I woke up yesterday, exhausted and overwhelmed. I realized I needed a day at home to just sit quietly - I have been on full steam ahead for over a year and it's starting to take it's toll. I spent the day catching up on links I've meant to click, watching videos that seemed important and honestly just puttering around my house. I don't remember the last time I did that - home for a full day. I felt guilty for not going to the studio, guilty for not working on my Indiegogo campaign, guilty for not catching up on blog posts - all the guilt left me with a low grade depression/malaise.
At the end of the day, I got a phone call from a Facebook friend that I had photographed which changed everything. She was calling to thank me for the $100 check I sent her for buying her cds. Initially she would not charge me, and wanted to give them to me as a donation. I forced her into sending me an invoice, and still she only made it out for $80, which I knew was below market value, so I sent her a check for $100. She didn't think I would really send it. It arrived the day she got an invoice for $100 from an artists she was working with for the project she is working on. She didn't have $100 to pay it - and then my check arrived. The same day I also received a contribution from her to my campaign.
I am telling this story for two reasons: 1. it made my gloomy day so much brighter and 2. this is the real creative economy. The $100 I sent her was from four $25 contributions made to me by other artists. I then invested it her, which she then invested in someone else. This is the real "creative economy". This is not something that politicians and arts organizations tout happens in their state. This is what happens when an initial investment of $25 is turned into helping make three projects happen in a week. (And after the call, a skip to my step was back - I finished a grant application and a blog post. )
I come from two parents who are community activists and have worked diligently both professionally and in their personal lives to make the world a better place. They never had much money (and still don't) but I grew up with the mentality you invest whatever you have into making the community you love a better place. I saw them every Christmas write out check after check for $10, $25, $100 to the stack of causes they believed in.
When I started selling work, I decided I would take their model and every time I sold a piece, I would buy a piece from a younger artist. With the Indiegogo campaign, I decided to be more specific and set a goal of 10% of proceeds and focus on the people that made this project happen, the other artists I photographed. I sent an email to everyone asking if I could buy work from them to add to the incentives I would be sending to contributors. I only got a handful of responses, and most people assumed I want them to give me things for free. I repeated myself several times "No, I want to buy your work."
We are told as artists, over and over again that our time is not valuable. That the things we make are non essential. I want to stop that way of thinking - I encourage everyone to support the people they believe in. I know I won't be able to single handledy change the world, but I am so elated to know that I can make a difference, that you can make a difference $25 at a time.