Thursday, August 7, 2008

Production Artist

You remember the guy from the movie Xanadu, you know the sensitive artist, stuck in the creatively castrating job of replicating album covers for record stores. His coworkers were wont to remind him that he was just lucky to be a working artist. Well not all of us have a muse in roller skates and feathered hair to solve our creative versus income dilemmas. I am currently finding myself in a similar quandary. My shop has been selling well recently, well enough anyway, and this has left me remaking sold items more often than creating new designs. I have even less time and energy to make one of a kind items either.

So what is one to do at this juncture? I still enjoy making my existing designs, so I could concentrate on that and keep my store well stocked, but I'm afraid I would eventually want my own roller disco to engage my creative side again. While thinking about this topic, I began thinking about fashion or jewelry collections. While I have no idea if it really works like this or not, I assume that they design for a period, produce the line, stop production to design for the next season and repeat the process. This may be a solution though it might be a little too structured for me. Imagine I spend a month creating new designs then simply make those designs over and over for a few months. Then take a break from production to go into design mode again. I don't know that I have the discipline for that process, what if i come up with an amazing idea during production phase. Can I put the idea on ice and not return to it for months?

Of course this raises other issues as well. Am I a sell out, if I simply remake a popular design repeatedly to get sales? Do other artisans lose respect for a production artist or is it a simple case of jealously over success? I am in no way implying that I've become popular enough to inspire said jealously, but I do wonder about these things. Should I even bother worrying about what others might think of my creative process if it still makes me happy? I guess I should just go with the flow and not worry about it so much. I figure I'll know when remaking a design is draining the life out of me and that's when I'll stop in favor of creation, but if you see me complaining and not stopping, feel free to beat some sense into me.


Jrahn said...

Complaints about people who become successful are usually derived from those who lack success themselves. The only opinions that matter in your life should be that of your closest friends and family. As long as what you do makes you happy, you are a success in my book. Whether you become wealthy or not, Happiness is very underrated. People get too wrapped up with ideals and politics to just enjoy themselves sometimes.

Sarah Dungan said...

There's an quote “I'd love to sell out completely. It's just that nobody has been willing to buy.”

Selling out has become to synonymous with selling ANYTHING, as if making something someone else might actually BUY is by itself selling out. Which is of course ridiculous.

You can't sell out by reproducing your OWN designs because they sell well. You designed them in the first place, that someone likes them is great.

Joei Reed said...

I make hats, and I have models that I make multiple times. Quite frankly I don't have the time to make enough hats to keep them ALL in stock at once, so most of the time what I do is make items to order. It does get a little tedious when, say, I'm making six bridal veils at once, each with only slight modifications in design. You do end up feeling a little more like a sweatshop worker than an artisan. But, I prefer to give my customers as wide a selection of items as possible, so that means I keep all my designs available to them. So that's the upside, just having more variety to offer. I also offer custom designs, and I actually spend quite a bit of time making those, so that's more of a creative outlet. Between the two, it's actually somewhat difficult to find the time to make new designs of my own - I have, in fact, been sitting on listings for several new hats for weeks, because I was waiting to get good photos and I've been too busy filling orders. So it is a balancing act. But I figure I have to make the time to do new designs because that's the most fun part!

thebeadedlily said...

Maybe when you get tired of a design you could increase the price to compensate you for the lack of energy it leaves to do new things.

Waterrose said...

I don't think I would worry about it if you are still handmaking your lovely designs. Now if you sell your pattern and the pieces begin being made by lowly paid workers in other countries, or by machine, then I'd worry about it. Even if you recreate your designs, how many people out of the millions will actually have that piece?