To begin to be compensated for the experience, sweat, and physicality of being a potter, I would like to be making $20 an hour. It's not chicken feed and it's not caviar fare.
Now, I know these things:
- Health insurance could eat up to 1/3 of that salary. I now have it through my husband's group plan. We have experienced enough illness and medical expenses from his kidney transplant that I can not imagine being without health insurance. I really do not consider it a luxury and it frightens the daylights out of me that so many artists go without it.
- Any money I make, I have to allow that I will be paying 16% approx. as a self-employed person for social security. So that comes off the top and reduces that $20 down to $16.80 or so.
- I will not be working at artist wages 40 hours a week. Much of my time is spent answering the phone, typing invoices, mixing glazes, recycling clay, changing the light bulbs and air conditioner filters, cleaning the toilets, etc. How to balance this is a mystery to me.
- I have a personal goal to get to $50,000 a year in sales in the near future. I am not there yet by a long shot and I would not be able to afford to pay myself that $20 an hour weekly wage because the expenses/costs of doing business are more than $8400 a year. Just my power, water and phone bill run $325 a month, not including any property/car insurance, rent, business licenses, internet web hosting, email programs, postage, clay and glaze materials, gas, boxes, bubble wrap, etc.......
- I do understand all the arguments that we are not making "needed" things. Yet we are surrounded by "unneeded" things that people choose to spend their discretionary monies on. To name a few: cigarettes, body art, paintings, music, television, movies. I happen to think that my pottery is just as important as the local tatoo artist's work. I have no idea what a good tatoo art makes. I do know my son has dropped some money on body art and it's not cheap. I'm not sure I even know how to spell it right!
- Part of what I want is to create a decent living wage as an example to up and coming artists that they can choose to work at something they love and get paid for. I really hate being embarrassed when someone asks me if "They can make a good living at pottery?" I feel like I am not doing it now. So one of the steps for me is to identify my true costs and look at this profession like a business, then set goals of income and wages, work towards those and then up the ante to higher stakes.
That's all I can handle on the subject for now. You can comment back with any ideas you have on how insane or sane some of this is.