I’ve struggled for a while with feeling like everything I create I have to sell (or try to sell). This stems from a couple different reasons – one, I feel like I have to do everything I can to make extra money for rent (which somewhere along the way morphed into ‘everything I do has to make money’). Two, why shouldn’t I sell what I create? I make nice stuff, I put effort into it, and other people do great selling their [jewelry, art, etc]. Three, I like to create, but at a certain point I’ll have nowhere to store anything!
So for a few years I’ve worked on selling my art, but without any sense of consistency. I go off on tangents of jewelry making or embroidery or watercolor bookmarks. Which in some senses has been great – I get to focus on whatever is currently catching my attention and then just list it online. Every now and then something sells, and I have some great followers who stick with me through all the changes in media.
Now for the bad part: it really isn’t fun anymore. Every time I sit down to make something I’m already thinking about how I’m going to sell it, what the pricing should be, whether it’s something that’s easy to ship or not. And the quality of my work suffers – I simplify designs so that I can sell them without severely underpaying myself. Everything becomes about getting it done fast so that it can sell, and at a reasonable price point.
Which brings me to a few ideas I’ve come across over the past few months. First is that when you turn your passion into your work, you lose the love for it. Now I don’t necessarily think that’s always true, but you do have to be careful about how you handle it, and it really does have to be something you have real passion for in order to survive through the business plans and marketing and customers. Second is that not everything you do has to create income, despite everything we’re told in our capitalist society. It’s ok to have things for yourself that make you happy even if (especially if?) they don’t contribute financially. Third is that as an artist who makes a living (or a portion of it) through your art, you need hobbies outside of your art business, no matter how much you love it. You need that creative outlet that doesn’t come with the pressures of business and marketing, the freedom to just create and play without limitations.
I’m still going to be launching my pottery business, since that’s been my plan for years, and pottery is the one thing I’ve always really wanted to share with the world. But everything else is going back to being a hobby. I will spend time thinking up projects that really mean something to me or to my friends and family – the more complicated, the better! I’ll spend weeks and months adding detail without worrying about how long it’s taking and just revel in the act of creating.
So I’m going to be clearing out my Etsy shop and my Square shop – go ahead and claim anything you’ve had your eye on. If you’re poor like me, feel free to use the code CLEARANCE for 50% off. If there’s something you love and still can’t afford it, contact me and we’ll see if we can work something out. I’d rather have my art loved and viewed than sitting in a drawer!