Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ars Gratia Artis

So, I've been around Etsy long enough to see all the "big" questions brought up, argued ad nauseam and fade away completely unresolved only to be revisited again & again & again. Etsy was the very first forum I ever participated in, so this was an entirely new experience for me. Nearly two years later with the return of the Alchemy feature, a new round has begun.

Rather that join in the fray there, I've decided to express my opinions here. The first subject I'd like to wax poetic about is: Artistic integrity or art for arts sake vs. creating for customers. When I first began tatting, I was only making simple objects like bookmarks and small doilies. As I got better I began making things I'd like to wear and when I started selling my work, that was what I was making. Some very well meaning sellers suggested that I start making things in colors because "people on etsy like color", so I did & I sold some things, but I wasn't really happy with a lot the pieces. Eventually I gave up trying to please people and now I only make pieces that I would wear, if I didn't have a 1 year old pulling at my jewelry that is.

Why do I bring all this up? Well it got me thinking about how we decide what we're gonna make next. I used to run to the forums and ask for advice, hoping that people would just tell what to make & then proceed to purchase whatever they had asked for. I imagine that is why people like alchemy so much. Why make things that may never sell, when you can make something with a ready made customer. I'll tell you why, it's kind of boring & doesn't give you the chance to really grow as an artist or artisan. I'm not saying that alchemy is bad, in fact I quite enjoy it, but when people spend all their time trolling the listings, they're just stressing themselves out when they could be making something they love to make.

Sorry if I started rambling on, it's my way. The bottom line here is, who really makes what they love & who spends a little too much time worrying about what people will like & buy?

I think you've got to find a happy medium or your days crafting for cash are fraught with frustration and are likely to end sooner rather than later. I'm really happy for those sellers that have found a niche that allows them to make lots o' money making things they love, but that's not the path for everyone. Maybe your craft should just stay your hobby & isn't a small business after all. I don't really believe that I can make a living with my tatting, but it keeps me sane and happy. That's why I only make what I like to make, do you?


Enthral said...

Interesting thoughts. I haven't made up my mind about alchemy yet.

elisebeth said...

My Etsy shop and my crafting are deinitely a hobby. I work full-time, so I really don't make things to make a profit on (I just don't have time!). If someone buys from me - great! But I only list things that I like to make, and that I'm proud of. I don't think I would enjoy just mass-producing something if customers ask for it and like it.

But kudos to anyone who can make things that they enjoy AND if it sells well on Etsy!

Octavine Illustration said...

it's so important to be happy with your chosen path, regardless of its financial gain. at least that what i keep telling myself, anyway. wonderful blog and your work is simply incredible. what a fine tatter your are. your love for it shows through.

Sleepy Cat Hollow said...

Well put! For me, I make things that I like...that way if it doesn't sell it still has a happy home with me! :-) The same with my soaps...I make what I like to use.

Clyde said...

When it comes to tatting I only make what I like and my reason for this is I know that if I like what I am making I will give it my best effort. If I am not crazy about it then it is hard to be inspired. Life is to short to be doing things you do not enjoy.