Welcome to Artist Stories!
Despite the flippancy with which starving artist mythology is handled, creative people are legitimately at risk for many social issues. For example, did you know that there are more uninsured artists than there are among people in the general population?
We creative people need to combine our efforts and creative gifts to develop sustainable art careers. By posting our written works and short videos that detail our stories, we can create awareness about what it really means to live a creative life. Read more about the ways that the public can use these stories to create such awareness.
While, as a society, we demand the arts in our lives (from paintings to theater to poetry to music to hand made products and more), we have not established that artists are to be paid fair wages and given basic benefits like health insurance, retirement, and time off. In other words, we want the goods but do not want to pay for them.
This site is for artists of all kinds — of any genre or medium — and is not limited to the visual arts.
1. Email me your story — written or video. If you need help with editing, I am happy to work with you. There is no word limit. Use your best judgement, remembering that readers tend to do better with articles 250-600 words than very long pieces on the Internet, but I’d rather you submit a longer piece and I work with you on editing than you leave important information out of your story. You can also send in a video through a public or unlisted YouTube link that will be embedded in this website. Keep the videos to about between 2-5 minutes. I know this seems like a short amount of time to fit in a lot of important information, but the attention span of average video watchers is limited to just a few minutes. Less is okay as long as the message is clear.
Send emails to jrowartist at gmail dot com and I will upload your story to this website. Each person will be linked to their own individual page (See: Artist Stories Library for examples).
2. The story should address the social issues that you face as an artist. Here are some examples of what could be addressed in your story:
- Why don’t you just get a “real” job?
- Does your day job take away from your ability to fully pursue an artistic career?
- Do you have absurd work-related stories? What have you had to endure just to make ends meet as an artist? Crazy bosses? Unfair or unhealthy working conditions?
- Do you have health insurance?
- What happens when you need to see a doctor? Do you have any tales of woe regarding being unable to afford health care?
- Forget about living pay check to pay check; do you know how you are going to pay your rent from month to month?
- Can you identify with the phrase feast or famine?
- How does living a creative life impact your stress levels, emotional experience, and/or mental health?
- How does your income impact your nutrition?
- Do you live in questionable housing conditions due to your artistic vocation?
- Do you have more than one day job?
- Do you have stable employment?
- Do you work as an adjunct? Maybe in more than one location? Maybe the work is seasonal and without benefits?
- What are the challenges of working full-time and still trying to pursue a creative career?
- What does it take for you to make money from your art?
- Have you tried to get your “foot in the door” of the art world by taking on unpaid or low-paying internships?
- Are you delaying having children because you don’t have the means to raise a family and pursue a creative career?
- How has your race, ethnicity, or culture impacted your creative career?
- What about gender?
- Are student loans ruining your life?
- What do you have to do to afford studio space or other art-related expenses?
- Do you have zero retirement benefits because of the nature of your career?
- Have you given up on artistic dreams because of these challenges and how has that impacted you?
- Other issues not mentioned here
3. These stories can be simple, or they can be works of art. The videos be done on webcams, smart phones, or on actual video cameras. But most importantly, your stories should be clear, organized, and easy to follow.
4. If you would like to remain anonymous for any reason, keep that in mind, especially if you are making a video. You can still tell your story without revealing your identity. Think of yourself as an art world super hero!
5. In all submissions, please include your name/pseudonym, bio, website (if applicable), contact information, and location. I can also include examples of your work if you send me photos.
Rolling. Please email jrowartist at gmail dot com if you are interested in submitting.
Please share this call for stories widely! The more stories we post, the louder our collective voice.
Artist Stories is run by JRow, a New York City-based artist. She is also an LMSW (social worker) who has been working on arts advocacy issues for several years. You can learn more about her art and other online community-based projects by visiting jrowart dot com.