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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Confidence in Yourself, Your Art

Today I was reading through some of the business threads on Etsy and one person wrote about closing her shop. Her reason for considering this really hit me and apparently a few others. Though I responded in the way I believe outwardly, I realized that my words did not reflect completely the way I feel inwardly.

This person felt she was not selling her jewelry or crafts on Etsy or to her friends because no one thinks of it as ART. Her friends have called her jewelry "cute" and have bought some, but want her to reduce her prices. It was obvious in her writing that she wasn't very confident that her jewelry or craft items were art. GUESS WHAT? A lot of the responses she received were people trying to convince her to stay on etsy, to sell in other places, not worry what other people thought and to have more confidence in herself and her work. I was one of those people.

I have to say up front, I am not always that confident in my art. I have a love of color that goes back to my earliest memory. The problem I had was no one to nurture it even though the people around me had artistic abilities. They knew I could dance, but no one saw any other artistic skills in me. I would try different things and as I look back, some attempts were not bad for a beginner. I just didn't realize I needed some guidance. Eventually a friend showed me the basics of jewelry making. My ideas of color are really coming together for me now.

However, I am still fairly new to this art. Stringing beads together is not looked at as art by some people. Jewelry to me, though, is art. Someone has to create it whether or not it is super "artsy" handmade jewelry or mass produced jewelry, somewhere along the line someone created it. Some is simple, some is complicated and some as the saying goes about ugliness and beauty, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

I use a lot of Swarovski Crystals in my jewelry because the colors are so vast and beautiful to me. This makes some artist turn their noses up at me - literally. I also like to work with other materials. My jewelry is mostly simple, because I like it that way. I will, eventually, expand myself as all artists do, but for now I'm happy. I enjoy it, I'm comfortable with it, and I like the colors I'm finding.

I am not confident like I should be. I don't refer to my jewelry as art to many of my family members and friends as I know I should. Which brings me back to the person and the thread on Etsy today. I learned a few things there that apply to all artists no matter what your medium or how broadly you are known.
  • 1. Always refer to your art as art.
  • 2. Always refer to yourself as an artist, even if you are a hobbyist artist.
  • 3. Becoming known for your art takes time, so be patient.
  • 4. Selling your art takes time and work, because you are building a business.
  • 5. There are many venues for selling your work, online and offline and not all of them are suitable for all art forms.
  • 6. Network with other artists, they are usually friendly and helpful, Etsy forums is just one very good example.
  • 7. Know what your art is worth and don't let others talk you into selling it cheap.
  • 8. Selling it cheap will not necessarily get you sales.
  • 9. Getting to know your market, who are the people who will enjoy your art most.
  • 10. Being an artist is a job, no one has to know its fun!

I hope some of this will help someone else. Just writing about it has made me stop and rethink my own vision of art and my own art. I don't expect to ever make a huge living out of making jewelry, but that's because of my health issues related to Lupus not because I'm a poor artist. I just can't handle physically the demands to build a business of any size. I can enjoy my art at about a hobbyist level, but that doesn't mean I'm not an artist. I intend to go forward with more confidence.

How about you?

That's my view today. Thanks for stopping by!

Wendy

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Valentin'e's Day Is Still Approaching!

I know I already wrote about how I feel about Valentine's Day and Romance, so this is not going to be a repeat. I don't know how many people even care about the commercialization of romance and all that. It was just something I need to say, partly for myself, partly for my adult children and partly for anyone who might feel the same way I do.

This time I'm hoping someone will comment about what things they like to get for Valentine's Day. Do you like traditional gifts such as jewelry, chocolates, or flowers? Maybe you like something a bit less traditional such as bowling balls, kitchen appliances or personalized towels? Do you like mushy cards? Or are you the kind who loves those funny and irreverent ones?

I want to hear about it! Give me your comments - clean ones please, the kids might be reading.

Thanks for bringing your view to the sidecar this time!
Wendy
SHOUT OUT! SHOUT OUT! SHOUT OUT!
Here's a shout out to a wonderful etsy.com artist, H2Oworks! This artist does Fine Art, Digital Photography, ACEOs, Greeting Cards, Photo Cards, Mini Note Cards, and Tags. Also from this shop you will find Graphic Design Services. Beautiful work and a friendly artist! The shop address is www.H2Oworks.etsy.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Valentine's Day is coming!

I've been watching all the Valentine's day hoopla now ever since Christmas week was over! The Santa's and reindeer were shoved to one corner in all of the stores to make room for all of the plush teddy bears and heart shaped boxes. The snowmen shaped chocolates were discounted and moved almost out of sight and out came the rose shaped chocolates and cupid paper wrapped gooey treats. The Valentine cards have been out almost as long as all of the other cute little items and the jewelry stores made over their commercials to catch your heart. Yep! Valentine's Day is definitely coming soon!!

Don't get me wrong. I am a romantic just like any other female on this planet. I love the chocolates, the teddy bears and jewelry. In fact, I MAKE and SELL jewelry! I am hoping with all I've got that someone will BUY my jewelry! That's not quite where I'm going here.

I feel as though the real romance has been lost on Valentine's Day. There is no need to think about it. The stores hand you the cards with the words you are to say to your sweetheart. Then they tell you here are some tempting chocolates and flowers (it must be roses). You might want to add a nice stuffed animal or an expensive piece of jewelry (watch TV for the special piece for this year). Tradition says you should then go to dinner (the more expensive you can afford, the better), dancing is optional. You will notice that this all sounds like the man is expected to do all the spending except for the card. If you are married, living together or have some other special arrangement, the woman might like to indulge in pretty lingerie to surprise her mate, but here again the man may be expected to do the purchasing in some relationships. I rarely see anything special laid out for woman to buy and do for men.

AND really, where IS the romance in all of this? The stores and the media and even our own society have brought us to the point that Valentine's Day has come with expectations. Every year its the same ones, too. How is that romantic? I find romance in the little things, the surprises and in doing for my husband.

Hey everyone! Why not plan a picnic in February? Go to your local zoo? Spend the night at home dancing in your living room to your favorite music and drinking Champagne? Go ice skating? How about hiking and hold hands for once in a long time? Why not try going to www.etsy.com to purchase handmade items which will be different than the standard store bought items? I'm sure everyone can think of things that they haven't done in a long time together or maybe never together that could be made into a romantic time. Romance isn't chocolate and jewelry or even a sexy encounter. It can be a quiet moment shared or time together that you wouldn't normally set aside because you have a busy life. It can be what the stores and traditions have made it, too.

Just remember to make it YOUR feeling, Your moment, YOUR romance!

Thanks for checking out my view from the sidecar!
Wendy