Mia Flower – Is art worth the investment?

Some of what I draw or create gets lost in the shuffle deep in the recesseses of my studio or sells before I get a chance to publish it to my blog. Mia is an illustration I created last year with india ink and watercolor on Canson paper. The original sold earlier this year with three other large originals, a handmade box of mini prints and a set of four seasons.

It was the largest single sale I ever made on Etsy and the second largest art sale in my life in regards to art sales and prompted the writing of a rather poignant post. The largest I ever made was the sale of the original Grace acrylic painting which sold for $1250CAD.

Art is worth money. It is worth the investment. And I guess that is what you need to think about when you buy art. It’s not something that you’ll likely buy and throw away in a few years. Art is something that by definition of being art should over time gain in monetary value and in the least hold it’s value long after the artist is dead. When you buy art, especially from an artist who is actively creating and alive and more importantly sustaining themselves on their art, you are in fact allowing them to continually learn, hone their skills and perhaps one day earn a living wage from their art because their skills are such that it demands a value higher than minimum wage.

I’ll be turning 36 on November 8th. I always dreampt that one day I wouldn’t need to do graphic design anymore. Sadly, it took falling down to my lowest more than once to realize this dream. I’m far from earning in Canadian Standards a living wage. But I’m getting there.

What does that feel like to earn more than $50,000 a year?

Next year I want to earn $50,000. Scratch that. I want to earn $100,000 Net.

This year will be the first year that I will earn more than poverty level income in years. I can’t count how many years I earned less than $10,000 since graduating college in 1996. I can count how many years I earned more than $20,000 but less than $25,000. TWO.

And I don’t know why Mia made me think of these things. Or maybe it’s because I’m dealing with making large monetary decisions, more than I ever had to in my life. I run two businesses; that of art and that of renting rooms and the housekeeping of those rooms.

A big chunk of money is something that for me, gives my mind rest. It gives me the fuel I need, to recuperate and create anew again. And to be honest I haven’t had a rest in months.

I plan to work my but off until next year and then, hopefully take two weeks too slow my brain down followed by another two weeks which I’ll spend in Brazil or Mexico. No, not Mexico. I want off the continent! I’ve never traveled off the continent.

If I get to earning that much money I will be hiring a bookkeeper. YAY!

I’ve carried a lot of guilt around about earning money. It’s an anxiety; a shame. Something I wrote about the other night but did not publish because it’s one big long run-on sentence. Maybe I’ll publish that secret tomorrow to let it go and move forward.

As an artist or a supporter of the arts how do you feel about an artist earning a living wage? I say a living wage as minimum wage is not a living wage by any Western standard.

Mia is now a beautiful limited edition print available in the shop

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12 thoughts on “Mia Flower – Is art worth the investment?”

  1. oh man, jessica. i feel everything you said here. making money with your art, hoping to quit the graphic design biz in favor of full-time artistic pursuit…running the business end of it all & balancing it with your life. it’s exhausting. but you are doing a great job and the art is only getting better. if small notes of support are any help at all (god, know they are to me), then consider this a vote of confidence in you, your talent and your perseverance. you are a role model to me…..even miles and miles away. you can do it!!

  2. I have quit the graphic design biz only accepting small jobs that in some way are similar to the art I create. I don’t regret the past training or experience from doing those jobs though.

    The notes of support mean a lot. I hold them dear to my heart.

    And yes, it is the balance of finding time to create, run a household with 3 tenants and prepare for my first big show later this month. I all but lost it on the phone with my mom last night. It makes me laugh now how much my anxiety got the better of me over the last few days.

    You can do it to Stephanie! And you are :)

  3. I admire you enormously Jess, and you know that. You have the courage of your convictions, and are willing to take a risk. Despite your misgivings, self doubt and many foibles (from one foibler to another), you persevere. I am terribly proud of you. One thing I don’t want, is for you to be 47 and full of regrets of the time wasted, opporunities and chances not taken and dreams unfullfilled.

    Keep going sweetness, always behind you.


  4. Hey Jess,
    I also admire the decisions that you’ve made. Moving from BC to St-John’s and working full time on your art is no mean feat. I deplore the fact that in our society most artists struggle to make ends meet. That being said, it’s also true of most students, as I have learned over the years.

    I think that getting tenants was a very smart idea. It gives you a basis on which to live off and to pay off your mortgage.

    One of the reasons I went back to school is because I want to better my life. My wife is getting a PhD, I’m getting an M.Sc-PhD. Living in Taiwan has enabled us to live better than students do in Canada. I know, because in 2008, I went back to school in Canada. It wasn’t easy.

    I’m really glad to have nothing to do with the financial sector anymore. I’ve also been making some money by doing freelance blogging. It’s not that much, but it’s not bad. My mother was surprised that I was actually able to make money off my writing already. She’s a published author.

    Anyway, enough about me. More about you. You do create unique art and I believe that you will succeed. The trick is to market your art and to make your art for others, like the children’s book you are working on, instead of creating art as an employee for bigger corporation and other people.

    LOL from Taipei

  5. First, I love that you chose to name your flower “Mia”, as that is my daughter’s name. I never thought much about it, but it was a smart move to give creations a human name that people can identify with. More tempting for buyers… LOL

    Secondly, there are so many people who love you and love your work… people who would buy your work with money they can’t afford, and risk starving, so that you wouldn’t need to starve yourself.
    I’ve been feeling like “art is a tough sell” in these times, because people are making difficult financial choices, and art isn’t something they feel they NEED to own. Not like clothing, food, and shelter…. but technically people do need art. Because art speaks to their emotions and makes them happy.
    It’s all well and good to put food in your mouth, to keep from starving, and keep the old roof repaired, so you won’t die from exposure this winter. But what are we trying to live for, if bills and leaks are all we have to look forward to? People do need artwork in their homes; something that speaks to them personally, and provides them with inspiration, hope, or in my case, just a few moments of laughter.

    What you do, creating art that speaks to people, is akin to therapy… and you know those therapists make upwards of $150 an hour. đŸ˜‰

    Take care of yourself,
    – Tara

  6. Jessica, thanks for writing this post. I appreciate your honesty. I always have such a hard time with the money part of art making. Thinking about it or having to worry about it can really zap my creativity and joy in creating. It really frustrates me. I always want to create from my heart and soul, but that can be hampered by money through either lack of supplies, spending so much time on marketing, or hearing that nagging voice that says, “what should I make that will sell the best?” (because I need money) Whenever I’ve based any art decision on that, the art does not make me happy. It lacks life. Oh, it’s a tricky tricky balance. Perhaps a well funded artist has the freedom for more creativity…..but perhaps that artist could also just become a robot, pumping out what they know will sell. I know not everyone is like this, but when it’s all said and done, the personal fulfillment and passion for what I’m doing is really important.

  7. Hi Jessica, thanks for popping by my blog today. Happy Birthday to you early! Not mine…my mom in laws….she turned 80 today. We are a family of artists….totally understand your angst and your hopes. I would love to live off my art…someday. I almost did for awhile….but life changed. I still have strong hopes to get there again and surpass my earlier efforts. You’re younger, you have an amazing talent and I think, you will succeed. Working your butt off is what it takes! Birthday hugs to you, k

  8. Lorrie – I admire you to. Don’t have regrets hun just keep going and your dreams will be upon you before you know it. xo

    range – yes. having school debt in Canada wasn’t fun. It made most of my 20’s a living financial nightmare. It wasn’t until recently that I dug myself out of it. so happy to hear that you are finding solace in your working life. And what blogs are you writing for? Would love to check them out?

    TaraFly – $150 an hour for an art therapist? Hmmm maybe i need to return to university and get an art therapy degree đŸ˜‰ Yes, I agree to, without fun, entertainment or art in one’s life it does become drab and unbearable if all we live for is paying the bills on time. And the latter is important but so is happiness.

    Alisha – you said it so succinctly. Finding the balance is the struggle and finding the inspiration is the result of maybe finding the balance… At the moment I’m trying to use my current art supplies as buying new supplies is not an option at the moment.

    Kimberly – Happy Bday to your aunt! Good luck with your dreams and thank you for the early Bday wishes :) Yes, life changes. the only thing in my life that has been constant through it all was the creation of art. I hope it sticks around for another 36 years or so.

  9. Jessica you are a true warrior! Funny that TaraFly mentioned the fact that us other pretty broke people still splurge on your art to support and collect. I feel I NEED to once in a while. It is great to spend money on something we know we will most probably have forever and be able to pass it on for generations. It is sad having to deal with just a living wage, but in the end, it is all about following the path of the heart. A lot people make a living wage yet they are not happy with what they do, or even worse, never find the time do do what it is they love because they are so busy trying to survive. So Glory to the struggle of following ones heart! Also, The fact that you have ADHD has been a huge inspiration to me. I am too and it has been tough. I have been wondering and please, if this is too personal no need to reply but do you take meds?

  10. Hi Jessica,

    When your heart won’t let go of an idea, then it is worth pursing.. art is your passion so keep trying, you’ll never know unless you try and sometimes it takes awhile to succeed. My husband is a professional photographer. It is getting harder to make a living from that, as most businesses are cutting corners to increase their profit or just to stay open. They attempt to produce their own photography or hire a young photographer who is wining to cut his or her costs to the bone so they can ‘get their foot in the door’. We live in Ohio, where the economy has taken a big hit – in fact we are the eighth poorest city in the nation. So far we are surviving. With another ten years to go before retirement – we can only ‘hope’ for the best. Passion is what fuels the soul, making life worth living – so hold tight to your passion. You’ll make it : D


  11. Hi Jessica,
    I’ve been an admirer of your art for awhile now too. I originally saw it on etsy and have been following your blog for awhile now. I love your style. I am also an artist, but I’ve been teaching art for 27 years to help support our family. Of course teaching is not a lucrative career either, but it pays more than I would as a full time artist, unfortunately. I think society doesn’t value artists or teachers enough. But I’m sure you will accomplish your goals and I wish you well. Just wanted to let you know that you can count me as a fan!

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