August 15, 2023

How to Make Meaningful Art on a Budget


Source From Nature

No matter where you live, some kind of nature is at hand. Aside from supplying incredible locations, nature also provides an array of free resources, that change with the seasons.

Everything tells it's own story and provides a unique aesthetic. New Zealand ferns represent new growth and attachment to the homeland. Wildflowers dying off are filled with tiny seeds, representing potential and the cycle of life.

Where I am currently based in Germany, there are beautiful weeds along roadsides, autumn leaves and most recently, two meter high thistles, that are dying off and spreading their seeds all over the fields. They are fluffy and floaty, so I spent an afternoon collecting them for an upcoming concept.

Walk around your area, scout for new nature locations and observe the details. Not only is this meditative, you can find a lot to work with. Observe and research what you find consider possible symbolism for storytelling, as well as textures and details that might look beautiful in your work.

make art on a budget

'Return to Aotearoa,’ 2022. Cost: 8,22€ for the fern. Bird found.

using nature to create

'Gone to Seed,' 2021. Cost: 74,43€ for moths, which were reused for multiple shoots.

collaborating with others on art

'Prey,' 2022. Cost: 0€. Wings loaned and collected in person.

art on a budget

'Dark Baptism,' 2023. Cost: 25€ for black liquid ingredients. Moth already on hand.

Collaborate With Others

While these days I usually prefer to make everything myself for my artworks, there have been times when working with other creatives has enabled me to expand my possibilities.

Sometimes someone else has expertise in an area that can really add something to your work. In exchange for the use of their item/s, they gain use of the image/s for their portfolio. In this way, collaborating is not only cost effective, it's a win-win. You also expand your network and spread your artwork to audiences you might not have otherwise reached.

If you like someone's work, just reach out to them. Introduce yourself, let them know what you do and ask directly if they would be interested in a collaboration.

art collaborations

'Grace,' 2019. Cost: 5,49€ for gown shipping.

Recycle Your Rubbish

Using what you have, can save you money on materials that don't need to look perfect.

I've used old cardboard boxes to create sculptural bases, recycled newspapers as headpiece foundations and polystyrene shipping packaging to create bases for backdrops.

Packages are often shipped with inordinate amounts of packing materials, many of which can be reused. Store anything you think might be of use for an upcoming project and keep it in mind while creating.

art made from recycled trash

'Self Medication,' 2021. Cost: 0€. Moths already on hand, headpiece made from recycled newspapers and hand collected wildflowers.

Be Resourceful and Prioritise Spending

Of course there are other 'hidden' costs behind these artworks. To make them, I needed to have a studio and camera setup, software subscriptions and makeup supplies. There are model expenses, petrol costs and many other small expenditures, not to mention the priceless cost of time.

But you can keep the cost of each artwork at a minimum, by making the most of what you already have access to. In this way, you only buy what you really need to.

Scout your local environment, network with your community and upcycle your trash! Cut costs where you can, to spend where it matters most. Use what you find to add storytelling elements to your work and create something with meaning, without breaking the bank.

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