Friday, December 05, 2008

trends, cycles and finding one's own "voice"

I've been involved this week in two converging conversations on line -- it's interesting how two totally unconnected groups of artists discuss some of the same things

So, let us begin with a confession: I'm what I would consider an "ambitious artist". I love to create things -- all kinds of things -- and in order to continue to do that I need to sell at least some of them.

Besides that, I have, for as long as I can remember, had that "I want to be the best at something and I want every body know it" thing in my head -- I guess now days they'd call that wanting to be "popular", but that's not really the same thing, in my opinion.

I am also a totally unfocused artist --- I have never been able to just do one thing, which may be the reason that I'm not really good at either selling or winning awards.

This week on one of the email lists that I belong to, someone posted about a big Dale Chihuly Exhibit, praising his work, etc., etc.

For me this once again set off the question that I have struggled with for years as a bear artist --- what defines an "artist" bear versus what is a "manufactured" bear --- I have for years worked under the idea that an "artist" bear is one made entirely by the designer(s), and a "manufactured" bear is designed by an artist then made in quantities by skilled labor. My husband and I make artist bears --- now days especially, many of our pieces are a collaboration of skills (he does pattern design, cutting, jointing; I do sewing, stuffing, finishing) and nearly every piece is a one of a kind.

Evidently this destinction does not apply to the "big A" art world, as it was pointed out to me quite clearly by others on the mailing list --- in the "big A" art world, especially in sculpture, and large installation art, one designer with many workers appears to be the norm.

At the same time that I was reading and responding to those emails, there were some quite interesting posts in another place regarding Etsy and the whole host of Stampington Press publications.

I have never been one to pay any attention to trends. When I was a child and a teenager it simply didn't matter if I wanted to do so or not --- it was not an option, and as an adult I just never got there.

I like what I like.

A while back I had submitted some pieces to one of the Stampington Press magazines for consideration, and was told that my pieces didn't fit in with anything they were doing right now. When I told my daughter about that her response was sure and swift --- "mom, your stuff is not "ugly" enough"

Now by ugly she means that sort of worn, primitive, folk art style that seems to be the current rage among the 20 to 40 age group that is snapping up those publications and doing the most crafting/selling/buying on Etsy.

I don't do that kind of pieces.

My tastes are more simple, elegant, clean and yes, occasionally very bold and ornate.

I've tried from time to time to make pieces (bears, jewelry) that I think will sell

Usually that sort of effort is a big failure, not only on the sales end, but as being personally satisfying to make ---- those are a lot more like work, and it would be more profitable financially to go flip burgers

So, the question becomes, how to find that niche market --- I have to believe that there are other 40+ women with similar tastes, but there does not appear to be any place on line that is paying any attention to us "old folks"

Meantime, today after over a year as a shop owner on Etsy, I made my first sale out of the shop. It is a custom order for a dog toy. I'll take it.

But I'm still looking for a place that will be a good venue for my "art pieces", and hoping the style trends will cycle around to my point of view.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

I like your art, Bev! I just wish I could afford it.