Yes, $5,260.26 on one credit card, $559.12 on a second credit card, $1,200 in debt to my girlfriend who paid half my studio rent this month (August 2013) and $40,000 that I wish to re-pay to my father for paying off the remainder of my student loans. I chose to go to art school, my father offered to pay my tuition if I went to college for a "sensible" degree. I insisted on going to art school and on working/paying my way through it. The government required my parents to pay a certain amount, this they accepted. I received a BFA degree in 1998 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After my forbearance ran out I paid what I could as I worked for the Art Institute of Chicago Museum. Then my mother and father each offered to pay-off my remaining credit card debt and loan balance totally around $42,000 and I would pay them back at 1% interest. With greater freedom I moved to the Hudson Valley and began working at an Art Foundry doing my best to pay $300 a month towards my debts. In time I paid back my mother (who took on the lesser amount of my credit card debt). As my father was about to go in for his second heart surgery he called off the debt. A year after the surgery I took him to Egypt to see the pyramids (a wish of his within my power to accomplish, and by chance, two weeks prior to the revolution). My studio partner recently moved out and I am planning for a solo exhibition in February and the time is not ideal to find a new studio or studio partner so I will likely take on more debt. In principle I still wish to pay my father back someday, he is 79 years old.
I work 3 days a week as a machinist for a film restoration company. In short- I make specialized, and replacement parts for their equipment. I also do freelance metal fabrication and odd jobs to help pay the bills. I have a large industrial studio and it is very expensive. Over many years I have acquired for cheap and sometimes free an assortment of metalworking equipment. My previous employment as a metal fabricator at an art foundry gave me experience of making art for artists much more financially successful than myself: Frank Stella, Louise Bourgeois and Jeff Koons among others. I had hopes of translating this experience into my own art making but labor intensive craft oriented skills are not a guarantee of artistic success.
It is a weight that hangs over my head. It puts pangs in my stomach and it limits the materials I can afford to use in my art. It prevents me from a leap into full-time art making. It sometimes leads me to create work referencing other more famous artists in the hope it may resinate with art world insiders.