I do not consider myself to be in major debt. But I know there are many things I really need done that would put me in at least a 5-7 year debt. The last time I was in debt was after I graduated college and had to pay back my loans. My parents helped some, but it took 5 years to pay it off. It was not near the amount paid out today, but it was still stressful. The experience lead me to read books about handling finances and taught me a lot about managing money for personal use, loans and credit card. I still hesitate to go back to school. I am not sure I want to deal with that kind of stress all over again. Tuition has gone up three times since 1986. And interest rates are not low enough. I really feel bad for the kids in college today. I still have hope that things will change.
Reality: Laid off from a full-time job. Ironically, it was the gallery business of selling art, so that already tells you something about the art world and the need for more support. Economics: Getting by. I always had a part-time job as a food server at a restaurant, so I have been working extra shifts. But soon I must consider whether I should go back to college and pursue something different and incur new debt, but maybe I'd find a better earning salary and position. No guarantees, except a debt to pay. Or just keep working in the way I can and save, save and save. I would have more time to create art this way and maybe sell a little more of it. It's a gamble either way.
I think debt affects my art practice in that I am going to be even more conservative about buying materials or paint to experiment with. I have always been a recycler, so this is actually a benefit when it comes to conserving. I think the stress of being in debt from school or credit card can affect the artist's creative time in the studio because you are working more to pay it off. I never could afford a studio at an artists' compound and certainly cannot afford to expand the space in a small room at home I operate out of. I just make do with what I have. I cannot afford to have many membershps in art-related organizations, much less afford to submit artwork for juried shows where fees are involved. An artist with debt, especially if you are from a single-income, has to be very choosy when it comes to art opportunities to exhibit work with a fee.