How did you get into debt?
I have chosen not to work at a job and use credit cards to supplement my meager art related income, my debt rising or falling in a feast or famine cycle. I currently use debt for groceries and household expenses, art supplies, metro cards, and gas and insurance for my car. Since moving to New York 3 years ago my art sales, both independent and through galleries, have shrunk. What little I make goes to rent and the expense of living in the city. I recently started working part-time in order to reverse this trend and am searching for additional work in order to pay off my current debt as I have reached my carrying capacity. If I cannot pay it off I will be forced to move back out west where my expenses would shrink dramatically. I remain confident that I can stay in New York.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
I have sometimes tempered my expressions about politics to collectors on social media so as not to jeopardize sales. But on a practical level having debt does not change my work's content. On the contrary, debt is a tool I have chosen to use to make the artwork I want to make, however unfashionable it is. But on a personal level I am envious of rich artists who can make any art they want and sell it while most of us remain anonymous. Sometimes I am embarrassed by my poverty. I get melancholy when I think that, having started with nothing, I will never be anything but poor, always struggling until I die unknown. I wonder what will happen to my artwork, if it will be discarded in a landfill. My debt makes me feel that I am no better than any dolt in America subsisting on the breast of Capitalism. I think my art should attack the very system I am trying to be a part of, which makes it even less marketable. The choice of diverting my time to a job feels like defeat. I also realize it is a luxury for me to have that choice.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
It could be bigger. I have been working small to encourage more sales. And there would be more of it since I would not need to be distracted by commercial projects as much.