Tuesday, August 21, 2007

starving artist: the lotto plan

when i became a "full-time" artist seven months ago, i only had a vague plan: i would support myself by spending my savings for a while, apply for grants and fellowships, and take freelance jobs here and there to make ends meet.

i auditioned for stuff. i submitted my work to film festivals and exhibitions. i applied for every grant, award, and residency i could find. and then i started receiving the inevitable: rejection after rejection.

around mid-april, the string of rejections lead to a deep neurosis about my financial stability.
my money was disappearing quick, and very little i did would replenish it. i sold some things. i put ads on my website. i opened a cafepress store. but my neuroses lead to me spending more time thinking about money rather than being creative. what use was it for me to quit my job if i wasn't going to make things?

at the advice of my therapist, i took a part-time job sanding in a woodshop. i enjoy it a lot; i use my hands and have to trust my senses with every piece of wood that hits my workbench. working with wood is an engrossing craft, even meditative.

but as much as i enjoy woodworking, i know that it is not my calling. and even though i took it to earn some money, i'm making less than half of what i did working at UT.

so even though i am not nearly as neurotic as i was about four months ago, money is often on the mind.

when i am this strapped for cash, i find myself budgeting on what i call "the lotto plan." i think a lot of us do it--think about all the things we would do with more money than we can even imagine. my plans (which i will probably explore here over time) often involve: paying off my student loans and credit card debt; donating money to various social justice and arts organizations that need it, commissioning art from my artist friends; paying for my partner to go on leave; flying a whole bunch of friends and family to austin for a huge party; buying group healthcare for all these uninsured dykes i know; traveling to a different place every month...

"the lotto plan" has been very active in my mind. i find myself telling folks, "when i win the lotto..." i'll buy you a horse, i'll get us a pool, i'll buy that table saw off you, i'll own a biodiesel truck.

it's exciting to think about the possibilities, even if you are faced with the impossibility of numbers. in my mind, getting a sizeable grant or competitive residency feels just as hard, if not harder, than winning the lotto. i remember a professor from college telling me about how competitions were decided on what a judge ate for breakfast.

all these factors have lead me to a perform conceptual piece i will carry out for the next year called, "starving artist." here is the score"
  • i will buy one mega millions lotto ticket for every drawing (tuesday and friday)
  • i will use numbers that are personally significant
  • i will use only one set of numbers throughout the year
  • i will collect the stubs and mount them on a medium as an archive/visual aspect of the piece
  • in the event that i win something, i will claim the prize and retain a copy of the stub to be added to the piece
and so, the journey begins.

No comments: