Bees in my Bonnet

"art for real people"

Monday, October 30, 2006

Calling all ARTISTS!!!!!

Happy Monday everyone!

Well my last post stated that "I think I got my mojo back" and I guess this message will create some doubt about that! tee hee!

I have been examining the reason I make art these past few months and I think I've come up with the reason I feel so many ups and downs with my business!

Most artists....(I think)....make art as an expression of themselves. I would love to be able to do that! Maybe I'm just not as evolved as I need to be! I've realized lately that I make art for others. Now before you think I am getting all high and mighty on you....just remember.....I don't think my art is going to change the world or make THAT much of a difference in anyones life....BUT I do receive great joy from knowing that my art may have caused someone to smile or chuckle on a day when that may have been difficult!

Consequently when my art is selling and/or I am receiving lots of "strokes" from others about how my art may have touched them...even in a tiny way....I'm on top of the world! 'Course I'm sure you can guess what the opposite of that is! When things are slow AND I'm not getting too much feedback I am completely paralyzed! I sit in my studio with EVERYTHING I own layed out on the tables and floor and just stare at it!

I'm not writing this to nudge anyone into "action"! I am just hoping that my thoughts layed out in words will help me decide how I need to change to be able to cope with these realizations!

At the risk of sounding like a BROKEN RECORD this whole thing may still have to do with my older sister's passing in june OR the fact that I am totally burned out from making 365 atc's in one year. I don't know but I am beginning to "not know who I am" without this passion for art that has ALWAYS burned so bright that I sometimes couldn't even sleep! That's actually the reason my business is called....Bees in my Bonnet......Sometimes the ideas are so relentless that is't almost annoying!

I have always relied on my art sales to help pay the bills and although I never did break any sales records I was bringing in enough money to help close the gap. It has begun to dawn on me that:

1) I'm either going to need to figure out a way to "drum up" some business....

~OR~

2) I'm going to need to get a "real" job! YIKES!!!!

I guess the "sales" part of my business I really don't care for. I feel like I'm forcing myself on everyone when I try and keep my name "out there". Let's face it! There is sooooooooooooooooooo much competing for our attention or maybe just because as a nation we are so easily distracted that anyone in sales has to continually keep the new ideas rolling in AND promote their product if they expect to have any sucess. I think I'm just so tired of doing that and even though I know it is a necessary evil I just wish there were another way. (you know like being discovered and having agents bidding for a job and becoming rich doing what I love to do? something simple like that !!!)

Anyhoo...I would love to hear what you have to say about this subject. Any and all comments are welcome...be kind though...I am ridiculously sensitive! Remember to leave me your email address so that I can reply!

Thanks for you time!

Love to all!
Becky

http://www.beesinmybonnet.etsy.com

http://tinyurl.com/drshh

http://www.beckychristian.com






74 Comments:

Blogger Deb said...

Yes, Becky. You have hit the nail on the ugly head. What "sells" isn't always what an artist feels she wants to create. There must be a happy medium somewhere. I get so sick of hearing that an artist is "selling out" because she is actually doing something to make money. When someone else does it, it's called business acumen: when an artist does it, it's selling out. It's hard to do art for fun, though, isn't it - when you need money to pay the bills? I think a lot of artists suffer from the frustration you are feeling. Many mention to me that they wish they could quit their jobs, but they just can't. I don't know if there is an easy answer to this delemma - in fact, I'm sure there isn't. I am certain, though, that you were meant to create art. Maybe you need to take a break - a real break - and evaluate how NOT creating makes you feel (versus creating to sell and feeling stressed out). If you really, really miss it after a while - and my guess is that you will - perhaps you can find a way to do both - art that you enjoy and art that sells - and find a nice middle ground. Although, I have to admit, "middle ground" is somewhat to artists like Tolkein's "middle earth" is to the modern age. It sounds nice, but it really doesn't exist. Boy, I've really helped out haven't I? Can you say rambling, esoteric musings? Anyway, know that I understand your frustration. I'll be interested to hear what conclusion you come to.
Love to ya, pardner.

Deb

10:18 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I think Deb has hit the nail on the head, so to speak.There's no easy answer,I wish there was - I really do think a good break would do you the world of good - and try not to over analyze, thats as bad as not thinking at all lol!
Hope things work out for you whatever you decide.
Love your work and have found really inspiring so keep up the great work!

6:23 AM  
Blogger One Crabapple said...

Oh Miss Bees in her Bonnet - here you are with a blog !

Fantastic. I think I came by way of Vintage Moon...?

Anyway, Blogger acting up tonight and not letting me post..let's see before I write too much that will be lost if it will let my comment thru...
Love, S.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Becky you just spoke volumes of what so many artists wrestle with. I have been on a bit of a roller coaster of my own with these issues. Making art that sells versus art that speaks my heart. I went back to my full time job this week to put food on the table, in a way it is freeing to know I can create what I want without worrying whether it will sell, but at the same time I am limited to nights and weekends for creating. I'm thinking part time job has to be the happy medium. Part time job doing something art related would be an even happier medium. Hubby getting a job in a field he loves with enough pay to cover it all, now that would be priceless!
Crystal

1:21 PM  
Anonymous christine said...

Becky -- I feel the same way!!! Often the cards I make that sell are the ones I like the least - gasp!! Very curious.... isn't it? And I know exactly what you mean about forcing your name out there -- it's a constant battle and I feel like no one reads the COMM after a while!! I think a break is a necessary thing once in a while..... xoxoxox

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Blogger Joyful House Farms said...

Eck, again, you seem to get right to the very point and all of us relate! Amazing talent you have with that!
Anyway, I, unfortunately, have no profound, outstanding suggestions at all. Just a tiny comment to say that I, too, have felt the same way.
Deb definitely had some good thoughts.
Love ya.
Cara

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First I wanted to tell you that I live in Beaverton too! Great weather we had last night. I lost power for over 12 hours.

Anyway...
Don't be hard on yourself for whatever decisions you make on the directions your art will take. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money from your creativity.

I remember back when I was in Art School and would hear some of the other students talking about how they would only do art for art sake. They would say, "my creative process is more important than matching someone's couch!"

However, I had this really excellent art professor who emphasized to his students that art is a profession and a business like any other. I remember him telling us, "If you only wanted to paint what you like, it might end up only hanging over your couch."

I felt deeply a lot of what you said. The artwork that I do right now is 100% what I can sell. I was really feeling bad when I got praise for it. So I made a conscious decision to treat it more like I was a graphic designer. After all, they use creativity professionally and make money for their efforts. So why can't I?

After that, I was less stressed about making art. I just determine how much money I need to make for the basic bills to be covered, then I figure out what I need to produce for this to happen.

I noticed too that when my "business" artwork was selling regularly, I could slip in some of my "personal" artwork and sell that too. The market for my "personal" artwork is just too small for me to make a full-time business out of.

Hang in there!
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Hello Becky! I'm so happy to see that you have a blog! I found it from wonderful Little Melfie's blog. I have loved your art since I first found it on your website and I tried to send you an e-mail from your website twice, but for some reason, it didn't work! I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your work and I know exactly that feeling of who am I making this for and sitting staring at all my supplies in my studio for long periods of time! I know the suggestion I am about to make will not help the "artist identity problem", but flickr.com is a great place to get your work further recognized and is full of so much inspiration and other artists who always have kind comments and encouragement for other artists. Many show their work there and add a link to their etsy shop. Just a thought. Your art always puts a giant grin on my face and often causes me to giggle and I thank you for that. Just so you know, I have wanted to buy your pieces that I have seen on ebay before, but I just have no money to spend on anything extra- if I did I would probably have bought it all! :D It's my dream to be able to make art and sell enough to help with the bills, since I'm a stay-at-home mama. Come visit my blog sometime!
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Blogger Doojie said...

Amen Sister!!!!! You spoke for all of us in the biz. Absolutely, I have no answers but I think you are so wise to put this out in the universe for us to ponder/pray and perhaps come up with something.

One theory I have is that (especially in our Alpha area Balto/DC) here we are being overrun with the big box stores. I'm quilty of the same mentality as so many~too lazy or busy to buy my milk, rxs, decorative items, shoes, shampoo, etc. at separate locations. And most of the fabulous small businesses that I know of here are really struggling~p.s. tomorrow is the last day we are open at our Ellicott City shop. Instead of getting an unusual, non-cookie cutter, beautiful antique you have to pay cash (or credit card)for, you are competing with the big boxers for cloned matching room sets that you don't have to pay for for 2 years. Mainstream seems to have completely lost interest and imagination in paying for high quality, one of a kind, hand made special pieces instead of just choosing from a ready-made matching set off the showroom floor.

Obviously, my soap box is too big to not overwhelm your "viewers". I does get discouraging and it gets challenging to justify the time, expense, and distraction when we aren't getting enough feedback.

And one last theory until next time. I think it's also a sheep problem. We see a lot of people at shows that love our art but don't know what to do with it. The more priviledged are stopped because they'd have to pay their decorator to come in and perfectly place a 4 x 6 collage art piece in such a way as to not embarrase themselves in front of their friends. So often we hear, "but what would I do with it?", to which we say, "hang it on a door knob, dresser knob, nail, prop it on a bookshelf", and they walk away totally befuddled. It seems that there are many comsumers that are so insecure about prooving their good taste that wait until it reaches mainstream in Target, Wal~Mart, Room Store, ect. before they feel secure enough to buy.

Let's please band together and continue to strategize and ponder and pray to keep art alive. You are so right, Becky, your art does make me smile and I strive for the same influence in my own artwork~WE MUST NOT STOP SMILING!!!! Lots of love, Stephanie/Doojies www.doojies.blogspot.com ~ shameless!

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Anonymous Amanda said...

This is a subject that all artists should talk about more. Thank you for bringing it up. I love your work. I am not sure how I stumbled upon it, but I am glad I did. Your work has inspired me to "collage outside the lines". Your 3D pieces are my favorite. Now that I have found your blog, I will check back often to see what you create next.

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