How did you get into debt?
I had very minimal debt (credit card debt around $1,000 or less) before going back to school to get my MFA. However, since then I've had to cut back my freelance and part-time work to focus more on my artistic practice and grad school obligations, so my overall income has dropped. I've found ways to reduce small portions of my costs of living, but beyond my other daily expenses, now I'm incurring more credit card debt to cover material costs for art-making, schoolwork, projects, etc., which adds more debt on top of my student loans.
How does your economic reality effect your art?
In some ways it has a negative impact on my access to resources (material, funding, workspace, travel, etc.) for making work. It imposes an anxiety about precarity and financial instability that upends how I balance my time in pursuing an art practice on my own terms vs. needing to find ways to pay my bills (whether through art-making or some other related/unrelated endeavor). However, as I get involved with others who share experiences of economic uncertainty, my practice gains inspiration and strength through communities of resistance, through collaborations, through conversation, through collective action -- though I'm sure none of us would say that we necessarily thrive off our economic hardship.
Would your work look different if you weren't in debt?:
Regardless, I would maintain a critical engagement with political topics and social justice issues -- and after reading David Graeber's "Debt" book, its hard to ignore the myriad ways that debt overlaps with those areas. So I don't think my overall practice would necessarily change. Perhaps being debt-free would give me more flexibility in some of the materials I choose to work with and experiment with. Or maybe I'd be able to afford a larger, less precarious studio. I suppose there would be small gains in financial stability, but again, I doubt any of those factors would change the central premise of my practice. After all, erasing my personal debt wouldn't end the sufferings and exploitation that capitalism (now on brink of the neo-fascist variety) inflicts in the U.S. and elsewhere.