While researching avenues to publish my own poetry and series of short stories, I had to decide if I would send my work to a publishing company or self-publish. My bones shook when presented with the idea of getting some money at signing or paying money to design, edit, print, market, distribute and all the other costs. My very capitalist mind was whirling figures around when I discovered I would no longer have ownership of my work. The banker brain turned off, and my punk rock/diy reflexes kicked in. There is no way in hell that I would surrender my work.
My wife and I have been talking to artists we know who also operate outside of the mainstream. Through those discussions, we found people all over the world who put down their brushes, typewriters, computers, guitars, tubas and other implements of destruction to work a square 9to5 job. It’s tough trying to keep the lights on and write a novel or go on tour, not to mention trying to find the extra money to pay for an agent/manager/book designer. We have talked to some artists who have given up hope that they will be able to live by doing what they love, resigning to cubicles, cash registers or bartending, others turn their art into a hobby trying to jam their gigs or book promotion or art shows into their days off….a few people even break through turning their passion into livelihood. We noticed that while our friends who are pros are talented and produce wonderful work, our friends who are still punching the timeclock are also just as talented and capable of doing the same quality of work. What happened? How did they get out of hobbyville and into the professional arena?
We found that those rare gems who broke the mold had help-community and cooperation from others. The Frei Art Cooperative (FAC) is a community of indie artists who share their skills in lieu of dollar bills. Everyone adds to the goblin hoard (our fancy name for trade market) which gives the artists some breathing room for production costs, and provides an ever evolving network of cool art and opportunities for collaborations. The FAC is the “Habitat For Humanity” of the art world. It is a fantastic resource for artists and enthusiasts!!