Archimedes claimed he could move the planet with the right leverage. He was just making a point, but isn’t that what we’re all looking for -- the biggest bang for the buck, the most reward for the least effort, the pivot point where pure thought becomes potent force. Well, that’s what art is. Not just art but the very making of art is an exercise in obtaining maximum mileage from materials, studio space, and studio time. Unless art is supported from the outside, a trust fund or a teaching position, maximum efficiency is prerequisite across the board, in lifestyle as well as actual art production. In fact, without occasional help and timely good luck, making art for a living can be a very difficult passage and people fall away.
The ones who make it through to self-sustaining studio status have found a use for every scrap of paper, every inch of pencil, and every hour of studio time, usually because it’s all borrowed or stolen from earning a living working for someone else. What they’re actually trying to do is more amazing, something very close to alchemy, that ancient mythic quest. In the popular imagination artists attempt to transform base material, traditionally canvas, paint, and wood, into an object worth the cost of beans and a roof to someone else. Since selling art in a commercial age conditioned to beer-sign expectations is obviously improbable from the beginning, most artists instead attempt to create an object worthy of the days, weeks, and years devoted to finding a voice, the sacrifice of income 'being creative' sells for in industry these days, and so on. Artists have done this in the past.
The real mythic quest is to use the common materials available to all mankind to create an object which represents the artist and their time with some dignity, in the course of human events. Gold is only a shiny metal.