This summer, more than most, artists need to economize. They may find themselves with no art fairs, with galleries closed or gone and regular buyers feeling frugal themselves. Unemployment is high and uncertainty is too.
So it’s the perfect time to learn to live and create on the cheap. Follow the lead of model and television star Tyra Banks, who said: “I’m frugal. I’ve always been this way. When I was young, my mom would give me my allowance, and I’d peel off a little each week and have some to spare.”
Create a more independent approach to living by cutting your spending – and increasing your future possibilities. Here’s some ideas for emerging artists:
Develop a frugal outlook. Some people grow up with this, following their mom or aunt to yard sales. Others must work to ingrain a make the most with the least mindset in their lives and creative practices. Start with a living life large on the cheap mantra, or borrow mine: “I live an abundant life on a modest paycheck.”
Get creative. Reuse items in your art. Develop a mixed media series glued and painted on old cookie sheets. Or concoct a project using blueprints as the backdrop. Create a list of possible materials: Old windows and doors work well as canvases to paint and some artists create on records or books. Sculptors may remake old metal shelves or rakes and shovels.
Find joy in the journey. Your approach to frugality should make it fun or an adventure. Create a “cheapskate challenge” with your siblings or friends. Plant peppers or potatoes or find one of the many free food handouts that are all around these days. Plan dinner with four friends at home instead of heading to a bar or restaurant. Log how many days you go without buying anything online, and celebrate when you hit 30.
Find it for free on Craigslist and Nextdoor. Search in a few areas, starting in the “free” section. Then look for garage sales, gigs and other items for sale. If you are really looking for something specific, consider placing an ad as a way to land what you need. Be clear that your budget is tiny.
Shop garage and estate sales. You will find plentiful options in the summer and fall. Head to estatesales.net or download a garage sale locator app to identify where you’re going. Look for multi-family sales or church sales for a wider array of items. We recommend showing on on the final day, when prices are discounted by 50 to 75 percent.
Find flea markets and junk yards. Grab your mask and gloves and go after some real bargains. But don’t buy it just because it’s affordable. Buy it because you need it for your art, your family or your future.
And follow our other tips on smart and affordable paint brushes and materials.