The hidden costs of being a professional artist
The questions have made the rounds for many years in my head as to how much do I have to spend to do this? Being an artist is one thing, and the costs for that are strictly what I need to purchase supplies. Framing is optional. I can hang the finished work with tacks or nails or tape.
And, then I entered the world of showing the work. Now, I had to make sure the work was “ready-to-hang”, and learned to read the fine print as to what that means. Framing was no longer optional, and I had to learn to putty corners and repaint frames. I also learned early-on that as much as I love museum glass, I was going to use commercial glass, and hope that my patrons loved the work enough to protect it from UV light.
Since I entered the professional world, I have also become a certified framer, and own a decent mat cutter, and know my way around putting together paper pieces without horribly upsetting the budget. But, that is mainly because I can take care of the labor, and I don’t go for the best frames, just something reasonable. Everything that comes in direct contact with the work, like mat board and foam core, though, is acid-free.
Most of my work is oil-based, and on canvas. Skinny stretcher bars warp, so I make it a point to get the thick stretcher bars for big work, ie. larger than 16″ x 20″.
All of the above is fine and predictable. What I was never taught in school is what the marketing would cost. When I set out in 1987 to really start to make “my name”, I found myself spending more on slides and postage. Then, there was a trip to New York so I could do what was known then as the “humility shuffle”-complete with a two-night stay in a Manhattan hotel, food, etc. It was considered a mini-vaca, but I still worked one solid afternoon with my late husband canvasing the galleries before I actually approached them. I did get a slot in a group show. Then, I shelled out shipping and insurance to not sell anything.
The Internet has eliminated the need for the slides, but not for an occasional disc, and the related postage. But, it has not completely negated any expenses that may not have been anticipated.
Enter the required website. The web universe is free unless you don’t code. And, even then, space needs to be purchased. And, then there is that pesky domain name.
I have done well so far with this blog, and I even picked up a gallery and two sales through it. I am on it enough that I get a fair Google share through my name. But, Tuesday night, even though I have a few half-assed attempts at building a site out in Internet land, I had a curator who really wanted more than I had posted on a site, and not to have to wade through all of the 2014 posts here.
On Wednesday, I found a web builder that appeared to be low-cost, with a free domain name included, for the first year. Ah, I signed up, without a way to find the true cost after the introductory one-month $1.95. Yikes!! It was $21.95 per month!! I called them to cancel, and talked to a very nice rep who presumably set me up with a site for $9.95 plus their security fee which is an additional $1.95. So, I worked for the last three days to build a great looking site, and the platform is a delight to work. But, this afternoon, I checked my billing info and I am set up to be billed for $21.95 next month. REALLY??
I set out after that to resurrect the weebly site, and though it isn’t great, it’s free. If I want to add my domain name I can, but that puts into a more premium status and hence, I pay for the domain and the right to eliminate their name from my present one with them.
So, Monday, I will find out if I am out $3.90 and some time-I just hope I have two now working web sites!