The Romantic Myth of the Starving Artist.
Artists more than any other group of professionals are resourceful. They make the most of their living spaces and eat amazingly well on their often limited budgets. Surely the artist’s studio is a place of magic. This magic place is also the work space of putting one foot in front of the other, a place of not just imagination, but of labor. I remember going to Milton Wilson’s unheated live/work space and eating baked potatoes with salsa for lunch. As always, Milton arranged the table beautifully with great style and provided lively conversation. Yes, it was the “Romantic artist’s studio”, but at what price to the artist does this come? Most professional artists do not make enough money. They have the constant worry of not having enough money for rent, not having health insurance, delaying visits to the dentist, lack of materials with which to make their art, and so on.
Professional artists are just that. Their profession their livelihood is making art. Artists need to be paid for their time. When you buy a piece of art the price helps cover the artist’s expenses. These costs are often higher than the general public may realize: a tube of oil paint can be $30, a paint brush upwards of $50, a single sheet of paper is $10, professional photography of artwork is around $500, and studio rent ranges from $300-$1,500/mo. Then there are the hidden costs, the cost of education, making sure there is a flexible schedule that allows for meeting with collectors, curators, or even other artists. The largest hidden cost is time. Art takes a lot of time, to process and create. Artists need an abundance of time to contemplate and complete if they are to produce meaningful work.