Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Starving Artist

I know a lot of you out there sell your craft/artwork. I've been toiling over a matter lately on which I'd love your opinion.

The question is: Do you sell your work so you can make more crafts/art, or do you make your crafts/art so you can sell them?

There's a fine line between the two. I used to think it was more noble to use sales solely as a means to empty out the studio, making more room for future works. Of course one likes to make money for one's hard work, but should works be made for the purpose of being sold, or simply for the purpose of existing?

I suppose it all depends on what you are creating. While candles can be artistic to some extent, I'd find it hard to call them works of art. But still, do I engage in the act of creating candles because I love to create candles? Or do I create candles so I can sell them and make money?

Am I a sell-out if I create products for an upcoming sale rather than using an upcoming sale to purge my studio?

The longer I'm in business the more nobility I give to creating for the purpose of selling. In my line, at least, I put the customer first. At this particular boutique I know the clientele likes drink charms, while at that store the clientele loves beeswax candles. I'm going to create with the customer in mind rather than indulge myself in the studio.

It all depends on what your art/craft is, I guess. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about it. Is it really such a bad thing to be a successful artist? Who says the good ones have to starve?


Heidi said...

I create for many reasons but the biggest one is my NEED to be creative. If I am doing an show or sale, I absolutely create things I know will sell. They may not be very artistically creative (bath bombs and such) but I do enjoy making them.

I do not think anyone who makes decent money from anything they are crafting is a sell out. I have things I create to sell and things I create because I visualize them and have a need to make them tangible.

I do find for me, that if I am not taking the time to create just for the sake of being creative - my life lacks something I really need and I get downright crabby!
I am fortunate to belong to a great online Indie Art Group (mixed media heaven)called ZNE. It has been the best thing I have done for my artistic soul in a very long time. You connect with artists and crafters from all walks and on a global scale. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the time. The main site is on Ning but we recently have some public blogs going:
ZNE art & poetry and ZNE dolls - you can locate them by google.

Happy crafting and creating!!

CACreations said...

I personaly create because I like to craft and I like to try new things, but I can really only use so many baby quilts or so many hats. But I love to see the finished products and the different color combos so I need to make more.

However, to justify my fabric fetis and other crafting supplies that my husband questions I need to try and sell things.

I do try and think of things that the customers will like so they will sell so I can buy more things to try more things. It's a circle that never ends. So far I'm way in the hole, but I'm hoping someday I'll start to recoup costs.

We're all here because we have a crafting soul that needs a creative outlet. Sure sometimes we may get lost, but we always find our crafty home again. That doesn't make anyone a sell out.

Sure you may make alot of one type of a candle and you may not feel creative, but it funds your next mold or you new type of material or scent that will make a creative mix. Plus it brings pleasure to both you and your customer. Think of all the things your candles may have seen :)

Anonymous said...

Think of it this way: every craft started out as a means to fill a need. Cobblers, chandlers, seamstresses/tailors, carpenters, etc all filled a need at one point. Somewhere along the line (perhaps we have the industrial revolution to thank for this), these things became art.

You can bet the original "artists" accepted compensation, be it monetary or barter. This isn't selling out. Everyone has their own needs that need filling; we all have to eat, wear clothes, live in a house.

Not everyone these days is cut out to count beans and push pencils. It's an American fallacy--no one has trades anymore. If we did, our economy probably wouldn't suck so much. Take pride in what you do, and don't feel bad for requiring compensation. You can't keep doing what you love without it.

Prairie Primitives Folk Art said...

i create to put a smile on someone's face. some days that's mine ... when something turns out exceptionally well.

other days it's seeing a smile on a customer's face ... when they see something they just HAVE to have.

and then, well, it's mine again ... when they buy it! :-)

Glorious Hats said...

It seems to me that it can ebb and flow, depends on what condition we are in at the time. If the money is needed to survive, one looks to survival first and which avenue will keep them alive and safe.

The best of all is when what we love to create has a ready market.

On the other hand, sometimes it stretched us to please another and come up with a product they adore. Also making multiples or many similar items can help fine tune techniques.

Some artists talk about "rent makers" and balance the rent makers with finer less marketable art - but sometimes when the less marketable art does sell - it covers rent for many months.

Just thoughts, hope they help.

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