An artist never tries to play the card that his studio work is in jeopardy, for fear of scaring off followers. But I think, and hope, that those who follow artists, also know how precarious their lives are, and their struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Many of you faithfully keep up with my journal entries and I trust that they have been informative, hopeful, and that the artwork speaks for itself.
But for the last 5 months, I've been trying to make that next move in my working retirement as a full time artist, where I could find more affordable housing for my son and I on Vancouver Island, and implement my business plan with an improved studio and work space. The plan also included housing and space for my disabled son to continue with his music. Housing in the Mainland is simply impossible for an artist, or two.
But in the end, my endeavours with my current mortgage lender, has gone from bad to worse, and it has basically slammed the door in my face and called in question my integrity. Yes I've made mistakes but I'm not an expert in banking and real estate dealings and depend on the advice given to me. One key factor, which I wasn't aware of, is that federal legislation 4 years ago makes it practically impossible for mortgage approvals for self-employed artists. Thank you government bodies!
So with 34 days remaining before my son and I become homeless, and my ability of buying another home for us is in question, I am under extreme stress. Stressed about having to pack out with no option on the horizon, and stressed about my ability to maintain a studio. Everything that I've invested in since 2013 is all under threat, including the remaining body of work being exhibited.
I had hoped that once the exhibits started in 2015, that there would be sufficient sales to keep me in the studio, and continuing on the body of work. 2015 did work well enough overall thanks a few painting sales and a few major icon commissions, although none of it supports my efforts with a lender. But the sales for the Journeying With The Totems series haven't been adequate to keep in the studio. During my first 2015 exhibition, I'd been reassured that my price range was considered at the lower range of the Vancouver market, given the quality of the work, the time required for each piece, and the high cost of maintaining a studio. A few have asked recently if I had prints and one person from outside of BC said that some of their contacts said my prices were too high. Prints are expensive to do and you end up with stock remaining on hand. With a series of 20+ pieces, which do you prints of? For the series itself, I've tried to keep pricing reasonable, factoring in that I can't undercut the galleries who take their commissions, my actual costs and overhead costs for working full time in my studio, and a reasonable pre-tax hourly rate for my hours put within each piece.
Given the train wreck that I find myself in with banking, mortgage brokers, and housing/studio concerns, I've had to add a Special 15% Discount offer for paintings purchased during the current Mission Exhibition. This artist needs some sales to see himself and his son through to our next home, even though the net sale becomes almost 1/2 less then the regular listed price. Better to have some sales now, rather then none. I've done great sales offers on my website along the way but it is difficult for people to get a clear feeling of each painting through photographs, to have a comfort zone that they know what they are purchasing. At least during an exhibition, people are in front of the actual paintings and reacting to them. Better to offer them a discount then if there is one (or a few) that they really like.
It is hard living on the edge like this. But this is the reality for many of us artists. Very few of us get to have beautiful large studios, and galleries supporting our work. And we rarely qualify for grants from Arts granting bodies. It always takes money to make money. But when you don't have it, it is a struggle. Here is one artist who is on that ledge where I may or may not be able to continue maintaining my studio. As an artist finally following his passion full time, and producing an important body of work, that would break my spirit.
But I have to continue in the struggle and depend on your support. It would really be great to hear from you though the Contact Form, and to hear your thoughts. Moral support goes a long way for an artist, as do recommendations.
Bless you all.
Andre Prevost, began his work in theatre in the late 70s after completing his studies at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and in his iconography in 1980, and having a large body of work in each. He has since been based in Western Canada; North Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and now back on the West Coast.