On Making a Living as an Artist – Part II

The Fine Art of Doing Whatever it Takes

I love to barter. The exchange of skills for skills or goods for goods has been going on forever. Long before the currency of paper or coins ever became the norm, folks would share the wealth by exchanging something they could do for something that was needed.

Recently, I extended my gym membership for like the sixth time, by photographing a congested room full of sweaty spinners all pedaling ferociously in raising money to end cancer. This is a great cause no doubt, and I happily shot a few hundred quick frames, to gain three more months on the gym card. Most of the time, everyone is happy with a barter. Mostly people are happy, but not the IRS. They hate bartering and will not accept it. It’s so hard to levy taxes on bartering, that’s why.

Over the years I have bartered for dentistry, legal services, psycho-therapy, acupuncture, Alexander technique, and chiropractic care, and still more stuff. These worthy professionals had much to offer me and desired my fine art prints, some my photographic skills to make them look good in a portrait or a commercial shoot for their business. My favorite barter is turning over some artwork for a restaurant’s walls, in exchange for some wonderful meals for a year or two. Who makes out best? The framed prints remain long after my waistline has extended by delicacies digested.

I highly recommend the barter system. Indulge and enjoy. Seek out a fair exchange with anyone who is willing. Make some electronic files in exchange for flowers for your favorite love. I have. Obtain some graphic design skills for your camera work. Usually everyone is happy, just don’t tell your accountant, or try to file a barter’s value on a 1099 form. You just might get an audit, and then you’ll need to find a tax attorney who needs the walls updated and arranged. Yep, bartering has always been around for a long, long time. Try it, I think you’ll like it.

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