By Laura Oriol

I’m in De Zaal, the Autonomous Design department building in Kask. I’m having an enjoyable conversation with a teacher and slowly I try to bridge the subject I’ve been wanting to bring up for a long time. “How do you make your money as an artist?” I ask them. There’s a pause in our dialogue and I sense a disease. Nonetheless, they begin to answer this complex question and unravel the somewhat chaotic history of their working artistic life. I listen carefully and anxiety swells in me as I hear the complexity and the struggle it has been for them. I am also struck by my impression that they are speaking about this for the first time. Money is a big taboo in the arts. It seems nobody is talking about it to students. I’m determined to lift this taboo.

In school, this taboo has terrible consequences because students are not taught to think critically about the systems that regulate their capacity to reproduce themselves financially and face the difficult reality that awaits them beyond the school doors.

I asked this teacher if we could make a master class out of this subject and miraculously, they said yes! Two years later, I am sitting around a table as co-editor of the 2023 Fair Arts Almanac because of this initial question. More questions came after: How to understand, see and co-create the art sector as an ecology of care, of solidarity, of support and friendship? I wanted this to be my activist project and I am happy and lucky to say: they pulled up a chair for me at the table.

This chapter hopes to address questions, share aspirations, cultivate critiques, offer proposals for change, give space to cries of protest and propose a few tools for art students and emerging artists in the field. I tried to shed light on different moments of the early journey of an artist: being in school, in the dreaded gap before entering the art field and the fragile moment when you have one foot in the field and another foot in a side job in order to survive.

The selection of texts follows, in part, my own process of developing a critical mindset of the art sector and an activist posture with my peers during my masters. When I left school, I found how essential it is to collectivise and address my challenges, my frustrations, my ideas within a group. Voices can sometimes become actions that produce change when they are carried collectively. Yet no matter how precious this may be, it is something that gets forgotten as school sets us often on very individualist tracks. I want to give voice to a younger generation and reveal all the political activity that is already happening. At the same time, these texts are invitations for critical thinking on what kind of artistic fields art schools promote, what kind of ideologies they carry and why. I wish for these texts to foster more conversations on these topics at a younger age and empower readers to demand fair practice in their work, refusing different kinds of oppression.