Friday, October 19, 2012

The Money Thing - Part 4 of 4

Thus far in this series, I have attempted to conquer some of the "hot topics" of prices for comic art, most specifically at conventions but pretty much anywhere.  Here are my conclusions, to summarize:

(1) Price your work where you are comfortable selling it for, based on a combination of time, quality, your own recognizance, what market will bear and how important it is to you that people buy it.
(2) Art is not all about money - if it is, it's no longer art, it's work.  Volunteer work and favors are important no matter what you do.  We just happen to draw pictures.
(3) Art is beautiful, but requires a lot of thought, passion, materials and time to create - and an artist should be compensated, out of respect for the beauty of his/her work as well as the time and effort taken to accomplish it.

Now that you've made some money, what do you do with it?

PART 4: Stop Starving, Stupid (or, Living Responsibly as an Artist)

There is nothing dishonorable about starving.  There is something drastically wrong with being irresponsible.

If you are the poster child for "starving artist" there is probably something very wrong with your picture.  Let's all accept that, by and large, art may not pay the bills the way you want and you might need to get yourself a J-O-B. When people spend money on art they do so out of their disposable income, and when there's no disposable income, the necessities of life dominate, leaving you with a full table to pack up at the end of the show.

There's also the very real possibility you're just not that good.  Declaring "I AM AN ARTIST" doesn't mean the dollars will just start flowing in.  Are you taking time to learn, study, and train in your chosen craft?  How is your anatomy, your perspective, your consistency, your backgrounds?

Now, let's fast forward and say that you are actually starting to break even or make a little moolah.  What now?

It was only this year that I started actually making some money at these shows.  I remember how floored I was the first time I broke a hundred bucks.  Everything in me SCREAMED to take that cash and run around the show and grab up statues, dollar bin comics and all manner of fun stuff.  After all, if I was generating the cash, shouldn't I therefore be able to spend the cash any way I want?

Well, no, not if I have half a brain and an ounce of discipline.  And by the way, I make a decent living at my J-O-B, thank you very much.  If I have a rough day at a con it isn't going to make or break me (aka I live financially responsibly).  Therefore, I could just spend my con cash as fast as I make it.  I could.  But that's not responsible, is it?  Not when I have other artists to pay, table costs to meet, art supplies to purchase, books to print, and bills to pay.  And IF art was my sole breadwinning opportunity, you'd better believe I'd be at it hardcore throughout the day to make sure I was improving my skills, marketing myself, producing enough to make ends meet.

Otherwise, I just become one of the poor saps trying to sponge off some charities after years of pissing away my artistic cash on hobbies and distractions, not saving and investing and making it grow.  Kids, you have a responsibility to retire and not be reliant on the government, your kids or Hero Initiative to bail you out of decades of irresponsible decisions, if you are physically and mentally able to do so.  No exceptions.  "But I'm an artist!" is NOT an exception.
Fellow artists - put away your X-boxes and Playstations.  You don't have time for gaming.  You need to draw, paint, write, conceptualize, and draw some more.  You need to generate the artwork for the next big show.  You need to pencil and ink those pages.  In one hour I can create a pretty cool, full color pinup on a comic book backing board.  I could do five or six pages of thumbnail layouts for a comic book.  I could draw a panel of a comic book page.  Or, I can zone out on Facebook or level up on KOTR.  Which would you say are time well spent?  Which are you really passionate about?  Being an artist or getting another utterly meaningless high score?

There is so much more to add here, if I continue on this tangent, but regarding the financial aspect, I think this is a good place to stop, for now.  Your comments, pro or con, are most welcome.  And I hope to bump into you at a show sometime soon.

Much love,


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