5/28/10

building?

i was lucky that a few years ago when i was making art i still had some savings, lived rent free as i care took in a home and the economy hadn't dived into the ditch. plus i was actually making money selling art!  all of that has changed.  my $$ tank is on E.  i've moved and have rejoined the renters world and my art is taking longer to sell in this economy and new surroundings.  the obvious answer is a real job (we all know art isn't a real job right).  so i have my new part time job cleaning vacated apartments which i should be grateful for seeing as there aren't many jobs i can find let alone perform.  i still need help understanding how i will ever get anywhere.  i have no energy to make art right after cleaning and if all i do is work, i think if i'm lucky in a year or two i could have money saved and make art again full time.  i dont see myself living like that.  i just dont. i'm not that patient and i go nuts if i dont make art.

it's been a possibility since we moved here that we would scoop up a remaining plot of land for $8,500.  thats right, not 85,000 but eight thousand, and build our own house.  since we came here to work/volunteer, get involved with the phoenix commotion dan has offered this land to us.  it's taken us nearly seven months to figure out if we want to do it, if we CAN do it and if we should do it.  it seems daunting and exciting.  right now some other people from the phoenix commotion are just now starting to build on the plot next to where we would.  a mom and a son.  he is out there in 95 degree humid weather digging holes in the ground by hand.  i wonder if i can do that.  the good news is we would have help, there are always volunteers coming and going willing to work hard just to learn and get experience.  technically we could build this in 6 months if we hauled ass. 

the miracle of it all is that tod went to the bank and we actually have a CHANCE at getting a loan.  i guess this is one case of where poverty is useful.  the whole point of the dan phillips houses are to aide poor people in getting their own home.  with tod's remaining savings and current min. wage job for dan, and my scanty art sales and now cleaning income, we have a good chance of getting the 30-35K loan we need.  thats all we need.  that buys the land and whatever supplies/mentoring time we are going to need.  much of the material for our 450-550 sq foot print will be free, offered via donations to the phoenix commotion, plus whatever we find ourselves through the re-store (which is run by the habitat for humanity).  we probably aren't going to make this a typical looking dan house...none of the mosaic and all the whistles and bells.  we need a frickin house up YESTERDAY.  if we can get in there, the payments will be, with tax, under $400.  that is $200 EACH.  we are good at not wasting energy, our last energy bill was $26 and we are in a 900 sq foot apartment.  i know we can do this if we can do this.  tod knows it too. right off the bat we wont be able to build a studio for me so i kind of feel like i'm going to stop being an artist and disappear but tod assures me we will find a way somehow.  the goal is get it up and done and move in and cut costs.  we will live in a tiny house, hopefully two stories, but it will be ours.  hopefully after that is done we get another loan for under 10K from our equity and build an art studio.  we dont want grass/landscaping and would have just enough room on this small plot to build a place for me to work.  it is unimaginable not having studio space or making art but the way it is now life as we know it can't go on much longer if we dont make some drastic changes.  if we DONT do this the alternative is move to another smaller apartment and i wont have space anyhow so why not go for it and have an affordable mortgage instead of pissing away rent?  moving to another city where there are more jobs would just mean working all the time to pay for rent forget about space and time to work on art.  i'm not NOT going to make art and survive.  i'm just not.  but realistically speaking, i don't really know what i am or am not going do to.  no one does.

i am open to any suggestions anyone has per a creative way to get art selling online to help procure $$ for this venture. it's not 100% we are getting the loan but the more money we can come up with now the better.  as it is we need to have 20% up front which tod has in savings but i want to be half owner with tod and need to come up with $4000. i say 'we' can get the loan and 'we' can do this but unless i can pay for at least half of the land i'm really just along for the ride and will have no ownership.   he needs my income to secure this loan. seeing as our mortage wouldn't start until we were done building and moved in, it feels like a once in a lifetime chance here to get a leg up and not be in the rent ratrace forever.  i really want to do this and gain some independence once and for all.  the cost of living is so low here, once we move in and lower our bills i know i would have time for art even if i had to work a part time job.  feels exciting to think of eventually having my own studio and living next to a few other artists.  an artist already lives across the street in a phoenix commotion house, and those people who just started building are both artists too.  it could be a really cool little supportive community and a good enzyme for huntsville! 

17 comments:

sarala said...

What an opportunity. I hope it works out for you.
I doubt I have many ideas for you as to more venues to sell things but I'll let you know if I do.
I'm rooting for you both.

Kim Hambric said...

This sounds like a very good plan. Small piece of land. Small building. Small community of like-minded artists.

What about small art. Like the vast majority of artists, I can rarely afford to buy the art of others. Unless it is something small. Or a print, and I'm not really into the print thing.

Your wood assemblages might sell on Etsy. Or other small abstract assemblages.

I'm sure lots of your blogging friends would be happy to get the word out about affordable Paula Art pieces that would put you closer to buying this property.

A lot of drops in a bucket can add up to a big drink of water.

paula said...

thanks shara!
kim...yes thats a good idea and i'm not into big art right now anyways. dont want to break up that 62 piece wood assemblage but maybe i could try to make more and see what happens. guess my 120-150 clocks are too much still for some and not everyone wants one of a kind vases made out of found pipe.
i'd sell shares, if i could get 10 people to commit to $400 and within the year buy something when/if they saw what they liked that would be cool but i'm always afraid someone (me,them) will die and it will be a mess.
thanks for the encouragement...having a goal with a means to an end helps my mental state, i think this house thing could be good now that i'm finallyh talked into it by tod.

Cynthia said...

Paula -- I already commented on facebook but this is so important I am compelled to comment again! This is an incredible opportunity that you wouldn't get anywhere else! The incredible low cost; the free supplies; the Dan mentoring; the volunteers! It's awesome!

I totally agree with Kim. I buy stuff regularly but rarely over $20, and there has to be a lot of people like that. (Poor, with good taste.) Make some more of those wood pieces and get them on Etsy -- or locally at LWG or the Wynne or wherever. Start making them for the December show!

This is so exciting!

paula said...

thank you for your enthusiasm cynthia!! one tiny problem is i need the money soon, and if i sell $20 things to make 4000 i need to make 200 things. i can't make that in 2 years let alone 2 months!!!

you are right, its a great opportunity. i just need to find a way to make it work. tod talked to a loan officer who has done many of these dan houses in the past and they are pickier now as they have had a lot of problems with people not paying. we are in better shape well TOD IS cuz he has money saved but it isn't enough. paula needs to help and soon. we can't get the loan til we have the 20% down.
i'm making more vases...trying inbetween cleaning to get it together over here in this heat and mess!!!!!
ps you'd love it if i stayed here wouldn't you...i too will be saying 20 years later what you said to me when i first met you :)
thanks woman for the boost.
xoxo
p

Tracy said...

Yep, you have to do this! It is a great opportunity, provided you are ok with living in all that freaking heat, but whatever;))

Kim, is right, smaller items that cost less, and I think you could go up to $100 and it would still be an impulse buy. And even better if it is something useful; small desk clocks, boxes etc., like much of your work is. I guess the key is to find a deceptively easy way to crank some things out so you can make some money at it.
I used to make handmade clocks, picture frames, mirrors, etc and sold them to gift shops, my best deal was getting a mirror into a mail order catalog and then I had to make hundreds of them. All by hand;) The one of a kind thing was the main appeal. That might be a good avenue for you to look at, although I am not sure what is going on out there with all of that anymore.

And I will keep my eyes open for some venues for ya. Oh! Check out Sundance , they sell one of a kind, limited editions stuff all the time!

paula said...

thanks for the link tracy and suggestions ideas. i'm realizing i mostly need to sell what i already have made. i know i can't crank stuff out, i have so much crap here in this small space i can't even walk. right now and its too frickin hot most of the time to be out in the parking lot working. i gotta push what i gots. i'm imagining if i sold enough stuff that is already made i'd be so busy with cleaning apartments and shipping stuff and making house plans for the city to approve my head would burst as it is!

ArtPropelled said...

Sounds like a fantastic opportunity Paula. Did you say a while back that you had a lot of ready made pieces in storage? Could you reduce the prices to sell them quickly?

paula said...

robyn, everything on my paulaart.com site is for sale. i have tried (desperate) measures before to move art (for this move case in point to texas) and could only sell a few stand alone laminated prints on etsy for so low i lost money after i took in account the print fees/lamination fees). needless to say i still owe tod 3K for all of that!
not sure a fire sale will move those mixed media assemblages. clocks is what is left and i've fussed with the prices and it never helped. i hope i dont sound rigid.

andrea said...

Oh my. This is great. I'll think about it a bit and let you know if I have any ideas. If I had a little gallery attached to a stand-alone studio I'd *so* want your stuff in it! But that's just one of my many pipe dreams. If you do find a way to finance it, you have to consider subscribing to a couple of the small house blogs and see all the hundreds of ways people create/build small homes that work.

paula said...

yeah, we should ALL have little galleries and studios and worlds to help support each other. sigh.
well andrea if we do do this we have to build it the phoenix commotion way i think. we dont have the time/luxury/money to do more than just get it up and move in. i would LOVE to have solar this and that and be off the grid but again, its all too expensive. tod says one day we will buy one of those homes already made and not worry about it for now this is just to keep us out of the rat race.
i gotta draw up some pseudo plans so we can present to dan and he can give a bid on costs and then we know where we stand with a bank loan.
and make small art in numerous sums for the world to buy and clean apartments...oh thats why is 4am and i'm up!

Angela Recada said...

I really hope this all works out for you and Tod, Paula. It sounds like such a terrific project and community.

I really love the assemblages you're doing with the redwood scraps you're finding, too. It's such beautiful wood, and I'm so happy to see the scraps put to such inventive and attractive use.

Thanks, too, for all the love and support! and the link to "Mother."
:0)
xo

paula said...

thanks angela it's all up to the $$ gods!
your welcome for the love and support ;)

Ellen said...

I'm so sending good prosperous vibes your way. What a fantastic opportunity. I want it to happen for you! You'll probably disagree with me, (because I think I've said it before and you did:) but I REALLY think you should try a half off sale on your clocks.(has to be at least 50%, psychologically that's what will entice people). The half off sale was really successful online for a few artists we know and another artist I know. You said before it wouldn't be fair to people who bought a clock at the full price, but speaking as someone who did, it wouldn't bother me at all. And it shouldn't bother anyone else. Worth thinking about...

paula said...

well elle...i always appreciate feedback. i always think about it, listen...etc.
for a 150 or 175 clock, 50% off minus the welding costs and clock costs not to mention anything else (wire, bolts/paint time and gas to drive around to get/find the materials, i would make $40. i can't justify it all to sell even 10 clocks. i'd make more standing on the highway with a sign! i would take offers on my mixed media pieces and have offered that in the past and got zero interest. i'm not so sought after, me thinks.
i hope it happens for me to if i have to write a blank credit card check so be it.

Ellen said...

I hear ya. This art biz is a tough go. And there's some guy selling clocks made from scrap metal on Etsy for $45. Some people just want a sale and don't care about being serious and trying to make money from it. Devalues the rest of us:(

paula said...

you are right...and that $45 clock on etsy..is it a limited edition collection never to be made again? probably not. i'd like to think i'm not oblivious to everything though, like if i hadn't already sold half of what i've made i'd have to seriously consider a change in something. i am glad you piped in about this and i'm still trying to figure out how to move some art NOW.