I have been making things all my life. As a child I made clothes for my dolls, as a teen I made my own clothes and as an adult I have dabbled in various media. I’m not exactly sure when I crossed the line from making art, creating for the sake of enjoying the creative process, to making product to make a living.
It was probably around the time when I became tired of working for someone else, having to be at a job that had no creativity and I had no control over what happened. I opened my first business in 1989, just prior to the birth of my son and I’ve never looked back. I had my craft gallery for almost ten years, and when I realized that in its current form, it would never be profitable, I closed it. The deciding factor was when I realized that I wasn’t making art, or selling my own art, just other people’s art. This has been a deciding factor in all I’ve done over the years since then.
Once again the factor of making product vs making art has become a factor. Currently I am still finding that balancing act. When I injured my hand, and basically had to stop making all the products that I make, I still had that creative urge. Initially, I couldn’t do anything, which frustrated me to no end. But to knit, would make me incapacitated for days. I tried weaving, spinning, sewing all with the same result. That is when I started making the dress forms as therapy. To keep me creating, but not hurting myself. I was making art for me. Art for the sake of creating. It didn’t matter whether I sold these pieces or not. In fact, one of the pieces is my personal collage. A collage of me and who I’ve become, which I will never sell.
But now that I’m healing and I’m able to do more, I’ve started spinning occasionally and the “make product” monster has raised it’s head again. The “oohh, people love handspun yarn” monster. The “maybe you should make some project bags again and sell them” monster. The “maybe you should go back and do what you used to do” monster that wants to keep you from moving forward and creating your new life, free of those old encumbrances.
Sometimes it’s hard to not go back to the familiar, to what you know works. But what I’ve come to realize is that old familiar isn’t doing me any favors. I have an amazing number of new things I want to create. I have a new business in the works that will be profitable, and will keep me interested. It won’t feel like drudgery, like making project bags became.
Sometimes I think tests like this are the universe’s ways of seeing if this is really the direction I want to go. Every time I hit an obstacle, it makes me stop and look at it and ask myself “do you really want to do this.” It makes me make a conscious decision, instead of just reacting to fears or indecision. It helps me to get clear on what the hell I’m doing here and will it help me to reach my goals. I don’t have all the answers yet, but at least I’m not doing the same old stuff.
I really like my new art. I still like my old “products” but I look at them in a different light. Now, they are something I can do, something I know how to make and use, but no longer do they have the drudgery attached to them.
And who knows, maybe some day I’ll decide to let go of some of my art and sell it. There’s got to be people out there that think what I make is kind of cool too, right?