In macroeconomics, the art versus butter model is an example of a simple creative possibility frontier. It shows the relationship between an artist’s investment in, and commitment to, creativity and the innate desire to avoid starvation. In this scenario, an artist has to choose between two options when spending his/her finite resources. An artist can either buy art (invest in supplies/promotion/education) or butter (invest in something to eat), or a combination of both. This results in a decision of balance culminating in a quandary based upon the determination of which element, art or butter, best fulfills his/her needs depending on the possibility of whether art can be edible, and is a ratio quantification of artistic spending in relationship to survival.

-definition partially courtesy of Wikipedia