T+S+R=W The necessary equation

T+S+R=W The necessary equation

If you’re going to work in the arts, there are three things you must
have—Time, Space & Resources (Resources meaning materials and
tools, or the money to get them). You absolutely need all three and you
must have them simultaneously. In fact, this is probably true
regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish. Let’s do the math:



T+R-S=Idle: You have time and resources but no work space. Examples: a
rock band with close neighbors, a dancer with a no floor space, any
visual artist whose space is improperly ventilated, too small, or is
not conducive to the use of their proper tools.

T+S-R=Idle: You have time and space but no resources. Example: you quit
your job and moved into your parent’s basement, but ran out of paint
& canvas. Or you saved up enough cash to rent a big space and take
time off, but your welder just blew out it’s coil and there’s not
enough cash left to fix it. Or you took a part time job so you’d have
more time to work, but you can’t afford materials after you pay the

R+S-T=Idle: You have resources and space, but all your time is used to
maintain them. Example: You have a great job that pays for a huge loft
and you’ve purchased everything you need to do a big project. But every
night when you come home, you’re just too burned out to get anywhere
with the stuff.

There are lots of scenarios. Almost everyone I know has at least two
pieces of the equation but lacks one. And very few of them are able to
really work on their art as hard or often as they would like. The
trouble is, it’s almost impossible to get all three at once. Time gets
used to make money. Money gets used to pay for space. Space is hard to
justify unless you have the time and resources to make it pay for
itself. The whole equation can easily turn into a vicious circle in
which you constantly have to rob Peter to pay Paul.

There are various compromises, such as borrowing space from a friend or
working outdoors, using found materials and inexpensive tools, or
cutting back on sleep. There are short term solutions, such as going to
art school on a student loan, landing a residency or grant, or working
for another artist in exchange for time making your own work. But in
the long run, if you’re serious about your work, you’re really going to
have to find a way to work efficiently enough that you don’t burn out
or give up in frustration.

The best solution to the problem is to make the art pay for itself by
going pro. Obviously, there are a host of new problems to deal with
once you do that. but I’ll address some of that in other posts.

You can save a lot of time and avoid a lot of flawed strategies just by
being aware of what you will need, and forming a plan to get there.