HOW TO MAKE A GREAT LIVING EARNING $.50/hr – Letter from the trenches / by Bo Gerard

Here’s something every creative artist already knows, so I’m probably preaching to the choir.

Truth is - I earn less per hour than an amusement ride attendant; and yet I make a nice living.  The reason the income and hourly wage have such a strange relationship is because most creative artists put an inordinate amount of work in on every project theywork on.  So much so, that the ultimate fee we earn for the work, after being divided by the number of hours actually worked on the project, probably comes to less than 50 cents/hour.

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The general public is mostly unaware of this fact and probably imagines that our art magically appears to us, fully formed, and ready to present.  Oh, if it were only true!  For example, every year Gretchen and I create a new Summer Reading Program for libraries, and we put in 6 to 10 months of work on it.  That’s 10 months of talking, writing, rewriting, composing, recording, prop building, music track editing and reediting.  Then we rehearse the Dickens out of the show, and sometimes even do a couple of free performances at schools, to tune the show up in front of a live audience before when we do our first paid performance.  And this is just one of the many projects we work on every year.

Like I said, any creative artists reading this are probably nodding their heads in agreement.  So why, then, do we continue putting ourselves through this long, grueling work, when the hourly pay rate works out to be a fraction of what of a part-time bag packer at Kroger’s makes?  It’s because art is not a thing… it is a way.  Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul — and you answer.

And we happen to make a nice living, too