Three cheers for artists with no backup income


HEYDEN – Art pieces are a luxury item at any time, but when the economy is floundering most people look and wait.

If one’s job security is uncertain or a layoff has occurred, art purchases are no longer a commodity that can be sustained. It may go to the wish list or drop off the radar altogether.

Disposable income is what people use to buy things that they must do without if there is only enough money to pay for the necessities every month.

That is not good news for artists who set up for shows throughout the year. Having many shows under my belt, I find what works best is having a range of products available that go from inexpensive to pricey.

I make myself open for commissions if asked, trying very hard to deliver what the customer wants when they want it and within the price they are willing to pay.

But sometimes that is just not enough and we artists just have to roll with the punches and hard knocks. It is nice to sell your creations and bring in some revenue to cover cost of supplies, but it is not always what happens.

Most artists have another source of income, whether it be a retiree pension, government pension, or wages from their regular job, so this softens the fall.

To those few who depend entirely on sales of their work in order to survive, my hat goes off to you. I could not do it simply because I have always needed the security of knowing I have a steady flow of funds to keep me in the black.

My father thought he’d save me from the possibility of living on the edge by refusing to fund my dream of attending the Ontario College of Art and Design, an institution that accepted my application but did not received the monetary requirements to educate me.

He refused and I went into nursing instead and, as a result, have had a rewarding career in health care. My art is subsidized by my pension and the wages I continue to earn as a casual nurse.

Unfortunately, my father only saw the “starving artist” part of it all, when, in essence, a degree or diploma from OCAD could have enabled me to continue on, or branch into teaching, entrepreneurship or a career in the arts.

But that’s all water under the bridge and I have no regrets, I love participating in various art shows in the district, while interacting with the public and the other artists on site.

Each artist, regardless of discipline, puts his or her blood, sweat and tears into work.

In my opinion, that makes it impossible to put a price on something so inherent, intrinsic and inseparable as one’s heart and the art that comes out of it.

Patricia Baker, a semi -retired registered nurse, still enjoys casual employment in ambulatory care at Sault Area Hospital and Sault College’s faculty of nursing as a clinical teacher. As a visual artist, she’s in tune with the healing powers of art.