Wednesday, February 24, 2010


It’s been awhile since I wrote about my “money issue” but I thought it would be good to share some of the changes I have made recently.

The first one is, I have started to do some “bartering” work in exchange for partial credit against my studio rent. Since this is my single greatest expense, it’s been a huge relief to reduce the payment I make every month.

The most recent development is that I have agreed to do some freelance bookkeeping for another artist. It’s a perfect fit since I understand cash flow issues and the fragmented nature of the art business model. Just like most artists, my client’s revenue comes from multiple sources, making record keeping even more important and more challenging.

It seemed natural that I would try to supplement my income with my bookkeeping skills, but it’s also a charged subject for me. Does this mean I am giving up my art? Absolutely not! My hope is that this will free up space in my head so the creativity will flow.

Does this mean I have failed as an artist? Am I now a “bookkeeper” who does art on the side? Are people going to think less of me as an artist once they know I am also a bookkeeper? I know that the answer to all these questions is “no”, but there are moments when I question what I am doing. Why should I worry about a label anyway? It’s not really what we do – it’s how we live that is important – right?

As stressful as it can be, self-employment is what I always wanted. As a matter of fact, my first venture into self-employment was as a bookkeeper. I had business cards made up that said “Foothill Bookkeeping”. (I lived on Foothill Blvd in Sunland, north of Los Angeles.) Making business cards was about as far as I got though. Shortly after the cards were printed I got a great job and stayed there until the birth of my daughter.

It was a hard decision to go public with the details of my debt and I debated whether or not to share this latest development, but it feels right. The steps I am taking to reduce not only my debt, but the stress surrounding it, have become a large part of who I am these days - so it only seems natural to want to write about it here. I have had to let go of “how” things would work out and just take each opportunity as an invitation to experiment.

I will end with one of my favorite quotes –“ Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Helen Keller


  1. Dianne:
    Your willingness to share your financial struggles resonants with man of us for sure. The reality is that not many of us want to admit the stress that hangs over our heads in regards to financial success or failure or the gray zone in between.

    As far as putting a title on who we are. I read a book once, "Welcome to the World Baby Girl." The main character was a news anchor and when asked who she was that is how she identified herself. Who we are should not be labeled by what we do. It comes from within. Let your artist being shine while you crunch the numbers!

  2. When I started studying Buddhism it dawned on me that no one at the retreats cared what anyone "did" so I decided I would define myself by the present moment and so when I am cooking I am a cook, when I am working on an art piece I am an artist and when I am gardening I am a gardener etc. All of a sudden my anxieties over who I was vanished!

  3. WOW Dianne, If working in another field to keep your head above water is taking away from your artfulness, than what does that make me. There have been times throughout my life when I have worked 2...3 jobs to make ends meet. That's all we're doing. I think I'm a better artist now than ever. I can't wait to get out and take pictures. We do what we have to do to survive. Especially in these difficult times. We are not failures if we don't quit.

  4. Thanks so much for letting those who read your blog know who you are and what you're up to. It takes courage, I know, but I have the guts to show what's really going on with me, I see how the bridge between me and others in my life is authentic. Who wants friendships based on role-playing--fragile indeed. Lots of people toodle through life behind images, acting in ways they think they should appear. I'm fortunate in getting to know the real you, Miss Artist.

  5. You have to do what is going to give you peace of mind. I totally applaud your decision and don't feel that it should make you any less of an artist in anyone's eyes (including your own). We all have to do what we have to in order to make ends meet and there should be no shame or judgment in that. Plus, all that left brain stuff with bookkeeping may make your right brain even more eager to come out and play!

    I love what Clodagyh Smith said about defining oneself in the moment. When I meet people, I've tried to make a habit of asking people what they like to do rather than what they do for a living. We are so much more than our jobs!

  6. Dianne, we've talked about this and I've told you how brave - and inspiring - I think you are for sharing your journey. As Clodagh pointed out, when you paint, you are an artist; when you garden, you are a gardener; and, most importantly, when you share, you are a trusting friend.

  7. In a way doing something else for income can make one a better artist. With another income stream one no longer has to worry about selling out, but can make the art that's closest to your vision.

  8. Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments! I am actually starting to feel some excitement and freedom about this new approach and will keep you posted.

    Again, I really appreciate what everyone has said. Thank you!

  9. Mmm. Yes. After having lost (more) money on a failed art venture last year I have become a vintage seller on line.

    The money I am earning will pay for an upcoming exhibition - the matting and framing supplies.

    And MAYBE I will have enough for an overseas trip late next year.

    I also am enjoying the experience and do not believe this is taking away from my being an artist.

    We do what we need to. Yeah for us, we can change our hats if we need to.

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience Deborah. I know I am not alone here. Yes - we will do whatever it takes to continue making our art! Good luck to you. Keep me posted!

  11. Dear Dianne,

    When I had my own freelance design business in San Francisco, I worked on the weekend in the hospital to help out with the lows, when business was slow.

    Having a steady cash flow does not mean one has sold out, rather it is the wisest thing one can do.

    Only a few make it to were they are not concerned too much with money, but for the majority artist, we will always struggle.

    Considering our current economic times, we have to do what we have to do in order to continue practicing our art.

    Wishing you all the very best,

  12. Surely it is better to be able to afford to practice one's art and explore ideas than not. Earning the funds to keep yourself and continue to fund your artistic self does not define who you are or lessen you as an artist in any way, rather it frees you to explore.