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Some Practical Questions – by Robert Genn

Some Practical Questions - by Robert Genn

Yesterday, an artist of St. Paul, Minnesota, asked some practical questions. Thanks for these, fellow artist.

(Q) Do you budget or monitor your costs and labor?
(A) I don't budget--perhaps I should. I like to be oblivious of costs and I certainly don't keep track of time spent on given works. My assistant is responsible where I am not. While art materials are relatively minor, larger items like buildings, travel and transportation are monitored. Like a self-employed farmer, practically everything, including the dog, is either deductible or depreciable.

(Q) Do you divide work into profitable and not so profitable? Do you do some work just for joy?
(A) I'm one of those artists whose regular work is done for joy anyway, but there are many sketches, experimental figurative work and playful abstractions that may be just given away. They offer a different kind of profit.

(Q) Do you make your income more on teaching workshops, or have other diversification?
(A) By far my main income comes from my paintings. I do occasional workshops as a change of pace, the need to find out what I think, and for the joy of seeing others flourish. Painter's Keys does not make a profit. I subsidize my twice-weekly habit with my painting.

(Q) Do you have health insurance and how do you pay for it?
(A) In Canada, health insurance is universal and relatively inexpensive. We pay about $300 every three months and this covers doctor visits and most hospital procedures. While I'm on a first name basis with an excellent doctor, I'm not using him much. Apparently, most health care money is burned up in the last fifteen days when the doctors are trying to keep you alive--which makes me think Jack Kavorkian had the right idea. I think when I definitely can't paint anymore I'll pull the plug.

(Q) Do you have any financial plans for retirement income?
(A) When I was quite young I started saving a small amount every month from my painting sales. I also contributed to a tax-protected savings plan (RRSP or 401k) which has now grown significantly. At age 75 I'm still painting and I don't often need any of the invested money. On the other hand, collectors are including my paintings in their retirement plans.

Best regards,


PS: Dealer to artist: "I've got some good news and some bad news. A guy came in here and bought ten of your paintings."
Artist: "What's the bad news?"
Dealer: "He's your doctor."

Esoterica: If I had to do it all over again I'd have kept better track of my work (photographic archiving and record keeping, particularly names of places and people) and I'd have focused more and taken wiser notice of my environment, particularly when I was in my twenties. I'd have worked harder, earlier, to balance the three prongs of my painting activities--working from my own reference material, working on location in the field, and making things up from my mind. I'd have been more supportive of others as well. FYI, we've put some of Linda Lee Nelson's work at the top of the current clickback.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of Robert's artistic insight, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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