The July/August Jewelry Artisans Community Blog Carnival is about whether or not we sacrifice our artistic integrity by selling our designs.
While I sold my work locally in a couple of small galleries, I resisted online selling for several years because of my concerns that I'd start churning out assembly line work in the hopes of sales or that I'd find myself making things that I hated because it was popular with buyers or that I'd end up following every trend that came along in order to make sales. It's a heady feeling to have perfect strangers buy one's work over the internet and it's hard to resist that excitement.
As it has turned out, I don't believe that I've changed how I do things because I'm selling my products. I still make things I like or that I enjoy making. I use colors that aren't trending and I create designs based on the inspiration I find all around me. I don't like to get stuck using one particular type of material or doing the same kind of technique over and over which means there is a little bit of everything in my shop from wire work to little original paintings to resin to macrame. Some would say my shop lacks cohesiveness, but what can I say, I like variety.
I laugh about it now, but back when I started out, I was convinced my jewelry was going to be the next big thing and that my Etsy shop would be so wildly popular that I'd have difficulty keeping up. Because that didn't happen, I've never really had to confront the selling vs creating question. Sure, I can write about it and talk about it all day long, but if I'm brutally honest with myself, I don't know how I would juggle artistic integrity with high demand.
Would I stay true to my artistic self and produce relatively few designs over a period of time or would I opt for easy and quick to make designs that I could turn out in high numbers? That is the question so many wrestle with. I like to think that I would choose the first option and limit myself to selling what I could produce at my own pace while still creating unique and one of a kind pieces. But...then the temptation of selling and making money from my art rears it's head. What to do? What to do?
I've come to the conclusion, that for me, an acceptable compromise is to spend part of my time making those easy and quick to make best selling designs while also allowing myself to spend an equal or greater amount of time making those things I love to make and that got me into making jewelry in the first place. Whether it's turning a fall leaf into a pendant, using some quirky found item in a design, wrapping a stone in some sort of free style wire wrap or learning a new technique, I could no more give up that part of my art than I could give up breathing.
Even though I'm not a high selling jewelry artist, I feel I have the best of both worlds. I sell just enough to buy the supplies and tools I need and that allows me to continue to pursue the ideas in my head and to continue to grow as an artist. I also think it's important to recognize that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each of us must decide what works best for us, what makes us happy and what we feel is a workable solution,
To see what the other participants of this blog carnival have to say on the subject, please click on the links below: