Self-Patronage, a Non-business Model.
2022 Year of Aesthetics Series №24
I am interested in the arts for years I have attempted to take an active role in the arts, beyond just the passive and voyuerisic . I still enjoy arts in a passive role in the arts but I need to be generative and creative role in the arts. Most of us have artistic interest but often they are not pursued. Many are not at a talent or training level to make it as a professional artist. It is important to realize that few artist make it, even with talent or training and even those who make it usually go through a phase where they support their own art. Many want to have art as part of their life instead of fully dominating their life.
I have come to find the desire to create more important than profiting from art. At first I thought painting would be a nice revenue stream and I was excited to show and also to sell, but my sales and revenue were minuscule and cost and effort great. I didn’t like selling my work. I was piling up paintings, I went to a model giving them away at cost to myself, I was totally in control of the distribution and control of my output.
I have several art projects going on from painting, book clubs, piano, sausage making, cooking, hard books project etc. These things will not bear profit in a monitory sense, but they bring me a lot of joy. I take on yearly projects like a year of plays or opera which give me a deeper knowledge in the area. I may be more casual in my approach to art but more realistic in what the cost are to being a professional. The amateur is a role that suit me better.
The art market is competitive, I have met countless, musicians, writers, painter who grudgingly work jobs to suffer for their art. More I see people not enter into artistic creation because they see no profit in it. Often I hear I would like to paint, I would like to play, cook etc. The main barriers I see are time, cost and conviction backed up by a plan.
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
The non-business model implies that you keep an occupation or job that pays the bills and you accept it as a good means to an end. It also keeps business separated from pleasures and passions. The idea is to be your own patron and that you are going to save the time you would spend on selling and marketing art and dedicate it to creation.
In the role of patron you have to take care of the bills so getting an occupation that is one you enjoy and can advance in is easier than the more disposable roles that artist often take as a stop gap between success. This is good advice even for profit artist, and it increases the longevity of artist and increase the number of projects they can maintain.
It is nice to have the income to do the things you want to, it also allows projects to come and go, and to to pursue that interest you at the most. It allows me to have a painting season (summer to fall), an opera season (Fall and winter), time for cooking winter and summer. I am not tied to output in any area. As well, if you are not tied to generating revenue you can take time off of some of your art to move to other things, recently I started learning the piano, which reduced time for cooking and painting dramatically. I like being able to switch priority as a self-patron you decide your time usage not the public.
The Self-patronage of Time
Enda St. Vincent Millay
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light!
“I’ll sleep when I am dead.” ~ Warren Zevon
The occupation and job must not consume all your time. So as an artist you have to make a decision about how much time your day job takes from your day. This means you have to be willing to sacrifice art at times to advance your career as well as know that art may cost you your career at times. A good job in my mind is one that you can do in 40 to 50 hours a week, much more time than that and you are not going to have time for art. It should interest you, and can or not be connected to the arts, but very independent of your art. (My job is not artistic.)
I am flexible and know the load I carry, so I know that projects have to finish before new projects starts. My artistic production is very streaky I paint when I am obsessive and consumed by it, but I do not have a continuous desire to paint. When something new interest me I am willing to put painting aside, when I have a lull. I have been writing more and playing the piano daily. This has cut down on painting output . Since I control what I work on when I want to paint I will have to give up some practice time at the piano or write less. Time becomes more of a valued commodity than income at some point. For me I am able to be generative enough and work pays the bills I have enough time for what I want to work on. There is never enough time, but I feel my time being segregated between art and work as a perfect balance as someone who does not want be a professional artist.
Professional artist will be driven to be at the maximum time as the art, at least initially. I see a job you like giving most, not all the most amount of productive time as an artist. The revenue generation side of professional artist is a occupation, I just chose a different occupation with a realistic view to my skills and abilities. I am not going to be a famous artist and I hate selling and marketing my art.
Planning and Commitment
I am able to change what my main artistic questions are. Recently I felt time to take a less passive role in music. We have a piano in our home for our children and as I heard them play I wanted to play more and more. Piano is a commitment and I had to determined if I valued piano over other things I was going to sacrifice things. The piano was an up front cost but it is much less than lessons, and it requires more than an hour a day and is almost an everyday effort. To make this shift in interest I had to be willing determine the cost in time, money and sacrifice of other things. I did sacrifice hours worked at my job, I was spending too much time at work and piano helped strike the balance. I had to give up how much opera and theater and movies I consumed, I am reading less and painting less.
It took me ~14 months of time to get to the point where I could commit to these sacrifice. I had to taper off of a lot of things and it was not an easy choice and it required commitment. It required organizing a teacher, scheduling, and committing to practice. It also required goal of what I want to play and the realization that I am going to have to play things along the way that are more pedological than necessary my hearts desire.
What is the value of self-patronage ?
I first have been painting for 19 years, I have been able to paint off and on during that period and learn, and I didn’t have to sell, in fact I have moved to a model where I give most of my art away. I love walking into a friends home and seeing my work framed. I have the ablity to give personal gifts to close friends. The main part of this model is my art lives and doesn’t disappear in storage.
The Piano while it is a huge cost has lead to a relationship with an exceptional player and teacher. Immediately I found I was surrounded by other player and became part of a community. I was continuing my education in a way that suited me, and it is expanding my exposure to piano repertory substantially. Mostly I don’t feel like I am completely passive about music, I feel a joy in making and doing.
I feel little pressure in my pursuits, they are free because I have embraced the cost of what I want to explore.