Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Artist Income

Justin Botz

A friend of mine introduced me a while back to a comic strip called Beardo, which features a young artist who just got an arts degree but can’t find work except for a job as a barista at a coffee shop. It was kind of funny but, at the same time, highlighted a painful truth.  Art is hard. Making a living as an artist is harder.

This semester, I’m taking a class with Jeff Abell called Art as Practice that’s all about solving this problem.  In our economy, artists shouldn’t expect to get full-time faculty positions right after finishing their M.F.A. or instantly have people knocking on their door to buy all their art.

Making a living as an artists in our time requires hard work, patience, and creativity. In our class, we are going through a book called the Artist’s Guide Book, and it’s full of great advice on earning income as an artist.

In the book, the author talks about how many artists believe they have to have a “real job” (a.k.a. non-art-related) to finance their passion, but there are many streams of income that artists can take advantage of to help support their art practice. Some alternative sources of income suggested were:

1. Teaching

2. Selling artwork

3. Artist’s residencies

4. Investments

5. In-kind donations

6. Grants

7. Barters

In class last Wednesday, Jeff also gave a great lecture on writing proposals for grants, residencies, and other sources of funding.

Here were five steps we learned for successful grant writing:

1. Clarify your fundraising goals

2. Research potential funders

3. Initiate contact through a query letter or request for guidelines

4. Draft a proposal

5. Seek feedback, revise, and follow through

I think this class will be valuable in helping solidify a vision for a successful/sustainable art practice. I’m looking forward to what becomes of the professional projects in this class.

Artist Income

A friend of mine introduced me a while back to a comic strip called Beardo, which features a young artist who just got an arts degree but can’t find work …

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA Justin Botz, justin.botz@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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