The transformative process of the Creative Capital Professional Development Program for artists is real. This program has been working for me as much as I have been working the program. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. I started this 4 month workshop just less than a month ago and my eyes have been opened to the reality of my situation as an artist and how to move forward in a sustainable manner.
Last week as part of the Creative Capital workshop, I participated in a webinar “Real Life Budgeting” with Andrew Simonet. One of the main topics was how to create multiple revenue streams. As Andrew explained his success with real estate, many of us were thinking that was out of reach. Most of us are trying to meet our monthly bills and not considering saving for a downpayment on a house. Andrew explained the longterm tax benefits of owning your own home, as well as perks of renting out an apartment within your home. He advised us that there were resources we could access to make this possible like FHA Loans set up by the government, as well as ArtHome which aids artists in buying or preparing to buy a home. He then listed a few things we could do immediately to address our financial situations.
1. Pull your credit report and see where you are standing financially.
2. Contact a realtor and get an understanding of what you would need to do to consider purchasing a home.
3. Track your expenses for the week to see exactly how you are spending money.
4. Figure out what your time costs per hour, per day, and per week.
I followed Andrew’s guidelines, except for tracking my expenses. I realized that itemizing everything I bought for the week just sounded horrible. Instead I took out the maximum amount of money I wanted to spend on miscellaneous items for the next two weeks in cash, put it in my wallet, and that was it. I could spend it on whatever I needed, but the cash was my limit. Somehow I still have $16.00 left and I feel great not using a debit or credit card and trying to work it out later.
Figuring out what my time costs was probably the most important suggestion on the list. I feel more confident in the way I am pricing my time because I have a clear understanding of the amount of money I need to make to survive. I might want to give someone a deal on my work, but that is not necessarily sustainable. I am hurting myself by trying to make other people happy, when in fact we will all be much happier in the long run if I am able to continue my practice as an artist and the work purchased from me increases in value over time.
Only one month go I felt guilty about making my art, embarrassed that I needed to include an artists fee in my budget for my documentary. At this point I am feeling empowered by my work and realizing that no one in their right mind would consider trying to pay all the expenses and donate over 10,000 hours to a project unless, possibly, they were independently wealthy, which I am not. I have to make this work. It isn’t a choice, it’s a responsibility to myself, my future self, to the community around me, and to the legacy of the culture my community has created.
—Colleen Gutwein is a documentary photographer working in Newark, NJ. She is currently developing “The Newark Arts Photo Documentary Project” a photographic documentary cataloging contemporary artists working within the Newark arts community. Gutwein uses both digital and traditional photographic processes to create a range of viewpoints into the community and each artist as an individual.