Saturday, September 28, 2019

changes afoot

Some decisions are the harder ones. My decision on whether to renew the lease on the studio space is coming up and I have pretty much decided to move the dgp operation back to it's origins--aka my dining room.  Each year, the rent goes up, both there and home. The past year has been like trying to rub two pennies together to make a dime, stretching myself unbelievably thin, occasionally overdrafting my Chase account to make ends meet. And just in general running at a financial stress level of about 11.  While the press mostly pays for itself in terms of supplies and ink and making of the books, the studio rent was oft augmented by my own artwork, vintage, and etsy sales, and when those came up short, my own libary income.  As the press has grown, we sell more books, but we also publish more books so the income/spending has remained stable.   I've been juggling these things for over a decade, hoping that at some point there would be some equilibrium, but I've yet to find it.

When I left etsy and my vintage/ craft focus 8 years ago, I decided to focus more on art & books, which has paid off in innumerable ways creative and intellectually, and allowed us to grow the chapbook series in a huge way, but there was a toll.  Publishing takes more than it gives, which I knew at the start, and which I was ready to sacrifice some things for .  However, coming up with an additional $850 each month got a little harder over the past few years.  I relied a bit more and more on my regular paycheck, which in turn left less and less for things like living in a pretty expensive city. I scrambled, I overdrafted, I paid bills late and more late fees and just hoped they wouldn't turn off my phone or my electricity.  I tried, but sometimes I failed.  I made do--tried to spend less of my disposable income, bought clothes mostly second hand,  never traveled, got rid of my home internet.  But still, I struggled.

And all the while, as well, I felt I was paying a whole lot for a place I didn't get to spend nearly enough hours in--2-3 per day mostly.  Even when I would have wanted to work late into the night, my prime creative time.  The building pretty much closed at 10pm (unless you were willing to stay there with no attendants/no elevator service, which I did a couple times, but it never felt safe.) For over a decade it has felt like most days I run in there, do a bunch of stuff, then run out frantically trying to get to work on time at 2pm. I also never have felt caught up on things in the way I might I am always behind, and for the most part, always am.  I am also, always scattered, split between two places when it comes to creating, some of my supplies there, some at home.  Nothing is every where I need it it seems, and I would like to feel a little more centered.

The last few weeks have bought some difficult, awkward situations that have only compounded the financial fatigue, and with another rent increase on my horizon, I feel a need to pull down the hatches, fold up the sails,  and focus on righting the ship and moving the operation back to my apartment. Some of the larger furniture will have to go into storage until I decide what to do with it (storage racks, the mini-fridge, the ikea tables), but if I move the large metal shelves into my dining room, I can probably set up the printing operation with little difficulty there once again (and much more attractively/ less chaotically than it initially was).  Shipping supplies, paper stores, all the supplies will be in one place again, and I will be able to go home and work on books as late as I need to like I did pre-2007. which was pretty much the last time I felt caught up in any way.

I also feel, that while it was nice to have the options of open studio hours, I was pretty much either working or too exhausted to actually do them more than once a year.  The bulk of business has always been online and not in person anyway , so little will change except maybe I will close up my shipping delays and get books out a lot faster and more expeditiously when my studio hours are less limited by the times I can be there. (also weekends, when I never wanted to have to go all the way downtown just to work on my days off) And with more money to devote to the press without the rent, I can finally do all the other projects I've been wanting to do but haven't been able to scrape funds up for in the past few years.

So while I will miss my little studio space in the gorgeousness of that building--my view of the brick wall opposite, and my little loft above the city, there are perhaps kinder, less financially strangling things ahead, which I am all for.

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