A little D.I.Y. never hurt anybody.

Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys didn’t wait for anyone’s permission.

Guess what. There’s no money.

 

Funding for the arts is important. Without it, even institutions will close. The Jacobs Gallery knows this. What kills me is the way artists seem to be unaware of their own ability to do things themselves. All the great moments in history and art were because someone didn’t wait for permission or a handout. They just figured it out for themselves.

 

If you’re an artist, instead of crying about the lack of funding for the arts, maybe try the following:

 

  1. Begin assuming you have no money and no venue, and decide to put on a show anyway. Assume nothing, expect nothing. Invite your friends. Do it in an alley, or your living room.
  2. Talk to people about your work. Encourage criticism of your work. Then learn to defend your decisions.
  3. Pick some work that is affordable to sell (as opposed to making work to sell – that’s a bass-ackwards way to make art) and use a credit card reader (Like Square or Paypal) for your phone to take payments. It only makes it easier for you to make money.
  4. Determine prices of the more expensive works for yourself, ahead of time, as a personal reference. Price them like you mean business, and actively push the work to sell when an opportunity arises, even if it might seem unlikely. The point is to own what you do because you love doing it. Not because you have had some sort of credibility dropped on you from above. You probably don’t want to be a part of the national/international art market anyway.
  5. Don’t act like selling yourself is beneath you, and assume you won’t get “discovered”.  Make yourself known. Eugene isn’t New York or San Francisco (they have problems of their own).
  6. Get everyone’s email address, and tell them you’ll only use it for good, not evil. Tell them when you have made some new work, and when they can come see it.
  7. (Upon review, I failed to add number 7, so this is an update) Work hard at making the most honest work you can. Don’t worry about the rest.

 

It’s actually possible to make it so there ISN’T a night you can’t go see art. There are loads of artists in this city, and loads of people who like all kinds of art. They just need a personal invitation. Invite your friends and family. Ask them all to bring a bottle of wine. You just have to decide to not to wait for someone else to pay for it to happen. You don’t need an institution, or a business partnership. You need to make good work, and tell people about it when it’s done.

 

Courtney Stubbert, Chief DIYer, ECA

UPDATE: The Eugene Weekly asked me to expand this post for an op-ed piece to be released on 11/12/15.

Read the expanded article here.