(I am not allowed to tell you his secret sauce ingredient, but will say this.... it is bizarre, and oh so tasty!)
It isn't for lack of ambition. Artists tend to work hard. I'm not a slacker and I doubt anyone who knows me would say otherwise. I am grateful for all that I have and recognize that by many people's standards in this world, I am "rich". I have a roof over my head, food on the table, medical care when needed, and the usual North American material gadgets: car, TV, stereo, kayak, furniture, etc.
I work a full-time job which (usually) covers basic necessities and bills and though I am not selling my works (yet!) for thousands of dollars a piece, I do rely on the income I make from my art to cover the expenses of living in mainstream society.
Still, if judging by Wikipedia definition, Chris and I both fall under the category of "starving artist". We struggle financially and have to make choices everyday with where the limited income is to be spent. Most purchases require some sort of deep-thought or explanation. Our house could use some major repairs, we share one car, don't subscribe to expensive cable channels, and a bulk of our clothing is purchased through Goodwill. We don't travel, except to see family, and have no major electronic "toys" like Blackberries or fancy cell-phones. We rarely go to the movies or other events that require a ticket fee. When something breaks, it isn't a given that we can replace it. Simple things that others sometimes take for granted aren't on our list of possibilities.
In the whole scheme of things, though, our sacrifices are tiny. Nonetheless, we do make sacrifices everyday for our art.
That being said, we also could not do what we do without major support from those who acknowledge the importance of what we are doing as artists. We have been the fortunate recipients of various benefactors' generosity. Without the help that we have been given along the way, we would not have grown as we have.
My mind is flooding with all the patrons that Chris and I have had over the years. What these generous people and organizations are giving is more than a few dollars to pay a bill. They are helping to fund projects that in turn benefit a mass of people in society. Chris' poetry and novel will inspire many to analyze their own ways of being and aspire to be better people. My artwork hopefully will spark similar thoughts as well as bring joy and meaning to those who own and hold one of my creations.
I was the recipient of a life-changing fellowship that moved my work as a weaver forward. Three years later, I still feel the effects of that gift. We have had family members come to our aid, offer us a home, help with building studio space, and support with our education. As well, I am grateful for every person who visits our shop and for those who have been loyal returning customers over the years.
In turn, I try to give back to community and society by not only creating artwork that might either inspire or awaken to new thought, but by volunteering my time with projects such as Lubec Arts Alive or hosting sessions in the new studio. The patronage we receive has a ripple effect that affects many more than the benefactor probably realizes.
So, thank you to all those folks who have supported us financially or with volunteered time - those who have purchased our work, given us a home, made or bought us food, slipped us a few extra bucks for supplies, paid insurance and taxes, sponsored a building project, vehicle assistance, labored to make our studios more sound and beautiful, photocopied chapbooks, painted walls, fixed our toilet and funded hot water, sponsored travel/lodging to conferences and workshops, published poetry, hooked-up the kiln and lights in barn, hosted readings and gallery showings, landscaped, and to those who have given us incredible emotional support and direction over the years.
Without their support - we would not be where we are today.