BY ANNE BELOV
February 9, 2016
Even at the best of times, an artist’s income is precarious.
I always have the feeling that the painting I just sold might be the last for a while. This is not complaining. It’s just the way it is, and I signed up for this, full-well knowing that this is the deal. Making art is not for sissies.
What is hard, especially in times of social upheaval, is when you want to contribute, but your income can barely stretch to your mortgage and groceries, let alone a generous donation to an organization you believe in. I used to do the art auction thing, until I realized it was counter-productive to actually making a living at art. Don’t get me wrong. My donations went to support organizations I like, but if everyone buys their art at auctions … well … it just doesn’t pencil out very well for the artists in most cases.
Over the years I’ve tried to come up with creative ways to contribute. The key, for me, is to think of my donation as an extra gift that comes as a thank-you gift for contributing more than the actual value of a piece. Think of the coffee cup you get for contributing $120 or more to your public radio station. So I was really excited when I read of cartoonist Sara Gliddon, who had come up with a great plan to generate donations for the ACLU. She started the ball rolling and many other comics artists took her idea and ran with it, so I did too. I tweaked the idea a little, but the gist is the same. Make a donation, send me proof, and I’ll send you a cartoon, signed and sketched upon. A (much) larger donation will get you an original cartoon that previously appeared on my blog.
It’s working out great so far, and I will be keeping the offer going for the whole month of February.
I never cease to be awed at the generous spirit of most creative people I know. And I have met so many more of them in the virtual world of social media. They are generous not only with their art, but also with information about their process and knowledge. While I am grateful that I live in a community full of artists and writers, we’re mostly too busy with real life to have all that much face-to-face time, although we try to make an effort.
Maybe it reminds me of the pen pals I used to have back in the olden days. You know, you’d have to write an actual letter, put it in an envelope, put stamps on it, mail it, then wait (and wait and wait) for a reply. The internet makes it easy to have these kinds of interactions all around the world, and, you can have them in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, wearing your pajamas! Some of these people I may never meet, and some of them I have, or will in the future. (There will probably be a post about that later this year!)
These may feel like the worst of times right now. Societal upheaval is hard on everyone. Vulnerable people are under attack. But artists are rising to the challenge. To contribute. To make beautiful things. To make us laugh. In addition to feeling gratitude for the donations made in my honor, I am profoundly touched by the emails I’ve received. Here are some of my favorite comments:
“Huzzah!! This is an absolutely fabulous idea. I love your cartoons and have all of your books … Again, thanks for all the panda laughs in these troubling times …”
“Please do know that I appreciate your illustrations so much, more so since the election, after which I’ve had precious little to smile about.”
“Can I just say that The Panda Chronicles are always high points in my week, and they really help to keep me sane?”
So, thank you Sara Gliddon for instigating this uprising of cartoonists! We are stronger together (especially if we’re laughing.)
Anne Belov lives and works on Whidbey Island, in an undisclosed location. Her paintings can be seen at The Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm and at The Fountainhead Gallery on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. You can find her peculiarly political panda satire at Your Brain on Pandas, and her books at Moonraker Books in Langley or on Amazon. Feel free to follow on Twitter where she is @pandachronicle and visit The Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire on Facebook. No pandas (or cats) were harmed in writing this post.
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