I’d ask you all to presuppose that this article is about a very specific vantage on the virus. It by no means suggests that navigating these times as an artist is the hardest hit way to exist in these times. It is, of course, those affected so personally by the cruel virus itself. In this article I will assume that the reader has followed the news closely, is aware of the wider issues, the dangers, the deathcount and the heroic nature of the NHS. This article will consequently not discuss anything further about the virus itself or the times we live in, beyond it’s affect on my artistic career. I hope that it’s not perceived as flippancy but instead for the exhaustion and anxiety it truly is.
Can a sector get sick?
It took me until I was in my thirties to call myself an artist, so for this to happen so soon into my career it makes me kick myself a little for the years lost. Commissions that I have spent hours preparing, weeks and months waiting on, all gone within hours of each other. The cancellation of events means markets, festivals and exhibitions. It means lost commissions and lost chances to earn revenue.
Artists, everywhere are worried. Some rely solely on their artist income and have studio rent to pay. Bills to pay. Online sales took a nosedive too as job security plummeted. People have spent all their wages on loo roll and have more on their minds than buying art. Plus, competition is high. Bricks and Mortar businesses are pleading for custom in a way they haven’t before. I don’t see how I can make money as an artist until this is through.
Postponed or cancelled though?
Technically, everything I had booked in is actually postponed, not cancelled. This shows great willing on the organisers part to keep contracts and support artists. However, the reality is that some of these organisations might not survive the crisis. Some of these opportunities will be postponed and consequently clash with other sought after opportunities. It means that the scale of lost income and opportunity is particularly hard to gauge.
Is it all doom and gloom?
Hopefully not. But it is scary. Many artists are banding together online, exploring online markets and #drawthisinyourstyle competitions to gain new followers for when it’s all over. I am unsure how effective online markets will be when everyone’s wallets are lighter than usual. The ability to post stock is likely in jeopardy to. I think waiting it out is the only option to be frank. It doesn’t mean the time is wasted though. Next week (because we will definitely still be in this by then) I will focus on tips for ways to spend your time to enhance your art career when no commissions are coming in.
Stay safe, stay home and don’t buy all the loo roll!