Creating Space for Art: Money

Part II of a III part series. If art takes time, and time is money, then how you handle your finances will directly affect your art.

The nice thing is, how you spend your money is your choice. Your standard of living as it were is not dictated to you, though if you don't run hard after the American dream you might get sideways glances now and then. In my own situation I have pursued employment with flexibility and higher hourly wage, not so I could raise my standard of living, but so we could take care of our expenses while working less so as to have more space to create. I could have made a lot more money in the past couple of years, but I valued time for creation as more important than a car with four working doors. When you buy everything you can afford, you are making the decision that those items are worth more than the time you exchanged for them.

How you spend your money as well as your expectations on what you need to be satisfied, effects your ability to create.

But if you are like minded with the apostle Paul who said, "if we have a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, we are content," then kudos to you, you can live a meaningful life without all the things the commercials say we need, which means you can spend more time making the world a more beautiful place.


Some practical suggestions for part-time creators:

1) Learn to budget your finances well. When you write out (and actually stick to) a budget. It feels like you're getting a raise. If you squander what you do have, then you'll have to work that much harder to keep up with your financial sloppiness.

1b) Work three jobs and pay off your debts. Not only do debts eat up cash flow, their presence is weight on your shoulders and distraction from creativity.

2) Get strategic with your employment. Want to tour all summer? Become a teacher (though schools are quickly shortening summer break); start doing web design and do all the grunt work while you're sitting in a van driving across Nebraska for the millionth time.

Want to write a book? There are jobs out there that require a warm body to keep an eye on things. Sure it's minimum wage, but you can get paid minimum wage to sit there and write a book.

Or maybe you could do like poet William Carlos Williams and become a doctor in a small town with just a few patients so you could make a living wage only working a few hours a week in order to write during the rest.

3) Sell out (sort of). A friend of mine recently got into the photography business, he has a fantastic eye and has worked his butt off understanding the physics behind the art. And it shows. While he'd love to make his money taking artsy shots, he shoots a lot of weddings and has even picked up some commercial architecture shoots in Chicago. Is he enamored with weddings? Probably not. But it pays the bills while giving him opportunities to hone his craft.

My version of 'selling out' is giving guitar lessons, which I started doing after reading an article by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. Teaching is, in his opinion, the best way to make sure you understand the fundamentals of your craft. I can vouch for that. It raises questions I hadn't thought of, and on more than one occasion I found myself learning something about music as I was explaining something to a student. I am a better musician and guitarist for it. Plus, I'm getting paid to have a guitar in my hands.