You know the best advice I can give an artist seeking to sell for profit is to follow your heart when it comes to creativity and listen to your customers’ feedback.
Every time I’ve ever tried to do something my heart wasn’t really into, from that creative artistic point of view, it never would sell well.
In the beginning, I got a lot of shoulds on what to make from peers and others who had input to give me, but who weren’t ever buying from me. “You should make dog clothes!” I don’t own dogs and I don’t know the first thing about shaping for them, I don’t think so. “You should make purses!” Well, I might make a couple, but if I’m not really a bag lady myself, how can I possibly find it interesting enough to create them for profit or be in tune with what people want in a crochet purse. “I just want to see you succeed,” another artist told me at a show after giving unsolicited advice.
And you know what else? Not once has a customer treated me that way either. Kind of interesting. Maybe they like my ideas just the way they are.
And that’s just it. I have always succeeded by being me. And not by trying to imitate someone else.
I believe people buy handmade and art because they are expressions of someone, and they are drawn to that spirit. When it’s authentic, they’re fans. When it’s not, there’s nothing to distinguish you the individual from someone else. And when we listen to fans and to the people who are actually putting money into our hands, we’re listening to people who have tapped into our creative spirit. Which can be really helpful when we’re feeling a bit lost and need direction.
Anyway, so though it sounds clichéd, seriously – follow your heart in your craft. Pour yourself into it. And if you can’t? If there’s a block? Then find an avenue that isn’t blocked. Nowhere does it say that you have to be a yellow pencil. Be inspired by someone? Sure. But genuinely do your own thing!
2 responses to “Follow Your Heart – It’s Not Really That Clichéd – Crochet Ruminations”
I’ve been thinking about this recently, as the words of my art teacher are haunting me.
At school I couldn’t produce accurate line drawings of antique sewing machines, like the other kids. He told me that I had my own style, and that was really great, but would never be able to do it. He told me to be true to my style and develop it, or I would not be happy. Then he gave me a rock containing flecks of quartz and I made a glorious mixed media.
I feel I’m at a hurdle. I’m not happy with some of my products, but I am very proud of others. It’s difficult, but I think I need to be brave.
Thanks for your comment Caroline! Your story is a great illustration! 🙂
Couple things I’d offer while you contemplate direction.
1) Without any thought to money or business, what would you really like to make? No justification or shoulds, just what is your heart drawn to from a creative view. Pick something familiar and pick something adventurous. Having adventurous projects on the side, even if there’s no way I can produce them en mass, always helps keep my creative spirit fed so my more mundane and less interesting projects can still feed on that energy.
2) All growth in life requires us to be pushed out of our comfort zone, at least a little. And that often requires a little risk. This is never more true than being in business. If anything, it’s essential to business survival. Sometimes we need to try things just to learn what we don’t really want to do, and sometimes so we can be introduced to a new love. Every year I re-evaluate my products, how business went, what I want to change up and what I want to add. Keep it simple and be forgiving! 🙂