Scrounging As Lifestyle & Who’s Idea of Success Are We Talkin’ About?
Last week I headed down to Cheap Thrills , a pile of old records in my bag (goodbye mid-90’s post rock phase) in order to pull together enough coin to grip a couple Voivod tickets for me and the beau. A few days latter our comped tickets to the museum fundraiser arrived. My first though was what the heck am I going to wear to either of these events? The second was how the heck am I , as a total scrounger who is a bit of an art world n00b going to fit in amongst the wealthy fundraiser crowd? One word , awkwardly.
According to a survey from the Quebec Gov. that I didn’t fill out because it was too complicated and confusing , most visual artists in Quebec live below the poverty line with median yearly wages being around 10 000 for women and 13 000 for men. I wish I hadn’t thrown it in the recycling as despite opacity of the questions , there were some interesting stats. Anyway , my point is most professional visual artists in Quebec are scroungers, in fact are poor according to our own government’s income statistics.
Most professional artists in the province are poor. And art patrons and non-artist art professionals tend to not be . And so we dance around it and try to pretend the imbalance isn’t there.
I don’t know any artist who will call themselves poor. “Broke” is generally the key word , as if it’s just a temporary condition , ’cause we all hope it is. We are the outliers , not the statistics. Right?
Success is just around the corner and all this scrounging and making do is akin getting a degree in resourcefulness. Something like that. I’m so glad I’m resourceful and can do large scale projects on a shoestring. Right?
The main reason I’m returning to school this fall is for accreditation to help me (hopefully) land some arts related job in order to better support myself and my practice. I’m over the ups and downs of freelancing. Making things costs money , bigger things cost more than small ones. Reality , yeah , it’s ok. It’s weird though because whenever I mention returning to school friends and acquaintances often try to convince me not to. “But you are so successful” they’ll say before maybe mentioning a coffee table book me and the beau have some prints in , or a group show we were in 2 years ago or that fact that someone else they know has seen our work at some point , somewhere.
Hearing this told to me so many times has me wondering how low the bar is for “success” as an artist? Without the ability to cover basic expenses much of the time or to fund large scale projects , without institutional support , critical recognition or regular paid work all while working sometimes 60 hours a week, I wonder if they would be willing to take on that definition of success for themselves?
In an era saturated by social networking, user-created content , and book bound and printed cheaply in China how does having one’s work seen or name know in a non-critical context count for anything?
I posit that a level of awareness of one’s creative work outside of one’s imediate social circle is simply the starting point rather than an end in itself.
No sads , just working towards a better situation because if where I’m at now is supposed to be “success” than I can’t imagine why anyone would even consider being an artist. I certainly wouldn’t.
As a teenager I got tattooed and it said : “Turn delusion into affluence” , we’ll see.
Lately I’m helping a friend get organized , bartending parties , screenprinting for another artist, doing the Etsy hustle to get these new sculptures made. Got a lead on a part time job fit for a scrounger?
Jolicoeur metro station.
Shoes , Steve Madden Girl (that line tends towards veganess) gripped at winners 30$ , socks bought at the St Laurent street fair more than 10 years ago , probably cheap. Tights , Winners , 4$.
Poly dress gripped from Frip-Prix , 6$ , bought it on my birthday because it was a work day. Cardi , Salvation Army in suburban Calgary , 4$. OCC lip tar in Butch. Noise disks all over the floor.
Studio is full of sun and I’m stunned about the unfurling of the short-leg. Shorts from Cheap Opulance , thanks Sarah for the swap. Blouse from Frip-Prix 5$ , Cardi found on the beach in the summer of ’10 while at an artist’s residency , tights the Gap , on sale for 3.78$ (boxing day) , vegan Docs.
I thought this outfit was pretty tame for me but it elicited a lot of comments from teens on the metro (negative) and randos in the produce aisle (positive) so I guess the lesson is , yellow.
Gap coat from Goodwill in Mississauga , half off day so 5$. Rayon blouse from Frip-Prix , 5$ . Braided chain necklace , Value Village in Red Deer Alberta , 1$. Skirt Salvation Army downtown , 3$ , same Gap tights as above. Stupid facial expression , me after too much coffee and too much screenprinting , free. OCC lip tar in Pretty Boy.
Know who is not a scrounger? Ashely Judd. Hey essay has been going around the internet so perhaps you already read it but just in case.
“Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women.”