For centuries humankind has pondered the dilemma of the starving artist. Is it the starving that leads to art, or the art that leads to starving? In eras of prosperity this has been an especially tough question. When the works of Monet, van Gough and Picasso enter and leave the great auction houses with hefty price tags, the starving connection can be elusive. But what of that starving artist in our current downturn?
Then again how does one define starving artist in the first place? Clearly we don’t expect our artists to actually be foodless. Then we learned of Alexander Conner in Philadelphia. An upbeat artist with a “so-what” approach to art and life. Rather than express the usual artistic angst about tough times, Conner, a painter and photographer is content to ride out the times on about $12,000 a year. Okay, so he’s only 22 years old, and his parents paid for his college education.
After paying $475 in rent and about $50 for food, plus more for paints, he manages to save $200 each month. In cases of more month than money, he bakes bread. On paydays he splurges at the nearby market – on a latte and apple fritter for $3. People older than 22, are guessing that his chipper attitude is due to some type of contribution from the bank and restaurant of Mom and Dad. But that could just be conjecture.
Conner believes that those who don’t care to choose between buying paint and buying dinner aren’t cut out for the artist’s frugal life. Working on his living room floor and using paper being dumped by the museum where he works as a telemarketer, he has produced about 50 prints since the year began. He’s also shot around 500 photographs.
No word on his art sales but he proclaims himself to be a very good artist. The art is in his heart and in his soul and he can’t imagine doing anything else. He works only to sustain his ability to make art. But would he make equally good art on double the money with a cushy art studio? We have no idea.