Do you have any tips for managing finances and general money tips?
You’re going to have to work jobs you don’t like, but there’s plenty of crappy jobs out there that aren’t going to be that crappy, you know? And you always have to keep creating stuff, even if you don’t have a job that is creative. Just eat lots of ramen like every college kid. Happy hours are great. If you enjoy sushi, you gotta reel that in. [Laughter]
It was just trying to live cheaply until I started making money and saving money, which I was never good at. Because for the longest time once I got money I’d just buy plane tickets and go to Europe. Then I’d have $500 left in my bank account and think, I need to go home and work now.
I’ve had crappy jobs earning six dollars an hour. I was bumping chairs at Keystone Resort for eight dollars and fifty cents an hour or something, but I was still outside having fun then going home and doing art and design work.
I’m very frugal, I save a lot. That’s one of the reasons my studio is in the house and one of the reasons we live in a smaller place. I’m not great with numbers but I know when we shouldn’t go out to eat one week, you know?
I don’t purchase a lot of things. I like to barter. Especially with artists there’s a lot of trade. I love art and if another artist likes my work, I’m like, Let’s trade. So there’s no money spent there.
Most of my money is spent on art supplies and travel. Travel is the biggest thing, but even when it comes to travel I’m super frugal. It helps that my wife and I are both frugal for figuring out things money-wise.
I’ll keep an eye on my bank account every month and know what I have. Then when times are getting busy, I know I should keep adding more work and not slow down. It’s also one of the reasons I have a hard time sometimes saying no. Because I know that while these murals are great and they’re like, boom, boom, boom, they could be something that’s just on-trend for a couple of years and then in five years there aren’t going to be big festivals and things like that going on. So you just have to jump in, hustle and do it.
I think Hours Tracker is a good app to have, so you know what you’re making with the time you put into things. And then using that as a goal to work more economically and efficiently.
Being very fastidious or meticulous with a budget. Asking yourself, What’s my overhead for a project?
Then taxes and remembering to tell your tax person about them. Keeping track of expenses and stuff. That’s huge.
Just trying to live simply, I guess. I’m not trying to spend my money on a bunch of things that I don’t need and instead put it towards my art. Stuff that will help me become a better artist — better quality brushes or better quality paint.
But I don’t know, that’s kind of a tough question. It’s hard. Living out here is super expensive, so it’s definitely been a challenge.
I think the smartest thing I did was I separated my art business income from my [day-job] income. So every dollar that came into the Art of Cody Kuehl was to buy prints, to pay for festivals, to pay rent and to pay for whatever I needed to expand the business. I luckily never got to the point where my art income was zero and I was taking from my work income to do the art stuff because then it’s called a hobby. So that’s when it’s like, Okay, either you make better art or you need to make better decisions about your product or business decisions.
And so I used that segmented art income to build the business. I never leveraged anything against it, I never borrowed anything to do the art business. And I did not spend it on frivolous things. It was like, I need new paper prints, I need new canvas prints or I need to pay for gallery walls — I know it’s sacrosanct to pay to show your artwork, but I made good money for a lot of years doing that. You do whatever you have to do to build the business.
The portrait work I save for the wintertime because it’s slow on both spectrums, the advertising and the art. So I try to save those like a squirrel for the wintertime.