How did you get into debt?
All of this debt is for two years of federal student loans for graduate school for an art degree. I recently finished paying off around $17,000 in credit card debt that I gradually accumulated after grad school while balancing multiple jobs for employers who would frequently cancel my hours, and while starting a business with clients who would frequently cancel appointments. Precarious work is the norm for post-grad artists in my communities. I just remembered I also owe my best friend $6000, for a loan to do a post bac in 2005.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
I often work 6 days a week, sometimes 7, balancing multiple jobs in order to pay down the credit card debt that accumulates due to normatively precarious working conditions in art, higher ed, small business assistanceships and entrepreneurial pursuits. My art-making process is attenuated by these realities, drawn out, or only allowed and supported during intense bursts when I have shows (at which time I often take a week or two off work, unpaid, in order to accomplish a 15-hour/day production timeline). I've had some good opportunities, but the rhythm of my practice is inflected with manic money making while I fantasize about having time off as a reward - time off from making $$ in order to concentrate on a project or two. This is what grad school allowed for, and I don't regret going into debt for it. Still - I have more than enough interests, research areas, and ideas to support a full-time career as an artist, but given the unlikelihood of this ever occurring, it's important to me to integrate economic realities into my practice as meaningful constraints and, occasionally, directly as the content of my work.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
Since I directly address the debt economy and indebted subjectivity in some of my art-based creative projects, it absolutely informs my work. Debt is one of several intersectionally difficult social issues I consider through my practice - if I were more of an owner than a debtor, I would likely continue to choose to work on related issues. Lived economics (mine and others') have motivated a portion of my art production for a decade, and I don't see that ending no matter what my socioeconomic position becomes. If I weren't in debt, though, I'd have more time and resources to make that work; I'd be more prolific.