Family support for an artist

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Greg in S. Carolina
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Family support for an artist

Post by Greg in S. Carolina »

Our son is starting to produce reliable income from his art, just not enough. It’s a matter of how fast he can paint. His work is in demand. He is making important connections with various galleries and having shows. The COVID environment makes the challenge even tougher. He also teaches to get by. We are providing monthly support for his rent. I know of artists who relied on their family financially in their early years and became financially independent. I expect that when we pass (now in our early 70s), our 3 children will split over $1 million. It’s not uncommon that some adult children would benefit from “an early inheritance” in smaller amounts when financially challenged rather than getting a significant sum in their 40s or later. (Parents make a gift to a child as a down payment on a home.) I would appreciate any insights especially from individuals who have been in a similar situation. Suggestions that he get a real job are anticipated, so something else would be enlightening.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by JoeRetire »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:09 am Our son is starting to produce reliable income from his art, just not enough.

We are providing monthly support for his rent.
How old is your son? How long has this been going on?

So it seems like you should just keep supplementing the starving artist's income until he can make it on his own.

I haven't done anything like this personally, but I do have friends who help out their musician son hoping for his eventual breakthrough that never happened. Apparently, it's not as cheap to live in Nashville as it used to be.
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Broszy
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Broszy »

My artistic brother is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for studio time, musician time, etc... for his first album. He spread the word on social media and raised a couple thousand from friends and family so far in exchange for future music. Seemed like a good angle to me.
Cigarman
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Cigarman »

Just curious, has he tried extending into the world of limited edition prints that he can sell which would raise his income? The print technology today is such that he can knock them out fairly quickly and sign/number them to increase sales without biting into his time required to create originals.
DarthSage
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by DarthSage »

Well, it's not what you're going to want to hear, but here goes:

My brother is an artist. He sculpts musical instruments of his own design (as opposed to making sculptures, of, say, guitars). He has a following, and is currently listed on Amazon and has a factory in China, I think, that manufactures them in bulk.

Best of my knowledge, he's never really made a living at it. He's always been "one homerun away" from making it big. He survives hand to mouth, on the kindness of others, waiting for his big break. He's also 57, divorced, and his ex-wife provides all support for the children. He expects the world to support him because he's an ARTIST.

I don't think you're doing your son any favors by continuing to support him (financially, I mean--obviously, you're his #1 fans). If you guys are in your 70's, I'm assuming he's approaching 40--he's been an adult for a while now. Also, I wouldn't count on him getting any kind of inheritance from you--things can change. Knock wood that it doesn't happen, but a few years of LTC or need for the Memory unit at a nursing home could really change your financial picture. He would be better served by finding a way to support himself. You're looking for reasons to give him money, and there really aren't any.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by fourwheelcycle »

Greg,

You have not told us anything about your finances except that you expect to leave $1M to your three children. Does that mean you have an extra $1M now, or you have and extra amount that you expect will grow to $1M by the time you die? Let's assume $1M now. You also haven't told us what is in your retirement plan - are all of your living expenses covered by solid income streams like pension, SS, and RMDs, or are you planning on a 5% annual draw from savings with no pension and modest SS? Let's assume your income stream planning is solid. Do you have a $1M cushion in the event one or both of you need long term care at $125K per year for the last ten years of your life? Two to 3 years per person is a more reasonable possibility, but that could be preceded by 4 to 6 years of assisted living at $65K per person per year.

Let's assume you have a good long term care cushion and you have an actual $1M extra today. The next question is how you, your spouse, and your other two children feel about even and timely distribution of inheritances. My wife and I are committed to even and timely distribution of inheritance to our children. We keep track of help we provide and we keep the amounts even within a two or three year time period.

If your other two children do not need help now and are supportive of you helping their artist sibling, you could give your artist son $15K per year now, viewing it as a 5% per year draw on his future inheritance. If he needs more and your current budget can support it, you could give him up to $30K per year now. Either way, if you support the "keep gifts and inheritance to each child equal" approach, you should keep track of the amounts and try to even-up the dollars per child in your ultimate inheritance scheme.
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by AlohaJoe »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:09 am I would appreciate any insights especially from individuals who have been in a similar situation. Suggestions that he get a real job are anticipated, so something else would be enlightening.
I have no personal experience but I have read Beyond the Grave, which is a book written by two experienced estate attorneys who talk about all kinds of complicated situations like this and how easily good intentions can go awry. Their main takeaway for a situation like this was to equalize gifts during your lifetime (i.e. don't wait until you're gone).
I strongly suggest that you make rough equalization while you are alive. If, ten years ago, you gave your daughter $25,000, now is the time to give each of your other children a comparable sum.

If you choose not to equalize during your lifetime, gather your children (and their spouses) and let them learn of your reasons.

[...]

I have learned that equalizing after death simply does not work.
Note that this includes all the money you've already given him over the years. If you just split the $1,000,000 estate equally they will find it unfair.

They point out that children are often keeping a mental scorecard of how much money each of them received over their lives.
One child explained it to me, "My parents must not have loved me as much as my sister. While they were alive, they gave more to my sister than to me.
No doubt estate attorneys see a disproportionate number of bad situations but perceptions of unfairness can destroy sibling relationships and you'll be gone with no way to fix it.
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JPH
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by JPH »

The fact that art is his chosen field is not critical to the decision. People support their children in many ways because they love them and want to help them succeed. It takes a lot of effort that does not occur in the studio to become successful as an artist. If it feels good to write the checks, then keep doing it. When it no longer feels good, then stop. Only he can decide when it is time to stop trying. Only you can decide when the generosity must end.
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aristotelian
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by aristotelian »

I am interested in this thread. My brother fits this profile. He is talented musician and artist who has never had a day job in his life. He lucked out and married a senior legal counsel for a Fortune 500 company. Up to that point, he got by with music gigs supplemented by parental support especially while getting his art degree. My mom really struggled between wanting to support him but also trying to direct him into a career. She never succeeded. He made a film using funds from family and friends that was sold to Netflix but I don't think it had positive ROI. Since they have had kids he has been the primary caretaker, although they also have childcare since they can afford it. If it weren't for the kids I think he would really be struggling with staying productive and having purpose/structure... But being full time parent is a socially acceptable option for women and should be for men.

I am also interested because my teenager identifies as an artist. I can tell he is going to have a tough time with motivation for any kind of office job. An interesting twist is that one of my uncle's died intestate and left his investment accounts to my kids, so my son will be inheriting around $1.5M when he turns 18. Fortunately he is pretty good with money. I think he will be able to pay for college and have enough left over to supplement an artistic lifestyle in perpetuity. I am less concerned about the financial piece than that he simply won't fulfill his dream of getting famous (no matter what we say he is obsessed with being famous).

Incidentally, my wife works part time but also is a part time artist. I supported her to get a degree to get started. It has been great for her mental health but probably will not pay for itself ever.

Unfortunately it seems an artistic lifestyle is really only possible through parental/spousal support. Pretty much all of the artists I know have a breadwinner spouse. Lots of people have the talent to make it but you still need the means. I don't think the"tough love" approach will ever succeed. In OP's case, I would certainly consider some "advance inheritance" and either give the other kids an equal amount or a larger share of their estate.
GmanJeff
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by GmanJeff »

What is the actual question? Whether subsidizing your son's rent is a good idea?

What do your other children think? As others have suggested, disproportionate support to one child over others to indulge a voluntary choice to not be adequately self-supporting is likely to result in ruptured family relationships.

You're defensively anticipating responses describing your son's occupation as "not a real job", but the actual issue is not the specific nature of his employment but the low income he can expect to derive from it. To that extent, it's not much different than if he had chosen any number of other roles which provide little or low income potential in the gig or conventional economies, whether minimum wage-type positions or self-employment of any kind offering a product or service where the market determines value and compensation.

I would not think it helpful to subsidize a lifestyle which is otherwise unaffordable except perhaps for a limited period of time. I'd suggest that most pragmatic and realistic artists and musicians pursue the arts as an avocation, not as a primary career. A very small number of others enjoy solid success, but the majority probably live a very low-income lifestyle or depend on the largesse of family for their support.
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Greg in S. Carolina
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Greg in S. Carolina »

He is 29, been producing art for about 6 or 7 years. Lives in a low cost of living area. Has held various other jobs while painting.
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camillus
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by camillus »

I think this depends a lot more on family dynamics than it does on finances.

Some uncomfortable questions:

1. Why aren't you paying your other kids' rent/mortgages? I'm guessing they also have families and kids themselves and have more actual obligations than the artist. I'm sure they could find a use for that money.

2. Say you pay $1k/mo for his rent. He then raises his income through art by $1k/mo. Will you then stop paying his rent - so net 0 income for him? He's still much farther behind his siblings...

3. Say he spends his "inheritance" early, but never makes it. When you die, your two "self-made" children (who have funded their own retirement) receive $400k each, while the artist receives $100k. How does that feel?

The issue is that you need to balance being hopeful for your child's potential career with being realistic and preventing dependency. Perhaps the best way is to stop paying rent, give him a lump sum of say $20k for him to manage. At the end of that sum, he needs to find his own solutions to his problems. If you are able, you could give each of your other kids $20k at the same time.
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galawdawg
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by galawdawg »

Whether parents should continue to provide financial support for their adult children is a very personal decision. Some parents provide such support to their adult children throughout their lives, some temporarily to give their adult offspring a "leg up" or deal with an unexpected set back.

We've seen on Bogleheads those whose adult children don't live within their own means because their chosen "occupation" doesn't pay the bills, they have a spendthrift lifestyle, they prefer to be a free spirit" and avoid regular employment, they have addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling, or they have lingering effects from divorce or medical setbacks. In some cases, the adult children really need help to make it. In some cases, the parent is simply enabling very poor life choices. And yet in others, parents provide support because they want their adult children to live a lifestyle that is comfortable for the parent or meets the parents expectations of what their adult offspring's standard of living should be.

In your case, your son chose to be an artist which may or may not provide sufficient income to sustain him. Like other jobs with irregular income, it can be feast or famine. I have a friend who sold commercial real estate in Atlanta. When he made a sale, he earned in a single commission more than I would make in two or three years. But rather than invest that money to sustain him between sales, he'd spend it within a few months and then have nothing until the next sale. Does your son understand the concept of living on an irregular income? You haven't shared anything about your son's lifestyle or expenses. Is he sharing a place with roommates, driving an old beater and eating beans and rice? Or is he living a comfortable lifestyle in his own luxury apartment while driving a leased BMW and eating out at nice restaurants four or five nights a week? Only you can assess your son's situation and decide whether and how to support him. Some parents would trust that he is an adult and can make his own "sink or swim" decisions and find a way to support himself while he pursues his art. Others would rather not see him waiting tables in a restaurant to make ends meet. Again, it is a very personal decision.

Best wishes as you sort this out!
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Sandtrap »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:09 am Our son is starting to produce reliable income from his art, just not enough. It’s a matter of how fast he can paint. His work is in demand. He is making important connections with various galleries and having shows. The COVID environment makes the challenge even tougher. He also teaches to get by. We are providing monthly support for his rent. I know of artists who relied on their family financially in their early years and became financially independent. I expect that when we pass (now in our early 70s), our 3 children will split over $1 million. It’s not uncommon that some adult children would benefit from “an early inheritance” in smaller amounts when financially challenged rather than getting a significant sum in their 40s or later. (Parents make a gift to a child as a down payment on a home.) I would appreciate any insights especially from individuals who have been in a similar situation. Suggestions that he get a real job are anticipated, so something else would be enlightening.
Considerations and things to ponder:

1. If you were not financially set, what would you do? Wouldn't it also be of greatest benefit to "adult children" in some ways to not have that "safety net" in the back of their minds to provide a greater impetus toward self reliance and financial independence?

2. Actionably: There are 24 hours in a day. Can a part time job or further education or skills or vocational training provide at least a subsistence (rent/food, living expenses) level of self support such that both avocation and occupation can be pursued. Much like many actors, artists, musicians, etc. (Arnold Schwez. worked in construction when he was not in the gym long before winning Mr. Olympia the lst time).
So. . . can you help fund part time vocational or trade school, something leads directly to employment in a specific thing? Unlike a generic degree or certificate in some ways?

3. True and complete financial independence, let alone prosperity, in the arts, is often found by those who teach as well. IE: Education degree, high school or community college or university art teacher, etc. IE: (Dean Kootz, noted author, was an English School teacher, much like many successful writers that pursued both avocation and occupation).

4. Actionably: There's a certain comfort zone by "having fun" with a hobby and making money on the side (photography, etc). Perhaps it would be good to motivate son to seek concurrent employment that most benefits the pursuit of art as well. One need not be self supporting and financially successful as an artist (any artist or creative field) at the sacrifice of other endeavors. It's not all or nothing. So, find work laying floor tile at off hours 30-40 hours a week, "and" pursue art. Or, apply for a job at the local community college as an art class teacher (academic credentials in hand already. . . went to school, then community college, or university?) Like this.

Why?
Because one day there might not be 1 million split 3 ways for the children. One day there might not be financial support and a safety net. One day there will truly be the need to be financially independent and self reliant with no other choice.

When we give someone a fish a day, they learn to eat as long as we give the fish a day. When we give them a fishing pole and they learn to fish. They will eat forever and become great fisherman.
I hope this is helpful.
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coalcracker
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by coalcracker »

I've taken up the hobbies of woodworking and acrylic painting in the past few years. Good supplies and equipment aren't cheap. And in the hours it took to create my first live-edge wood slab table, I could have earned ~$100k in my day job.

So, I will eventually retire to a life of an artist and hope I don't run out of supplies.
sd323232
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by sd323232 »

i hope not to get much hate for my hard cold truth comment - there is very high chance that you need to be ready to support him for rest of your life.

it is what it is, he is your son, you are responsible for him.
HomeStretch
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by HomeStretch »

If you don’t have a timeline in place to end the support, put a back-up plan in place (such as life insurance on you and spouse) in case there is no estate left to continue the support after your/spouse deaths. Don’t pass the financial burden to the subsidized child’s siblings.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Amazon starts warehouse workers at over $15 an hour. Give him that tip. Likely, it's more than he's pulling in when averaged to per hour. He can be a painter during his time off. If he starts to get a following of buyers who will pay him 6 figures for a painting consistently, then maybe he can do it full time. At the moment, no.
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galawdawg
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by galawdawg »

sd323232 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:58 am it is what it is, he is your adult son, you are no longer responsible for him.
Fixed that for you! :wink:
Shallowpockets
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Shallowpockets »

You say his work is in demand. That he is painting as fast as he can. Does that mean his work is selling? If so, maybe it is time to raise the price of his paintings. Then he can perhaps live on his own financially. An increased price places more value on his painting and in the world of art maybe this causes more demand.
Isn’t it the lot of an artist in life to be poor. Is this what drives the talent? Is his talent driven by money or driven by passion?
How long does an artist need support before he knows he is making it? Maybe give him until 40 years old. He is 27 now. You would think by 40 he would know if there is success. So support him until then.
camden
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by camden »

aristotelian wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:31 am

Unfortunately it seems an artistic lifestyle is really only possible through parental/spousal support.
This sums up the situation of every artist I have ever known.

Millions of people enjoy doing art and a substantial fraction of them firmly believe they have a talent for it that will enable them to make a living from it. A microscopically tiny percentage will be wildly successful and become wealthy. A few will do well enough to make their own living at it. But for the overwhelming majority, it will prove to be a hobby that will never pay the bills. Only time will tell in which category your son will fall; the decision of whether, how much, and for how long you should financially support him is yours alone to make. But you should make that decision fully realizing that the overwhelming odds are that he will either have to find other employment to be self supporting or will be financially dependent on you or someone else indefinitely.
Ping Pong
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Ping Pong »

Fine art painters never "make it." Other creatives, eg musicians, sometimes do. Even world renowned artists live in poverty unless they have family wealth or family income.

People usually only spend a lot of money on paintings if they think they're an investment. For a painter to turn that into a lifetime income, they need to crank out thousands over their lifetime. That doesn't contribute to the scarcity value that investors seek. Also, artists are usually known for a small number of their unique, great ideas. People don't have thousands of unique, great ideas though.

I know a fine artist who is going into research. It turns out that the traits (meticulousness, attention span, etc) that make someone great at art also make them great at being a scientist.
KlangFool
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

My daughter has an art degree. She has a well-paying full-time job editing video for a non-profit organization. But, she is an exception among her fellow art graduates.


Are you interested in supporting your son forever? Or, are you interested in helping your son to be independent? The problem with most of the Artists is they are not commercially minded. They enjoy doing their arts. They are not interested in getting the most money out of their Arts.

So, if you are really interested in helping your son, help your son to be business-minded. Help him to be commercially successful. Supporting him financially may not push him to be business-minded. It helps in the short-term but may not be sustainable in the long-run.

KlangFool
MishkaWorries
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by MishkaWorries »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:38 am He is 29, been producing art for about 6 or 7 years. Lives in a low cost of living area. Has held various other jobs while painting.
This situation happened in my family. The kid now adult is a tremendously gifted guitar player and songwriter. When he was young his family supported him so he could devote 100% of his time to his playing. He was in several bands and made money but never enough to pay the bills let alone plan for the future.

His parents were just as defensive as you. But one day he got his big break. He replaced the guitarist for a band (almost everyone here has heard of). He toured the US with them for a year. The next year his contract wasn't renewed.

He came back home as a minor celebrity in the local music scene but he is still supported by family. Where did the money go? Who knows.

He got a woman pregnant and she refused abortion. Now he has a 9 year old child. He will be fifty this year. He worked part-time at a restaurant and now he's living on unemployment.

His family pays his bills and child support. His family is not wealthy. I don't know his siblings very well but they both work and raise their kids.

So is the Artist an artist or just a spoiled lay about? How do you think his siblings feel?
Last edited by MishkaWorries on Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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iudiehard1
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by iudiehard1 »

Dang Greg, you are taking a bit of a beating here and you even requested to save the “tell your son to get a real job” replies. So, I’ll spare you that given I’m quite sure as a parent you and your spouse worry (as all parents do) about the daily tolls on the children. This is no exception and I’m also sure you have coached your kids on the hardships of life. You are a good man and this is a good question.

We will likely be in the same situation with our son in minor league baseball. I wonder how many here would tell there kid to forgo getting drafted in the #4 round because they won’t make it to the big leagues? Which his chances are TINY. Sure, there is a signing bonus....but every day wasting away in the minor leagues is a day he isn’t thinking or working towards a more traditional career. Sure, his minor league experience will be good if he wants to give private lessons in the future or be a coach, etc.

So here is my advice (using baseball as my backdrop, or a kid going to medical school, etc), I will financially support the “gap” in basic need until the dream is over and life is staring you down with a decision. Baseball is a game of youth, so mother time will bring it to a head and unlike an artist, coaches will be direct with cuts. Artists don’t have a clock, and they don’t have critics that make cuts....but they do have a market. My son has had some outstanding outings on the mound and likely will in the future, but a couple of outings don’t make a career. They make for good memories only if they aren’t sustained into a viable careers. So in your case, I support the gap until a date certain. Support the boy and the dream if your believe in your heart (truly) that a realistic break can occur. But I put a date on the support and in now way would I pass future inheritance to support dreams of today.
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F150HD
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by F150HD »

Our son is starting to produce reliable income from his art, just not enough. It’s a matter of how fast he can paint. His work is in demand. He is making important connections with various galleries and having shows. The COVID environment makes the challenge even tougher. He also teaches to get by.
define 'reliable income'? (how much is he making) He's in a LCOL area....so this is meaningful info (?)

what specifically is he teaching for income? and what does it pay? frequency?

any form of employment beyond teaching? (which we assume is his employment?)

what healthcoverage does he have? is he paying for it? (typically not cheap)

what are his rent/food/utility bills and how are these paid each month?

(not working means not paying into social security either)
KlangFool
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by KlangFool »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:38 am He is 29, been producing art for about 6 or 7 years. Lives in a low cost of living area. Has held various other jobs while painting.
Greg in S. Carolina,

The problem here is if he is on a dead-end road, he has a chance to do something else while he is young. But, by supporting him and not letting him making the tough decision while he is young, he may not be able to change when he is too old.


If you have enough money to support him forever, this may not matter to you. But, if you are not, are you really helping him by supporting him financially now?


KlangFool
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Watty
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Watty »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:09 am I expect that when we pass (now in our early 70s), our 3 children will split over $1 million. .....

We are providing monthly support for his rent.

.....
I would appreciate any insights
It is hard to say much without knowing more of the numbers.

Giving him a few hundred dollars a month is a lot different than paying a couple of thousand dollars a month for studio rental.

You also did not say a lot about your overall financial situation. One scenario to watch out for is that if you support him for years but then you live longer than expected or live in a memory care unit with Alzheimer's for 10 year and you could deplete your money. At that point your other two kids would not only not get any inheritance, but they might need to support you because you gave too much to that kid.

You can play with the numbers but for a couple in their 70s there is something than a 50% chance that one of them will live to be in their 90s and pretty good chance that one of them will live to be 100.

https://www.longevityillustrator.org/

Maybe you have enough that you don't need to worry about that but I would be real cautious about making sure that you are not giving away lots of money that you might end up needing some day.
Thegame14
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Thegame14 »

sorry to say, but either he moves back in with you, or gets a job where he can pay his rent and paints in his free time...I cant see someone painting for 8-10 hours a day anyway...
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JPH
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by JPH »

Most successful artists do a lot more than produce good renderings. There is a lot of self-promotion involved. Teaching classes or workshops is one way. Also art openings at galleries, public lectures, being covered in news stories, judge art competitions, contribute articles to art magazines, etc. I see the same successful artists in my community do these things all the time. You can't depend only on people just seeing the art and liking it.
While the moments do summersaults into eternity | Cling to their coattails and beg them to stay - Townes Van Zandt
edmundspenser
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by edmundspenser »

My daughter at age 24 (now 30) decided to try to be an artist full-time. She returned from a teaching job in Europe and lived with us (house, though smallish, allows for privacy) for a few months. She started very small--doing art markets, selling prints, and so on. She had some work in the newspaper (did not charge) and from that-got a book contract. She is a hustler--markets, prints and books wholesaled to area shops, does "house prints" for private customers and also--through hustling--for real estate agents who give them as gifts. When the pandemic caused her art markets to close, she started making earrings. She also does fine art work, selling original paintings, but does not depend on that. I have a friend with a classical musician daughter who is also a hustler. My daughter has not asked us for money. She started without education debt btw.

Many of her artist friends rely on community support--free rent, the gift of a printer, etc. They do not hustle. One of my colleagues now has her daughter, musician son-in-law, and two small kids living in their small house. Not sure if the musician works very much.

All anecdotal--perhaps the "hustle" is genetic. A lot of success is luck. Every family is different. I have given my kids a fair bit of financial help (husband and I are teachers, so not high income) and education, but they do their parts also.

I have two adult children. Were I to gift the artist money, I would make an equal gift to the other one--a teacher.
snowman
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by snowman »

I enjoy reading these real life, tough situation threads. Problem is they all follow the same script: OP knows the answer but does not want to hear it, gives as little info as possible, does not answer specific questions. Posters trying to offer solutions get frustrated, so the thread gets heated pretty quickly. The wave of support for OP rolls in, acknowledging that this is tough life situation, please be nice to him. OP continues to either not answer specific questions, or will provide snippets of real information only to confuse everyone participating. In the end, thread gets locked.

I hope I am wrong about this one.
stoptothink
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by stoptothink »

DarthSage wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:35 am Well, it's not what you're going to want to hear, but here goes:

My brother is an artist. He sculpts musical instruments of his own design (as opposed to making sculptures, of, say, guitars). He has a following, and is currently listed on Amazon and has a factory in China, I think, that manufactures them in bulk.

Best of my knowledge, he's never really made a living at it. He's always been "one homerun away" from making it big. He survives hand to mouth, on the kindness of others, waiting for his big break. He's also 57, divorced, and his ex-wife provides all support for the children. He expects the world to support him because he's an ARTIST.

I don't think you're doing your son any favors by continuing to support him (financially, I mean--obviously, you're his #1 fans). If you guys are in your 70's, I'm assuming he's approaching 40--he's been an adult for a while now. Also, I wouldn't count on him getting any kind of inheritance from you--things can change. Knock wood that it doesn't happen, but a few years of LTC or need for the Memory unit at a nursing home could really change your financial picture. He would be better served by finding a way to support himself. You're looking for reasons to give him money, and there really aren't any.
My wife comes from a family of artists, she has an aunt and two cousins who are quite well known in our area (two painters, one sculptor) and have their art displayed in some of the most prominent places in our state; none of them have ever made even remotely close to enough to support themselves, but instead have taken on 9-5 jobs the last decade. I have a neighbor in his 40's (with 6 kids) who is in a similar position; he stays at home and paints while his wife is a public school teacher. He has has been less successful than those in wife's family. I saw a recent report that suggested that nearly 50% of those who consider themselves "artists" make <$5k/yr and ~75% make <$10k/yr. If you want to financially support your son for the rest of his life so he can chase his passion, that's great, but realize that's highly likely what you will be doing.
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

edmundspenser wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:16 am My daughter at age 24 (now 30) decided to try to be an artist full-time. She returned from a teaching job in Europe and lived with us (house, though smallish, allows for privacy) for a few months. She started very small--doing art markets, selling prints, and so on. She had some work in the newspaper (did not charge) and from that-got a book contract. She is a hustler--markets, prints and books wholesaled to area shops, does "house prints" for private customers and also--through hustling--for real estate agents who give them as gifts. When the pandemic caused her art markets to close, she started making earrings. She also does fine art work, selling original paintings, but does not depend on that. I have a friend with a classical musician daughter who is also a hustler. My daughter has not asked us for money. She started without education debt btw.

Many of her artist friends rely on community support--free rent, the gift of a printer, etc. They do not hustle. One of my colleagues now has her daughter, musician son-in-law, and two small kids living in their small house. Not sure if the musician works very much.

All anecdotal--perhaps the "hustle" is genetic. A lot of success is luck. Every family is different. I have given my kids a fair bit of financial help (husband and I are teachers, so not high income) and education, but they do their parts also.

I have two adult children. Were I to gift the artist money, I would make an equal gift to the other one--a teacher.
My bold!

About luck, have you ever noticed how luck visits total families? Even multiple generations? Almost seems genetic.

I believe that success many times has less to do with luck, and much to do with what you have called hustle. Don't discount to luck what you have taught to your children. Sounds like your daughter inherited some hustle. :thumbsup :thumbsup

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NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

Based on the replies, it looks like the best path for him is to marry money.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by fourwheelcycle »

Quotes from other posts: "You say his work is in demand. That he is painting as fast as he can. Does that mean his work is selling? If so, maybe it is time to raise the price of his paintings... An increased price places more value on his painting and in the world of art maybe this causes more demand." "Unfortunately it seems an artistic lifestyle is really only possible through parental/spousal support." "This sums up the situation of every artist I have ever known."

I do not think these quotes are accurate.

Ultimately, galleries set the price of an artist's work. If they set the price too high, or if they indulge an artist who believes their work should be priced high, the work will not sell and neither the gallery nor the artist will make enough money to support their expenses.

There are many painters who clear $250 to $1K per painting. This level of income may be adequate and reasonable for beginning painters, painters who have other employment income, and painters whose spouses also work or who have savings from their own earlier careers. There are also many painters who clear $2-3K or more per painting and can very reasonably support themselves with little or no alternative income. You can visit an upscale gallery and see work by established painters who regularly clear $10-20K or more per painting. These painters might easily be on this forum providing advice to the rest of us, if that is how they choose to spend their spare time.
Last edited by fourwheelcycle on Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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F150HD
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by F150HD »

Also worth considering if 'being an artist' is recession proof employment.

Thinking about 2008....that was not pretty. Last March wasn't either (though that was induced by different means)

If I were a young person I'd give this serious thought when deciding which field to enter.

Good luck.
Mike Scott
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Mike Scott »

Art has a long history of being supported by patrons. If you can't afford to be the patron or don't want to be the patron, the artist needs to find another patron or another plan. More specifically, you have choices to make and the artist has choices to make.

One of our "artsy" kids is making pretty good money in commercial art and made an objective choice to do that. Another one is less happy about it, but accidently ended up in business management and is surprisingly good at it even though it is nothing she would have ever imagined doing.
allones
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by allones »

I spent about 15 years as a professional musician in my 20s and early 30s, however I lived an exhausting schedule of working a full-time job during the day and spending nearly every evening and weekend at shows, networking, performing, practicing. Every 2 or so years I had an opportunity to tour which meant quitting the stable job for about a year to be on the road. Then I'd struggle to go back to a traditional employer because of the year-long gap in my resume.

I was eventually able to make music my full-time job that fully covered my bills, but by the time I got there I was totally burnt-out from the hustling and I quit music. The people I know who are able to make a living, and did it sooner, were supported by family in some way. All of them. Sure, there are instances where someone can really get lucky and find success young, but it takes years of networking and exposure to make your own luck.

If I had the means and the time to be fully dedicated to music, I feel certain that I could have put myself in situations that led to success sooner. I think it's incredibly thoughtful that you want to support your son. Even if he never hits it big, you're allowing him to live a life that is meaningful to him.
Isabelle77
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Isabelle77 »

My husband was a semi-successful musician and songwriter in his 20s and early 30s. Had a major label publishing contract for several years that provided a livable income, even without hit songs.

This probably isn't what you want to hear, but he worked at night. He worked at a record label during the day and worked at his music at night. Even when he had a publishing contract. He took vacation days to meet with writers. I'm sure he would have been more prolific had he worked all day long but he didn't feel that we could afford it and he was worried about a long term career. It worked out well, he's successful in marketing and advertising now and makes a great living. He actually quit music by choice and we left Nashville, the politics of it all wore him out after a while.

On the other hand, my cousin is a successful documentary filmmaker. He married an investment banker, so there's always that route. :D
allones
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by allones »

KlangFool wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:34 am The problem with most of the Artists is they are not commercially minded. They enjoy doing their arts. They are not interested in getting the most money out of their Arts.
This statement could not be further from the truth. People who make art without thinking of making money are hobbyists. Anyone who is able to make money and build a business around their art, such as the OPs son, is doing the impossible - squeezing money from products and services people think should be free.

In my experience, earning money as a musician in a time where music is expected to be free was the most intense business bootcamp there was. Any other venture I've done selling things is a cakewalk because customers expect to pay for what they are getting.
WhyNotUs
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by WhyNotUs »

I had a prospective tenet several years ago who was a fine art painter moving to our area for his SO job offer. They were in their early 20's and he was just getting started on his art career. During the interview he shared that he had little financial track record but paid his bills and lived in accord with his income (Plus 1). Out of genuine curiosity I asked how one would become sustainable financially as a fine artist and he proceeded to explain his business plan. Roughly, as I do not recall the details but rather my confidence that his skill and plan would lead to success. He painted a certain number of smaller pieces in a certain price range while be was in X galleries and had X collectors. Once through that, we went to fewer, larger pieces, at higher prices until X galleries (more about type than number) and X collectors. And so forth.

Not only had a great experience with them when they were renters but also became friends and he added a collector (me) and I am delighted by his success.

I mention this as artists often need help on the business side of art and that can be an area of advice or support.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by JoeRetire »

aristotelian wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:31 am Unfortunately it seems an artistic lifestyle is really only possible through parental/spousal support.
I guess depends on the definition of "artistic lifestyle".

I live in a beach community with plenty of artists. Most have jobs to pay the bills but also sell their art. A few no longer need the jobs. They would consider themselves as living an artistic lifestyle, but none have parental/spousal support.
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by KlangFool »

allones wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:24 am
KlangFool wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:34 am The problem with most of the Artists is they are not commercially minded. They enjoy doing their arts. They are not interested in getting the most money out of their Arts.
This statement could not be further from the truth. People who make art without thinking of making money are hobbyists. Anyone who is able to make money and build a business around their art, such as the OPs son, is doing the impossible - squeezing money from products and services people think should be free.

In my experience, earning money as a musician in a time where music is expected to be free was the most intense business bootcamp there was. Any other venture I've done selling things is a cakewalk because customers expect to pay for what they are getting.
allones,


My daughter's fellow Art graduates choose to work at a part-time job and earn subsistence wages in order to spend more time with their Arts. You may think of them as hobbyists. But, they think of their Arts as their real job.

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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by Sandtrap »

fourwheelcycle wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:58 am Quotes from other posts: "You say his work is in demand. That he is painting as fast as he can. Does that mean his work is selling? If so, maybe it is time to raise the price of his paintings... An increased price places more value on his painting and in the world of art maybe this causes more demand." "Unfortunately it seems an artistic lifestyle is really only possible through parental/spousal support." "This sums up the situation of every artist I have ever known."

I do not think these quotes are accurate.

Ultimately, galleries set the price of an artist's work. If they set the price too high, or if they indulge an artist who believes their work should be priced high, the work will not sell and neither the gallery nor the artist will make enough money to support their expenses.

There are many painters who clear $250 to $1K per painting. This level of income may be adequate and reasonable for beginning painters, painters who have other employment income, and painters whose spouses also work or who have savings from their own earlier careers. There are also many painters who clear $2-3K or more painting and can very reasonably support themselves with little or no alternative income. You can visit an upscale gallery and see work by established painters who regularly clear $10-20K or more per painting. These painters might easily be on this forum providing advice to the rest of us, if that is how they choose to spend their spare time.
+1
While working full time and more, and raising a family, DW had her very high end photo imagery at several art galleries across the city for years. Commissions and actual net profit are not as they seem to people not familiar with that world. Markup is tremendous. Artists are the end producers and "flavor of the month".

j :D
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by lessismore22 »

My aunt and uncle tried helping their daughter get her photography/graphic design career off the ground by helping to raise her daughter(their grandchild) at their house. 15 years later the photography business is still nothing more than part-time hobby and granddaughter is now a teenager still living with her grandparents.

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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by JupiterJones »

Greg in S. Carolina wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:09 am Our son is starting to produce reliable income from his art, just not enough. It’s a matter of how fast he can paint. His work is in demand. He is making important connections with various galleries and having shows. The COVID environment makes the challenge even tougher. He also teaches to get by.
Just here to point out that there' nothing wrong with teaching (or any other job) to get by. That's really what the majority of creative artists do anyway. We get a skewed idea of this because we're far more aware of the famous ones who managed to achieve enough success for them to "quit their day job". But that is not the norm. Heck, some of them keep their day jobs even after they've hit it big...
  • Mark Rothko taught art for a large portion of his artistic career
  • Russian composer Alexander Borodin was a physician who just composed music in his spare time
  • The poet William Carlos Williams worked as a pediatric doctor up until his death.
  • Toni Morrison kept her editor's job even as her first several books (including Song of Solomon) were published
  • I don't think Herman Melville never "just wrote"... I believe he always had a day job
  • Jeff Koons worked as a commodities broker even as his early art series were making it into museums
And the list goes on...

There's a great story about Phillip Glass, who was doing some day job work for a guy who turned out to be an art critic for TIME magazine and expressed amazement that the famed composed was installing his dishwasher. As Glass tells it: "'But you are an artist,' he protested. I explained that I was an artist but that I was sometimes a plumber as well and that he should go away and let me finish."

Elizabeth Gilbert--who also hung on to her day job for a while, even after "Eat, Pray, Love" was topping the best-seller list--characterizes this sort of thing as "being your own patron" in her book "Big Magic" (which your son might want to read, by the way). There's actually quite a bit of artistic merit in it, as it allows your art to be independent of the market.

Of course, this assumes that your son is in it to be an artist, with a primary goal of creative expression. If he's instead in it mainly because he need to make money somehow, and since he has a talent for creating things that people want to buy he might as well do that, well that's a different story. Now we're out of Mark Rothko territory and into something more like Thomas Kinkade. In that case, just imagine that instead of creating artwork, your son makes burritos. How much would you fund his burrito business? Should it be a gift or a loan/investment? Does he have a business plan? Is it sound? etc...
Stay on target...
delamer
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by delamer »

We are in a position of providing assistance to an adult offspring who isn’t self supporting. The offspring lives with us, though, so the financial burden is low (except for health insurance premiums).

The pandemic has affected the ability of our offspring to hold a job, for health reasons. But we have set a deadline for our offspring to be working/going to school (ir some combination thereof) full-time in the fall, on the assumption that a vaccine will have minimized the coronavirus risk by then. At that point, our offspring will have to start contributing to household expenses from savings or current work.

Assuming it is feasible — in terms of your and your spouse’s finances — I’d suggest either 1) give your son and his siblings each an equal lump sum that will be the final help you give them pre-inheritance (with no further rent assistance to your son) or 2) give your son a deadline (maybe 6 months) at which time you will stop subsidizing his rent, and gift his siblings a lump sum to balance the scales.

If you can’t afford to make your other children whole prior to any inheritance, then stop subsidizing your son. I am assuming that aside from the rent that you have spent similar sums to feed, clothe, house, and educate your children.

Barring some mental or physical condition/disability on the part of one sibling, it is important that siblings be treated roughly equally by their parents. In our case, we have one other adult offspring to whom we also provided some temporary assistance.

Good luck.
sd323232
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by sd323232 »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:02 am Amazon starts warehouse workers at over $15 an hour. Give him that tip. Likely, it's more than he's pulling in when averaged to per hour. He can be a painter during his time off. If he starts to get a following of buyers who will pay him 6 figures for a painting consistently, then maybe he can do it full time. At the moment, no.
you probably never dealt with artists before. you are trying to solve this problem like an engineer or something. very practical. low on cash, go get a job. artists are not interested in living life the way we do. waking up and going to actual work will not work here. otherwise this guy wouldnt be scraping by and mooching off his parents at age of 29.
oldfort
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Re: Family support for an artist

Post by oldfort »

Not what you want to hear, but art is a tough career. According to this non-scientific survey, 29% of visual artists rely on family support or an inheritance to get by. As of 2012, according to ACS data, the median income of a working artist with a bachelor's degree was $36,105. If his work was in demand at a price which would support a living wage, he wouldn't need your help to pay rent in a low cost of living area. If he's 29 now is there an expiration date to parental support?

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/artis ... ey-1300895
http://bfamfaphd.com/wp-content/uploads ... 014-10.pdf
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