Monday, July 10, 2006

Art for the Soul or Art to Sell?

Well, as the list continues with it's ongoing discussion of cows, pigs, patterns etc. someone mentioned the issue of making art from our soul versus making art to sell.

When my children were young, I used to make a lot of baby quilts and sell them at Children's fairyland in Oakland, CA. Most were from patters...that is before the big brouhaha over making things and selling them from patterns. It was a way to could earn a little extra money for my fabric. I have also done assorted types of greeting cards, especially when I was working. This was an easy way for me to be creative, without putting a lot of time or thought in to what I was doing. I sold those also.

Now I just make art that comes from within. Is it all ART FROM THE SOUL? Well, it comes from inside me.

Does it have angst? No.
Was it all hard to do? No.
Did I wrestle with the design? No.
Did I worry about the color choices? No.
Did I stay up forever trying to decide just how to quilt it? No.

Now, why do I say no to many of these things? Isn't art supposed to be gut wrenching in the making? I don't think so.

I believe that the more we make, the easier it gets. Like learning the rules. When you learn the rules, think out loud about them as you are doing them, and make them a part of your brain, then they are very easy to use without thinking. Same thing with color. One needs to become color confident and that comes from doing a lot of work to see what works and what doesn't.

In order to do a lot of work, it helps to work small. That way we can do a lot of stuff and get a lot of practice. Too many people on the LIST get too concerned about if something is art or not, will it sell, what size should it be to get into whatever show they would like, what does the judge like, etc?

Just do the work. It isn't until you have a body of work together that you are in a position to start showing it out there.

When I retired, the first year and a half were spent in producing work. I started entering shows during the second year and continued, with the goal of getting my work out there in quilt and art shows. I have won awards in art shows. I have won awards in quilt shows. I don't win top awards in quilt shows because I am not always as careful as I should be on the backs of my quilts and sometimes the bindings aren't straight or done with the proper stitching in the corner of the miter. Oh well. Does that bother me? NO.

Because my work is getting out there, it is selling. Now that is validation! That is what I want? Why would I want to make one quilt every other year that is perfect and will win big awards in every show I enter it in? Well, maybe that would be nice because there is far more money in the quilt show awards in the big shows than there is in the art shows. But, more work sells in the art shows.

I have a big pile of art of various sizes (that look like quilts) piled on the bed. I also have about 40 pieces that are out at various galleries and shows. And right now I have two fused, large pieces that need to be sandwiched and stitched, another one that is almost finished in it stitching, a piece made with resisted dyeing that needs to be stitched, one that is partly stitched and two that need to get sleeves put on so they can go out to shows. Plus tons of pieces that need to have labels made for them!

But, I have now had an art consultant come to me to see about selling my work (now that is the really easy way and boy does it feel good). That is what I want!

Boy that list is getting to me! Would you believe I don't read it much but just scan the index in the digests?


Anonymous said...

It is a brave artist/crquilter who puts their pieces up for sale. I am not that person. Lack of what.....I don't know. When someone buys a piece that you've created, it must be such a great feeling to know that your art has stirred this persons mind/spirit/soul. Does the piece lose the spirit of the creator upon the sale? Of course not. It is always with the piece. This is what a person will look for in a piece of art. People own pieces of Goghan, Matisse, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Would you think they are NOT pieces of art because they were sold and not kept by the artists? Liz I think we need to do coffee someday. Coming to Michigan anytime soon? :)

Debra said...

It's late, and I will come back to read this completely tomorrow. However, I saw your comment at the top.. and I've read many others over the past week. I am so glad that I've gone "no mail" on the QA list. When I have time, I can go to the archives and read the one or three articles that interest me.. but miss the waste of time.

Gerrie said...

I am about ready to leave the list, too. You always give the sagest advice and comments. Thank you for being out there. It is interesting as I look back over the past year and look at the work I have sold. It has all been work from my heart and soul - pieces that I made with no thought of ever selling them. I think I need to concentrate on doing what I love and the art crtitics be damned!!

TALL GIRL said...

As one who has always marched to her own drummer, I wholeheartedly agree, LizB.

Since I morphed into a "flaky artist" 8 years ago, I have been bombarded with the "you could sell that" comments. I have learned this is actually the capitalistic voice of approval. Put a price tag on it and it has value!

I do my best work when I create from my soul and not for the marketplace. If it sells, fabulous, but that is not my motivation for doing the work.

My motivation is it saves my life.

Anonymous said...

Liz..well said and I totally agree..anyone that is serious about their "art" does it because they can't live without doing's the planning, the process, the finishing, the getting it out there into the real world. If it sells, great, if it doesn't, great, I can look at it for a while longer. Louise

Claire said...

Hi Liz, I left the list about a year and a half ago. I couldn't participate, I had nothing to add so I left. There seemed to be too many people looking for a fight, and I don't know why.

I like blogging a thousand times more because I can post photos and talk freely about my work without censure or fear. And I love looking at photos of other artists' work and reading what they are willing to share. An email list can't do that.

Anyway, thanks for sharing, you elucidated some of my feelings :-)


PaMdora said...

Nice post Liz. I used to agonize about how could I make art that was profound and important enough for people to notice me. Then one day, I dropped all that a went back to my roots, just drawing silly drawing that amused me, and was pleasantly surprised when other people liked them. I try to remember this and not get too caught up in the game.

I'm also sick of the crud on the list. Seems like there's hardly anything interesting or informative like there was when I first signed up. I'm scanning topic lines and mostly deleting. I guess I hope it will get better because I do feel a little more linked. Blogs are nice, but take so much time to sort through.

Frances said...

Liz it was me who posted the work from the heart or work to sell post, I chose the word 'work' and not 'art' intentionally, this is the main part of my post:
I put my work into 2 categories,

Art which I do for me and if anyone else likes it is a bonus but not a necessity and if it sells it's a double bonus,

Craft where I look at the market and try to evaluate what people who can afford might buy and create with this knowledge in mind, I refuse to call this work Art because it does not come from my heart but it is what sells more,

I also find it very interesting that the work that comes from my heart if it is liked and bought it is an Artist working in another medium that buys most times but it has always sold to an artist where as the craft items sell to non artists,