Thursday, August 14, 2008

Crossroads or Crisis?

I often think about my art work in the "why" sense. Or I should say the "where is this all going?" sense.
Lately, many things have come up that have made me consider selling my art. Should I do it or not? In one case, the local farmer's market invited me to join them, but I had no inventory to speak of to sell, and no tent, and no supplies, and in the end I think I made the right decision. I often get asked if I make my small weekly quilts to sell. Well, no. They are too personal to sell. I then think about patterns. "Oh, I'll make patterns and sell them til the cows come home" and think about funding my hobby with the income. Right. Somehow, the art is still to great an emotional investment to part with. I haven't found the price I would be willing to be paid to part with it (unless I was making it for a gift). So no selling for me.

I then thought at the beginning of this year that maybe I was meant to enter contests, and make art to show in that arena. I can't seem to find the time to work on the project in enough time. The deadline approaches (or passes) and I'm not ready, or the work is very not ready. This was tough, because I wanted to "get out there" and "be seen" and "make a name for myself". But if I work full time, how can I meet the deadlines? I love my career, but want to be an "artist" too. After several attempts at entries into shows this year, without any real success at getting the ENTRY done, I'm going to put this off until I have a year with a little less travel and more free time. I'm not giving up, just delaying a bit.

So that brings me back to "Where is this whole thing headed?" Why do I make quilts? Why am I making this art? It's not to give away, it's not to sell or turn into patterns, it's not for a contest. It's for me. Why does being an artist need to be for one of those reasons? I fi said I did it because I like it, it would be half truthful. It feels like there is much more to it than that, but I can't put my finger on what.

I'm 35 years old. This hobby of mine has an average age of about 55-ish, so I have 20 years to perfect this craft of mine and get to a point of being comfortable with this in my mind. I'm not the first or the last who will go through this, but it kind of sucks when it's happening to you.


Megan said...

I understand your predicament. I work hard and frequently long hours at a job I love but doesn't pay all that well. Why? Well because the intangible benefits outweigh the monetary (and time) gain I'd get by going elsewhere. The beauty of art is that it shouldn't have to be justified or to earn its keep.

frazzledsugarplummum said...

I agree with Megan that art "...shouldn't have to be justified or to earn its keep." Sometimes I think about selling and competing but i can see that leading to a whole lot of stress as I try to reach standards or do saleable items. I "do what I do because I want and have to" and don't sweat the Why.

I love your work. It has a freshness and quirkiness to it. Thanks for encourages me.Shirley

Serene and Not Herd said...

Keep taking photos, and maybe setup a full online gallery, or Flickr page.

That way you can keep them, and the rest of us can enjoy seeing them.


Cyber Fyber said...

Today I'm working on the ATC labels for the upcoming CYBER FYBER exhibition. This brought me by your wonderful blog and this insightful post. I remember wanting to "get out there" and "sell" and "make a name for myself" and all those other things. It is a stressful situation. There is no minimizing it. Once a piece is sold, it is gone. Since those days, I did decide to enter juried opportunities and sell work, etc. I am thrilled with this decision but I also know that I don't have to sell every fact, now I've got pieces that I'd really like to sell just to acquire more storage place. There are still some pieces that I did sell and do miss. My work isn't paying for itself...yet; but the monetary benefits aren't the reasons I decided to sell and aren't the justifications for making more work. Being creative is the only justification one needs for making art. It is a lifestyle, a state of mind, a happiness, and an end in itself. Just thought I'd add these comments. Good luck with whatever you decide to do! Thank you for trading with me at CYBER FYBER!
PS You can visit my current work at I haven't figured out a price for any of the Decision Portrait Series or even figured out if they will be for sale yet! I'm thinking about solo exhibition...of the group. I'll decide the rest a year or so!

Vicki said...

Hi I too understand your predicament - my husband often asks when will there be enough quilts, so now I am turning to smaller pieces. I also ask myself "why" and try hard not to think that it is just for myself - because if it is I feel really guilty, I'm not saying that I should feel guilty or that anyone else should feel guilty but that is how I feel. I totally agree that it shouldn't have to be justified at all.

Anyway, love your stuff and I will be staying tuned.