Hi everyone! Happy Birthday to my best friend and most dedicated reader, Kayla! I hope that your day is as wonderful as you are and that this year brings you everything that you want and need.
As an artist, I tend more towards the habits of a hoarder than those of a minimalist. But there’s a good reason for it! You never know what little bit, bob or knick knack could come in handy when you’re creating something.
My partner Kevin has vastly helped with the decluttering and organization of my life. Marie Kondo has also been a twinkling inspiration. Our shared rooms (bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom) are maintained as mostly clutter-free spaces (my collection of 8 different vinegars doesn’t count as clutter, ok?). My studio, however, is a different story. We have a rule that we aren’t allowed to judge or fidget with each other’s spaces, so my studio is the place where all of my found items come to rest.
I am definitely a collector of things that I find to be beautiful or inspiring. I love repurposing vintage suitcases, hanging my own art as well as that of my family and friends, using multiple artistically designed notebooks at a time. I also really like clothes (even though I often have a hard time justifying the money spent on them when thrift stores exist.)
My habit for picking up things here and there also stems from the desire to save money whenever possible. I don’t want to get rid of something that I may end up going to buy new the next week. So this is my first money-saving tip: save things that inspire you! They will eventually be put to good use! Unlike me, you should probably make yourself a deadline for how long you’re allowed to keep something “for a project” before you decide that that project might take a very long time to get to the top of your priority list. If the deadline flies by, you can probably let that item go so that someone else may be able to help it fulfill its artistic destiny.
The rest of my tips roughly fall into 3 categories:
Do you love thrift stores? Me too! So many great finds to be found.
In the city especially, there seems to always be an abundance of paintings and framed prints for sale. If you need a painting support, why not consider purchasing an abandoned piece in order to create a post-collaboration. This can potentially save you money (depending on how reasonable the thrift store or garage sale is) and it’s also a fun way to get out of your comfort zone!
I understand some people might feel iffy about changing someone else’s artwork without their knowledge, and if you feel that way, maybe stick to my next tip instead:
Go on a scavenger hunt! Look for unconventional supports that you can paint on that people have put out to garbage. If you like working big, old wooden doors make great supports. Old wooden chairs or shelving units can make for cool projects as well. PSA: Make sure to check for signs of mould or bed bugs before bringing these things inside.
Another way to save money by re-using items is to remove the canvas from your own paintings that may not have worked out the way that you wanted them to. You can roll the canvas for safe-keeping and re-use the stretcher to make something new!
Create or Join a Community
Tell everyone you know that you’re an artist! Try not to be too obnoxious about it because we all know that person who can go on forever talking about their work to someone whose eyes glazed over in the first minute of the conversation. But still! Let them know! When the people around you know that you have a specific skill or interest, and they hear of an opportunity related to that interest, they will think of you. For instance, my lovely neighbour came into possession of a beautiful wooden H-frame easel last year and since he had no use for it, passed it along to me. I now use it every day.
Find or create a community of artists in your area. Especially look for people who work in the same medium as you (they may have supplies that they don’t need anymore that could be useful to you and vice-versa). They will also be on the lookout for similar opportunities, and you can share your own resources or opportunities with them. You can even share costs on certain items that are more cost-effective when purchased in large quantities. Things like gesso, raw canvas, varnishes and mediums can be purchased in bulk and split up among the group according to individual need.
if you are lacking in storage space, invite your friends and family to an open studio to choose a painting or two to “babysit”. Make sure you have good documentation and photographs of the work, write down the name & contact info of the person who is babysitting the painting, and then when a buyer expresses interest, offer an exchange for the piece that they are safeguarding for you.
Make it Easy
Have a “wishlist” of supplies you need, either in a notebook or on your phone, along with their regular prices. Always carry it with you so that any time you stop by an art store, you can check for a sale or a lower price than elsewhere. Find out when your art store’s seasonal sales are and stock up on the products you use frequently at that time.
Make work on standard size supports. Standard sizes go on sale more often and it’s also easier to find frames for them instead of having to pay for custom framing. Affordable frames can be found at a thrift store or places like Ikea, but it’s also worth checking out your local independently-owned framing shop to see if their prices are competitive.
I hope these tips and tricks are helpful or at least interesting for you! If you have ideas, share them in the comments so we can all benefit. Thank you for reading and I hope you all have a joy-filled weekend.