30 January 2014

The numbers

Ok, so here are the announced numbers in as stark a way as numbers can have to deliver bad news. By the way, I pondered again and again whether I should post them. Is it tacky? Is it an invitation to unwanted attention from the IRS? Hardly. The IRS will be sorely disappointed.
My goal posting this as I've stated many times is mostly to help me confront them and may be help other artists confront theirs. Numbers have a wonderful (and horrible)  way of delivering the truth.

Last year, from painting and workshops I made a total of $36,530 . Sounds good! Call the tax agents!
Not so fast. That is the gross. 
After gallery and venue commissions,  I only took 63% of that gross:  $22,960$ . Uh-oh. That is also subject to taxation and I haven't done my taxes yet so I expect even less.
And then there are the pervasive Expenses. I am including the following categories of expenses:
Framing, Art Supplies, Entry and Membership fees and Studio rent. I am also accounting to a certain degree for some meals and gas while on painting trips. This expense list does NOT include things like rent, groceries, insurance, cell phone, etc...

So after expenses I am left with an optimistic 9K for the whole year. Not so good anymore. About 3,000 dollars below poverty level for a family of 1 actually.With the 13K I got from unemployment insurance for the year (try living on that), I've been able to cope.

The good news is that I sold of lot of artwork. The bad news is that I won't make a living selling it, at least not yet. The good news is that I can see people respond to my artwork . The bad news is that right now I am devoting all my energy to finding a job, retraining as a paralegal and taking  Maya and Nuke and Photoshop classes.

On a side note:   After seeing the Zorn exhibit in San Francisco through the prism of my situation, I realized that fabulous careers in art are usually made by great artists, duh, people whose amazing talent spoke for itself -first-. (Sorolla, Sargent, Zorn, they didn't need to advertise... lucky them.)
Marketing is great and necessary, it can make the difference between doing what you love and staying put in a lousy job. If a painting takes your breath away however, that's its own advertising. While I  like my paintings well enough  and I think I should promote them, I need to get better or win some awards or both. At least until I can spend the money on ads.

In any case,  these numbers are exactly what I needed to make decisions going forward and finish the rest of my business plan.  If I can't paint, life has little to offer so back to looking for a job.  Oh, and here is a painting, just for  kicks.

"The Castro, San Francisco" 9"x12"


Judy P. said...

Lively,energetic painting; man, it is bold and raw of you to openly state your business details. Interesting for sure, but to me it just reinforces how hard the art life is, and most artists know this. Only the ignorant folks who say 'you're lucky, you have fun painting everyday' will raise their eyebrows at this. That alone makes this post worthwhile.
But it is blue info, much like hearing the low pay of skilled musicians, all arts really. It's a drag especially for someone at your skill level. Sorry I guess I'm not saying much, but I wanted to acknowledge your strong candor.

Jose De Juan said...

Thank you Judy. I think it must be a European thing but I had to lay the numbers out there. It's a measuring tool. I hesitate to say it measures success but , what the heck, may be they do. In that case, I have to do a better job and not be carried away by negativity.

Albert. S said...

Jose...I liked this post very much. I found it insightful, courageous, and tenacious. From what I see you have very good chances of making this your day job. If you could find a way to cut back on expenses here and there, and of course selling more artwork. Btw..maybe upping your price just a bit, might help. I would very inspired that people are finding sympathy with your work. I think it was Degas or Winslow who qouted, "If you keep at it someone will eventually find sympathy in your work".
..good post. Get the Gamsol out and fire away.

Jose De Juan said...

Thank you Albert. One of the things about about art is that you have to put ALL the work upfront. I think it is essential to realize you need to paint and paint and paint and put your best effort in a sort of "runner's solitude". That is, do not expect praise or benefits of any kind upfront or even from every piece you create. The benefits are reaped at a later date if at all as the "body" of work starts to speak for itself.