Video: Drawing down debt

How artist Kate Bingaman-Burt shared her debt with the world, started a new career


Talk about a creative way to “draw down” debt.

Instead of Excel sheets or a money journal, graphic designer turned illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt made herself draw out every one of her credit card statements until she paid them off. She says it was a painful process, like “me standing in front of a chalkboard writing: ‘I will not be stupid with money over and over and over again.’”

Not only did the Portland, Oregon, artist illustrate the statements, but she turned her personal project into a public one, posting them online for the world to see.

Instead of drawing criticism, she found herself creating a community as emails started pouring in from others in her position. As an assistant professor in graphic design, even her students started using her office hours as a therapy session for debt anxiety. 

“I accidentally turned into this credit card priest confessional outlet,” she recalls. 

Bingaman-Burt then decided to ramp up her project. 

“I would sell my credit card drawings for the price of whatever the minimum balance was,” she says.

Although she considered it a way to creatively close the transaction part of her project rather than a way to make money, it did help.

Soon enough she found herself with not only a clean debt slate, but also a new career as an illustrator.

Once her debt was gone, she continued on for eight years, drawing a purchase she made every day with her credit card – as a memento of what even tiny items can add up to when ignored.

“It’s just wanting people to be conscious with their acts and to be an active participant in their consumer lives,” Bingaman-Burt explains. 

The kind of art that gets you out of debt, instead of putting you into it. 

See related: Video: How a side hustle can help you pay down debt

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Updated: 11-21-2017