts if you wreck them from overwork.

Dreams are lovely, but they're a luxury. They're a particularly
American luxury! Hope can be a drug that prevents you from seeing
things as they are, and hope will seduce you into making inappropriate
decisions. Balance the checkbook, balance the books, look at the
numbers. If you can't make it ... do something else and then come
back to art in better times.


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