|Monopoly Wall ~slk|
Doing research regarding art as a source of income and survival, I came across this post from Maria Brophy about payment (or lack-there-of) for the work that artists create.
As I read, it occurred to me that my current frustration in the studio originates not in the timeless argument of whether or not artists SHOULD be paid but with the manner in which they MUST be paid.
Firmly ensconced in my increasing rejection and distaste for the consumer society motif which rules American culture, I know that my current path will lead me in a direction which leaves me entirely dependent upon that very concept. Pursuit of a future enslaved by a notion which I cannot truly embrace seems counter intuitive to me.
Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps being "self-employed" does not necessarily mean that I am confined to ONE value system for the work that I do. Spiritual fulfillment theories aside, it IS work. Self-employment indicates that my SELF decides how this is going go. It does not dictate that I must become enslaved to a never ending mission to make work for money to make more work for money to LIVE to make more work...
WHAT IF, in the interest of further development of my own self-sustaining, well-balanced, spiritually satisfying, living environment, I began to produce and distribute art using a self-prescribed, studio-dictated, barter system?
Would that system inevitably increase accessibility to art for those who might otherwise be unlikely to purchase it in the current money-based system? A true reflection of my own personal values, would this option emphasize and clarify the direct correlation between my ART and my LIFE?
I began to envision the idea that art lessons and art work could be offered in exchange for bulk art supplies necessary to make the work thus giving me extra materials to make work to trade to another patron for a different valuable-to-me commodity. Unfortunately, in this area, that would once again translate into a monetary exchange as I would likely need to order the supplies myself.
The train of thought did not derail. It transformed into or more basic-needs concept.
My B~Art~er & Trade brainstorm looks something like this....
Studio Merchandise (i.e. Note cards, post cards, calendars, etc.) in exchange for milk, eggs, fresh fruits, vegies, or dry goods like rice, flour, sugar, coffee,etc. delivered to my door...
A fine art print of a Sheila L. Kalkbrenner original in exchange for gravel to fill pot holes in my driveway?
A commissioned portrait in exchange for painting my porch?
Art Lessons for your child in exchange for ______?
The inevitable, open ended, "I'll -give- you -this- for- that..." conversation is an on-going option...especially if other local artists wanted to join the B~Art~er system trading art for art and supplies for supplies OR vice-versa in a cooperative effort to produce and share art in the local economy...the possibilities are endless.
Of course there will still be bills to pay and goods to purchase within the accepted monetary system so items will of necessity still be subject to exchange for actual dollars but, is it truly mandatory that all of my work must be assigned that ONE assessment of worth?
Although I loved the program when it first aired on PBS (and still do), my life doesn't have to be a re-enactment of Frontier House to make me happy but MUST I exclude myself from the ancient barter and trade system in order to be considered a self-sustaining, thriving, artist?
It has never been my intent to seek out the companionship of Sotheby and Bonham . Perhaps I will do that AFTER I am dead as so many others have done. As much as I love browsing those pages, there is a time and place for everything, as it were, and THEY don't live HERE. Who says Fine Art can't be practical?
If you see an art work in my Portfolio that you think you might like to own, make an offer in the comments section of this post or on the "contact" tab of my website.
People, experiences, creations, and relief from physical duress mean more to me than money EVER will.