My current debt is planned and currently managed fairly well and creatively. However, at any time, a health problem, or a homeowner (condo, really) issue could derail my tightly controlled and planned budget, which contains some creative credit borrowing, a mortgage, and the need to supply my studio, when necessary.
I am a self-employed fiber artist and business owner who custom designs and creates unique garments and other 'appointments' (coverings, hangings, banners) for places of worship and for the people who wear unique garments to conduct religious services. I have designed predominantly for those in the Christian tradition, but have also done work for people and houses of worship of other faiths. My 'business of one' is completely hands-on from conception/conversation through design, creation, and delivery, and I have been in business for over 20 years. Since 2008, my business has been my sole source of income and support. This was a stretch for me and caused me some anxiety as I increased my various modes of 'putting myself out there' to generate business. There are times when my economic balance is in jeopardy due to the sporadic nature of marketing and selling ideas for the art I then create. The economy has affected the 'demand' factor over the last 10 years. I market my work by traveling to limited venues around the country, which has been a great benefit to creating a base of clients. Many of my commissions are made through word-of-mouth recommendation or attraction. I have also created a sideline of photographs of unique images that I find in nature or 'by accident'. These are sold matted or as note cards. My economic reality is affected by debts incurred when I have major repairs that need to be made to my small residence (currently contemplating the need to replace my AC/furnace, which is dying), by my private individual health insurance plan (although I am healthy, my individual plan insurance has continued to increase exponentially every year since 2008), and my mortgage. I have tried to use credit cards creatively so that I can reduce some of my risk, but generating income is still the bottom line to any expense, however well it is budgeted or managed.
My art is my life. It is my bread and butter. It is my joy. If my debt should become completely unmanageable, which it could in the case of a catastrophic health incident or major unforseen damage to my home. Even though my art is also my business, I would be faced with the possibility of having to work at a part-time job to continue to make ends meet, hoping that that would be possible, depending on the circumstances. I am nearing 'retirement age'; however, as with some others of my generation, the idea of retiring has also become meaningless. I doubt that I will ever, really retire--first for practical, income-producing purposes, and secondly, but perhaps more importantly, because I love what I do. I also hope there will come a day when I have time to 'do' more fiber art of my own to enjoy that different creative process and possibly be able to offer a more secular and open market for 'everyone'.