How Artists Can Fight Back Against Cities That Are Taking Advantage of Them

(Yes, That's What Cities Like Seattle Are Doing)


Consumers make choices. The fact that you wind up with a Quiznos and no artists in a building is because we will pay for a Quiznos sandwich at a rate per sandwich high enough to pay minimum wage. We won't pay for art at a high enough rate to do that, so the artists get the boot and the space gets rented to Quiznos and the like.

So if that is what results from the democracy of dollars that is consumerism, why shouldn't we have that. If we wanted something different we could buy art a rate the produces more sales per square foot than a Quiznos. We are getting what we value by the choices we make. What is wrong with that Jen? Isn't it anti-democratic to impose a different outcome then the outcome that occurs when consumers choose with their purchase choices?
For the most part, artists of all stripes have almost always lived on the edge economically. For many visual artists, their work only became valuable after their deaths.

There's nothing new here other than that many young and aspiring artists need to realize they must leave the Seattle area in order to be able to afford to be creative. It's no longer hospitable to them. They need to build creative communities in kinder, gentler places than Seattle and its surroundings.

Seattle's time as an incubator for new artists is so over. It's now a place for only well-established, famous, and wealthy artists (i.e., Chihuly, the Pearl Jam members, etc.). Seattle's grungy creative glory days when an artist could hold it together with just spare change ended in the 1990s. Unless you're the beneficiary of a big trust fund, don't move here.

Take that to heart any young artists thinking Seattle is where to come to make your mark. You'll need to find another place to do that if you want to survive and create until you do..
A lot of these "artists" are not making a living because no one wants their "art". Speaking of which, I just wiped a turd across a canvas and threw some glitter mate from the bones of road-kill on top. $10000. Any takers?
Yes, because nothing spurs great art better than gub'ment funded or mandated comfort and aid for artists.
#2 You must not live in Seattle. Artists do not have to leave Seattle, they have to leave the hip, trendy, cafe-bar-boutique on every corner neighborhoods. There are plenty of affordable neighborhoods 20 minutes on the bus from D.T. Seattle. They'er just not hip. Yeah bummer. Come to Seattle to make great art, there are still many affordable places for those willing to search them out.
@5 how can you call yourself a real artist if you're not hanging out in the cool Café in the cool hood being seen by all the beautiful people?
Why doesn't it say what Nyland was paid for the mural? Or did I miss it?
#5: And when they leave, the 'hip' developers follow them. Because all the monied Amazon and Microsoft developers want to reside in an 'artsy' community. No problem. Buy the warehouse across the street, convert it into luxury apartments and rub elbows with the hip crowd.

But now the tax man cometh. And that artists loft could potentially become another high priced rental property. So it is valued as such and taxed accordingly. Pretty soon, the loft's owner gets squeezed between the tax bill and rental receipts. You know what happens next.
News flash. There are very few affordable places left to live in the Seattle area and you'll need to get in line to get one. Anyone who tries to convince people who don't live in the region that it's affordable is either a Realtor, real estate developer, or property manager. Seattle is rapidly climbing toward becoming the third most expensive metropolitan area to live in in the U.S. Real estate over-valuation and rising population density is driving the cost of everything through the roof. Seattle has succumbed totally to the Manhattanization that San Francisco has already experienced.

If you feel you must be in Washington to create art then consider south of Olympia, north of Snohomish County, or east of the Cascades.
New downtown Kent apartments to open in October | The Platform

People will soon be moving in to The Platform Apartments in downtown Kent.

Rents range from $1,039 to $1,845 per month at the five-story complex, said property manager Heather Lagat during a tour last week.

The complex offers move-in specials of a month's free rent and $99 down. Leases are from six to 18 months.…

When is the last time a "young and aspiring" artist made it?

During the 90s, there were big time new painters like Basquiat and Hockney, but it seems like art as a salable commodity hit the skids after the Tech Bust of 2000.

The art world today has stopped letting people into the catalog -- in part to preserve the value of existing works. (Kind of like today's stock and real estate markets in that sense.)
@2 and @5, you're both making the same kind of error. Cheap rent doesn't equal cheap working space, and working space in isolation is not the same as working space in a community with other artists.

People are always trying to start artist colonies out in the middle of nowhere where the rent is cheap, but they aren't obviously any more successful than people trying to protect artist space in gentrifying urban areas. That's because artists who need day jobs need to live where the jobs are, just like everyone else.

All of that is why "neglected urban areas" have traditionally been used -- they had the ideal mix of community, access to day jobs, the right kind of physical spaces, and affordable living and working space.

There's really not a good substitute for that, and the real estate bubble made everything worse by driving up prices everywhere, even neglected urban areas that would otherwise fit the bill. The only place that really seems a likely prospect is Detroit. But the weather sucks in Detroit.
McJulie - except for this unusual summer, the weather here sucks most of the time, too. Just in a different way. It already started sucking again last night.

Detroit offers a terrific opportunity for urbanistas to reinvent themselves totally outside the box. It's a place where young people who want to pioneer new approaches to everything from business start ups to non-traditional communities should seriously consider. Since everything has broken down, it can be built fresh using a model that's not been tried before. Detroit could be the next great urban frontier, not Seattle, which has already succumbed to the worst of what drives most American big cities.
No artists in the Arthouse?

Next thing you're going to tell me there's no metalwork being performed in the Smith Tower.
@10: $1,845 a month to live in downtown fucking Kent? Holy shit.
Can we get all the artists to move to Everett? Everett has good urban bones, cheap prices, and a train to Seattle. Move on up!!

p.s. I've just bought in and I want some gentrification! joking, joking!!
@ 13 I've lived in the area for 20 years now we always have the best summers in the country, few days about 80, mostly sun, with few days of rain. Can't beat it.
How The Stranger does love to sensationalize. Nowhere in this article is any evidence presented that would back up the hyperbolic Stranger headline that the City of Seattle is "taking advantage" of artists. Apparently in the Strangers eyes "taking advantage" means refusing to subsidize artists at a level that the benevolent editors at the Stranger feel is fair and proper.

For those of you not around here long enough to know any better, Seattle starting going down the tube a couple decades ago. Twenty plus years into this process and most of you are apparently just figuring it out. LMFAO!! Believe me, it's only going to get more and more absurd. Get out while can.
Tax notices came out this week.
Rent increase notices will come out next week.
I wonder if there is a connection?

If you are renting the average Seattle home, about $400K, You can figure about $360 a month is property tax, add in the mortgage, $1551 @ 4.41% and $100 insurance, You are above $2000.

Don't come to Bellevue, it's actually more out here.
@15 That's $1,800 a month for a 1000 sqft top-floor corner unit, in the only walkable neighborhood of Kent, two blocks from a Sounder station, a 150 stop, and a large pedestrian mall.

Thanks to our shitty in-city bus system, you can actually walk&transit to downtown Seattle at rush hour FASTER from these apartments then you can from Ballard. Because unlike the Rapidride D, the train runs on time.

@10 All-day Sounder South WHEN?
"A report earlier this year from Trulia tracked rents in tech-dominated cities and found they rose nearly twice as much as rents in the other 90 largest cities in the country. It was worst in San Francisco, where rents went up 12.3 percent in a year; Seattle ranked fourth-worst at 9.2 percent. Another report this year, by Polaris Pacific, revealed that the number of cash-only home sales in Seattle has doubled since 2008. Almost 20 percent of all Seattle home sales are cash."

no no no. Rents are rising because we are not building enough housing. Come on, Stranger, you're not drinking enough Kool-Aid...

All day LINK when Angle Lake opens..2015

But yes, you'd have to take a shuttle to it from Kent Station.
But … density.
Not only do these high rent human filing cabinets have an extremely low vibrational level, they also ravage my corneas. No amount of art slapped in or on them can rescue them from showing how little the developer cares about anything other than making money.
The Bemis Building near Safeco Field in SODO is the largest artist live / work development in Seattle. 60,000 square feet on the top two floors of the 150,000 square foot building were redeveloped into 32 studios in 1995 and Bemis has maintained an active artist community ever since. We are currently in the planning stages for building out an additional 15,000 square feet on the second floor into work studios. If anyone is interested in these spaces, please contact David Huchthausen at Somerset Properties 206-587-4036.
i forgot that people should be able to choose whatever careers they want and never have to make *any* compromises and are entitled to live in hip cities that *never* change. and, like nyland says, they shouldn't have to "sell out" to do so.

bonus points to author for lamenting the "homogenization" of race while only profiling a bunch of suffering white artists in seattle. i saw what you did there.
Art isn't just painters y'all. What about Musicians? They have almost NO options for affordable work spaces - These 'art spaces' don't want the noise because they couldn't be bothered to insulate the buildings with sound-proofing...they don't want to install more freight elevators and loading spaces for bringing instruments to and from the car.... - Sorry Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and the rest... if you want us to play your stupid Holiday parties where you can ignore us but look affluent and cultured, then you're gonna have to let up on this crusade to push us all out of the city and into the Mountains. We can't simply find a decent sized affordable place to call home and rehearse in peace. Every single time I move, I'm afraid to unpack my suitcases because the building is probably gonna be renovated into condos I can't afford, or it will be jacked up so high, living in the car makes more sense. Don't tell me it's because I chose this profession that I have to accept people's inability to truly value what separates us from the animals as a culture - I didn't go into this because of money. Even when there is money, it gets sucked up by bills. But I also didn't go into this profession because I wanted to stay poor. What I wanted to do was contribute something the community could enjoy and create an atmosphere that makes this a nice place to live, keeps food on the table, and utilizes my skills and strengths. Trust me, you don't want me as your Dentist... but if I have to become one just to pay the bills, it's your fault Seattle.
One of the problems in Seattle is that people worry about these artists. All this money spent on them is better spent on homeless moms. It is just a vanity of the well to do that move money into artist support.
A few responses:

COMMENT 1: A reason why people pay for Quiznos over quality local food (and art), is Quiznos can afford billboards, they can afford to lose money for a bit, they can pay employees low wages without having to look them in the eye, they have the deep pockets of rich investors.

It isn't because the food is more desirable.

Capitalism is awfully favorable to the well-funded.

COMMENT 28: Why is art a bad thing? Artists with creative freedom make our world a more thoughtful, colorful, revolutionary place. Let's pay for both homeless moms and art by taxing rich folks a little more. Seattle has a lot of rich folks. (I am a social worker, so I dedicate my life to helping homeless/poor people, but art is SO IMPORTANT!)
A few responses:

COMMENT 1: A reason why people pay for Quiznos over quality local food (and art), is Quiznos can afford billboards, they can afford to lose money for a bit, they can pay employees low wages without having to look them in the eye, they have the deep pockets of rich investors.

It isn't because the food is more desirable.

Capitalism is awfully favorable to the well-funded.

COMMENT 28: Why is art a bad thing? Artists with creative freedom make our world a more thoughtful, colorful, revolutionary place. Let's pay for both homeless moms and art by taxing rich folks a little more. Seattle has a lot of rich folks. (I am a social worker, so I dedicate my life to helping homeless/poor people, but art is SO IMPORTANT!)
This Is the dumbest thing Jen Graves has ever written. And thats saying something. Seattle was never an artist mecca. The arts programs in the cities universities are uniformly second tier. The gallery scene is thinner than starbucks espresso. Live work spaces have always been overpriced. There is no real music industry presence beyond a couple of refional studios and subpop. Seattle is, and has been for a century, a city built on engineering, research and trade and any idea that it is anything else is merely the conceited navel gazing of a trustafarian creative class that have never done a damn thing to make this city more interesting or livable.
Ugh for all the Amazon hate you missed an important thing, foreign purchases of houses in Seattle is growing by a large amount. This is where a lot of the cash purchases are coming from, rich foreigners. The same thing messed up Vancouver housing market until they finally passed some laws making it tougher but that money is now moving down here. This is actually a really important issues that needs more attention.
Also for an article that's title how artist can fight back you dedicate one paragraph that's only 2 sentences long to how they can fight back....

Seriously, forgien investment is driving up house prices, rich forgieners are throwing cash at the market so they can jump the immigration lines. Come on stranger, do some reporting of this. It's basically the 1-5 percenters of other nations fucking up our house market so they can immigrant faster.

Same thing fucked up Vancouver till the Feds shut it down due to extreme pressure from citizens.

Also for what it's worth, as an immigrant to this country, I support other immigrants, but not those who throw money to cut the line.
500k cash and you got a visa, any guess why Chinese buyers in the above article perfer houses 500k+? Any guess why cash purchases have gone up?…
Canada shut down there forgien invester visa program due to the havoc it was causing the housing market…

"There is also little evidence that immigrant investors as a class are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country."

"People who used the program paid less in taxes than other economic immigrants, and were less likely to remain in Canada for a longer period of time"…

"As he works on extensive new studies of housing prices in Metro Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Sydney, Ley says, “In every one of these cities the market is being driven by something other than owner-occupiers. Not just new immigrants, but investors, including offshore investment"

"ey discovered almost a one-to-one correlation over a 25-year period between Metro Vancouver becoming one of the most unaffordable real estate markets in the world and a surge of international immigration and offshore investing.

University of Waterloo geographer Markus Moos and Queen’s University planner Andrejs Skaburskis back up Ley’s analysis. They say Metro Vancouver is an “exceptional” example of how “globalization” can affect a local housing market"

"Urbanland, a magazine for U.S. developers, describes how American builders have been launching marketing “missions” in Asia to attract “wealthy foreigners” to a fast-track immigrant-investor program known as EB-5."

Oh hi stranger commenters you all seem to be your horrible bickering selves! :D

As the guy who makes LEGO moO-VEees mentioned in the article I've got to say most of you have pretty poor reading comprehension, I'm not getting kicked out of my home, I don't have to leave Seattle, I just lost a great space and now 10+ years of film making gear and a LEGO collection 25+ years in the making are going to invade my home, it's not the end of the world and I have finished filming for a while so I don't need to worry about the logistics of trying to set that stuff up, but one I do finish the post work on my film I won't be able to do thing like shoot wide shots with 300mm lens to get a great sense of scale or other extremely space intensive craziness.

Also a lot of you seem to think that the reason people create art is to make money, which might be why you don't understand artists (which I hesitate to call myself) For me crating is more important that getting money or spanning or whatever normal people do, I'm not driven by what drives the rest of you and that's ok, I've got by all these years and will keep doing so, I'm not worried about it.

(And if you are wondering what a LEGO moO-VEEee that has taken four years to make looks like you can see a trailer here:… )
Funny that the only tenant of the new 12th Av Arts Building that Jen left out is the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce. We'll be right there between Capitol Hill Housing and Three Dollar Bill Cinema. And we were actively sought out by CHH because they know we're a nonprofit community organization doing good work - like advocating for safety, transit, affordable housing and thriving small biz in the neighborhood. I've been critical of the paper when the work is sloppy. And we're the MAN so to the Stranger we are either invisible or evil.
I thought it was a great article that shows the truth about art-making and economy. The artists I work with almost always have a bills-paying job that allows them to also create their art. A few artists I know have two art practices-the work they do that is their bread and butter and the work they like to do as creative thinkers.

Many artists do art not necessarily because one day they said "when I grow up, I'm going to be an artist." They do art because they have a compelling drive to create--whatever that is. Not everything they create is going to a market or even intended to be sold. It's an idea, the start of an idea, a step in creating some other piece in the future. Or not.

In the whole history of humanity, creativity is what drives cultural development and cultural evolution. Squash it and a culture dies.

I figure that the scowls of anti-art dullards are evolution in action. You people, with any luck, will disappear into the abyss of the "Fox epoch" and the rest of us can benefit from the many layers of benefit of creativity-never eating Quiznos.
Sorry if this a point repeated, but it's not called "Artist House", as in a place to house artists. It's called "Art House", as in a place to house art. Most artists can't afford their own art. This is a "house" for people who can afford to pay for "art". What don't you understand, Jen?

Also, word up to @40, which should be much easier now that Dumbinic has been ushered out the door of the Stranger, to pursue his career of smoking as much pot as possible, with mums and daddums picking up the tab. Of course there is something more to the story, but the Stranger will close ranks and not talk about it openly...
Much of the 80's economy was carried by President Carter energy policy and programs that reduced electricity consumption enough to cancel the Wppss nuclear plants and make Trojan the cheaper to fix dismantling. Homes on average today with conservation are consequently also cleaner, healthier, more comfortable. The next step in household utility is the installation of plug-in EVs, all types. That 'basic infrastructure' will eventually deliver/supply more electricity to/from the grid than nuclear power inevitably most anywhere. Upgrades then and since do increase costs but value added considerations justify expense, tax, regulation.

IMO, every floor of mid-rise and high-rise apartments should have an open sitting space with a window view, near the elevator, beverage service shelf, lamp, outlet. This sort of design element should go into the interior shared-space. Would tenant artists like to design a sitting area? Of course, thus, the mixed housing interiors/exterior balcony and patio need that sort of input and interest.
blah blah blah
Reposting a four day old (and tepid at best) article as new content, simply because it is a weekend?

For shame.
That's fine with me. I'll just start calling it "Farthouse." It will catch. Maybe someone can place an F in front to of the A to get it started.
Fantastic piece Jen. Thorough journalism well crafted. I'd love to see a companion piece that dug deeper into Michael Seiwerath and the process that lead to the 12th Ave Arts Center. Housing is obviously topical, I'm fascinated with real estate development, and maybe an expose could help others to emulate Michael Seiwerath's game plan. Anyway, thanks.
Yup. Congrats to Jen Graves. As others mentioned, she hardly mentions music and, somehow, in her long article, she completely fails to ever use the word musician. Even once. So lame. Which art form is Seattle best known for? Painting and the visual arts? Nope. Theatre? Nope; It's MUSIC. The talent pool for good musicians is shrinking so fast in this city. I can't begin to get a live project off the ground now. Hell, I struggle to pay my rent a lot of the time.

How could Miss Graves be so clueless?

How could this city and our moronically out of touch city council and mayor?
Underpaid workers: take note! -- & & .