Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday 13 - For Starving Artists

Over the past year or more, my ability to work dwindled slowly, until it ultimately became non-existent. I've had to get very creative with little money, and I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks with you!

1. Volunteer - I know, it doesn't seem to make sense right away. Work for nothing? Yes! This has let me continue enjoying the luxuries I would have had to give up. My YMCA membership? I volunteer for two hours a week and in return my monthly gym fees are waived. Every shift I volunteered at our local Fringe Theatre Festival equaled a ticket I could use at one of the shows. My spot on the volunteer registration team at the conference this weekend, gained me access to my workshops and a snazzy t-shirt. Yes, it feels great to give back to my community, and it also feels really good not to feel limited.

2. Paint samples - I love wandering through the water colour aisle at the art store. Daniel Smith often puts out little swatches with a couple dabs of some very gorgeous colours. Warning - you will want to buy them at some point, they are so lovely.

3. Thrift Stores - Yep, we all know they are great for cheap clothes and housewares, hallowe'en costumes and probably some questionable "vintage" or "retro" items. They are also wonderful for some unique art supplies. That painting no-one in their right mind would buy even though it's been marked down to a dollar? Grab it. You can prime the canvas and re-use it. And repurpose the frame if there is one too. Same goes for funky fabrics and textiles. A shirt you might not wear could become your next journal cover. Curtains into pillow covers, you get the idea.

4. Classifieds Online - craigslist,, etc. I like to keep an eye on these for art supplies that are being given away or sold ridiculously cheap. Moving sales, giving up a failed hobby, all things that I could benefit from. These sites are also great if you want to get attention to classes you are offering. Photo artists, you know how expensive all the equipment is. Buy used! It is still out of my price range, though my sweetie picked up his camera body this way at an incredible price, and is often seeing drooling over the next flash or lens he's waiting to find a good deal on.

5. Clothing swaps - I can honestly say that I have not bought a new, and probably not used, piece of clothing in at least a year. Arranging clothing swaps has been so fun, and women are extremely more friendly and generous in these situations than you would expect. They are also very eye opening when it comes to your own self consciousness. That skinny girl in your group you always compare yourself too, might have larger legs than you. And we all celebrate when something looks fabulous on someone. It's like going shopping with a gaggle of your besties, except the joy you get is from watching an item you love find a better home, not from slashed price tags.

6. Grape Seed Oil - Okay, this is going to sound weird. This yummy and antioxidant laden oil is a fabulous beauty tool. I have used it to effortlessly remove heavy make up from my face, and boy was it soft the next day. I use it to lotion my arms, especially after having them waxed. My esthetician tells me that she also uses it as a lotion and adds a little bit of sugar to it. Yum. I've been meaning to use it make my own salt glow too... 1/2 cup of oil, and a cup of fine sea salt. Seriously, that easy.

7. Beauty schools - There are groups of eager students out there willing to offer you their services at ridiculously low rates. This applies to hair and esthetic schools, massage and chiropractic schools, acupuncture and chinese medicine, you name it. You get the comfort of a salon/clinic, and a watchful supervisor.

8. School notice boards - Same thing. Need a website designed so you can promote your new business? Someone is looking for a real live guinea pig. Students trying to build up their skills or portfolios may offer their services for free, and recent graduates looking to build up their clientele means reduced rates for you. Graphics, marketing, accounting, if it's a service you need, someone is out there training in it right now!

9. Bartering - This gets you into gear, in the motions of "selling" your art work and getting it out into the world. I know an artist who has painted a salon window, and traded an art piece for hair cuts. Maybe your dentist needs his daughter's wedding photographed, and you need the fillings and the practice? Talk openly about your art or services, people are the greatest resource.

10. - There is probably a photography group in your area that could translate into some very affordable marketing for you or your business. At their events, photographers, models and stylists come together to build their portfolios, all at no or low cost. If you are a photographer this means great practice with models and lighting. If you are a clothing or jewelry designer, offer your stuff for a shoot. If you get the permissions, you can use the photos to promote your line. And it will look like you paid a fortune for a professional photographer. Groups could probably also appreciate large art pieces to help change up the background, and practice lighting.

11. Displaying - Some towns have art circles that rotate the art of a group of cafes and restaurants. See if you can get into one. Or, talk to someone at every one that you go into. You might hit on an independent who's desperate to change up their walls. Same goes for business offices. The boring art on your dentist's wall, may be boring to them too and they simply don't know where to look for new material. Perhaps a friend of yours is tired of staring at the Ikea apple triptych in their office lunchroom. Make sure you have wall tags displaying your name, and perhaps a stack of business cards at the counter or nearby. Heck, give framed pieces to all your friends to display in their space at work. I'm sure they would love to talk about the hot new artist the work is from.

12. Groupon - This company is taking the world by storm. Many things I wouldn't be able to afford or experience are offered up at an average of 50% off. The deals come up daily in the city you sign up for, and don't have to be used up immediately. We have tickets sitting at the ready for the Butterfly Gardens. They were half off, which basically meant that my sweetie didn't have to pay for me too.

13. The Dollar Store - What a wonderful place filled with incredibly useful stuff. (Though I try really hard not to think about the small children and families who probably manufacture it, and are the reason the prices are so low). I digress. Yes, it is great for the every day stuff. Did you know you can also find art supplies there too? Tracing paper and sketch paper, paint brushes for gluing, tissue paper for collages. I even picked up a couple of mini canvases at the one near me. You can grab photo boxes and plastic baskets for storing your supplies, or gifting your treasures. Small vases for having at the ready your paint brushes and pencil crayons. And, of course, cheap glasses and mugs you can use to enjoy your wine while you're creating your art. No sweat if they get covered in sticky acrylic finger prints :)

What are your Cheap Tricks?


Emily said...

Ahahaha! Nice dig at the end there;) Seriously, though, I'm on the lookout for the collapsible cup- I know just the kind you were talking about:)

Great ideas, I've used quite a few of those, myself, but love that you put together the best, most resourceful lists! There's always ways to save:)

Pearl said...

repurposing things in the storage boxes.

olive oil instead of lip balm; none of those weird petroleum additives.

one of these days I'll hear about a clothing swap before instead of after...

Mercy said...

Just dropping by to share the linky love. Happy T13!

JO said...

great tips!

Mine's up! Happy T13.

Measi said...

When I was in college (and in the years shortly after), volunteering was my way to save money all over the place. Lots of local places in the 1990s would give out coupons, memberships, etc. for volunteer work.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today - happy T13 to you!

Jodi said...

3, 5.6,7, 12 YES I do all these... LOVE your list!! and not only does it make sense.. is FUN too!!!

I have met the barenaked ladies several times.. one of them is my bFF's husbands good friends... that makes me a bit close to fame.. LOL.. ohhh maybe I should show THEM my blog... LOL!! thanks for the visit and the LONG LEGS comment!! I wish :)

Yvonne said...

What awesome suggestions! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

These are all really inspiring! I love the idea of a clothing swap. A life would be so rich if someone incorporated these exchanges and experiences into it!

Anonymous said...

Oh! Yes, the Pay it Forward folks on facebook are all participating. So I have 5 people to get creative for...and I have yet to start! So I'd hate to promise more people and not be able to deliver...

Cowgirl Red said...

Coconut butter for my skin....all of it. Thrift shops and vintage for fabrics & textiles. Going to try everything on your list. Terah