the value of Art

Last week I posted about the big change in my financial life due to the big change in the art market.  Whereas for much of 30 years I had been able to make the majority of my living as a studio artist, primarily by selling works of my fine art through galleries, in the last 3 years, since the crash,  I have had to readjust how I spend my time to be sure that my daytime, studio activity is still going to keep my boat afloat.  I still do not have what some folks call “a day job”, nor do I want one!

My days are now spent more at the computer, working on designs, or making small gift type items, utilizing my ribbon or not, to sell in town as well as at some museum stores around the country.  I feel as if I am constantly juggling these identities: artist, designer, craftsperson.  I do believe all three points of view are essential in a mature artist of any persuasion, but trying to do well at all 3 in 3 different kinds of applications (as opposed to combining them in the main work of art/design/craft at hand) sometimes feels less integrated and more split than I am accustomed to feeling!

So I am trying to imbue the design and craftmaking activities with the earnest, focused vision of my fine art, while still maintaining a clear, serene and separate studio practice of meditative artmaking which responds only to my own vision, not to the demands of any market.

One of the arguments “against” craft, in the old days, was that it lacked the intellectual power of fine art.  We all know that is baloney, as is the idea that “art” appeals to the greater spiritual nature etc. etc.  Craft can be an inspiring outpouring of faith, in humanity, in creativity, in spirituality.  But the craft that I speak of above, in my case, refers more to making little gift items that people like, maybe love, and hopefully will buy.  A different motivation!  Nonetheless, I have never hesitated to call myself an artist, even a “fine” artist, and claim the status that may confer.  I live an intensely creative life with vision made manifest in my best work, which I call my “fine art”. That is enough for me.

So I leave tonight with this question:
How do I begin to imbue the directed design and craft work that I do, such as my new “Eat Well” towel, with the spiritual and intellectual energy that it took to weave “Beatrice”?

3 thoughts on “the value of Art

  1. Ann Brauer

    Interesting question Laura. I have for a long time made a selection of smaller items to coordinate with my larger quilts. There is a challenge in making something that will remind customers of the larger pieces. In addition I have found that having the smaller items does help the sales of the larger items. An interesting challenge but I try to keep all pieces “honest”.

  2. lotta

    Thank you for this post Laura! Once again your reflections resonate with my own on so many levels. I am also trying to bridge the gap between art and craft/production. I find that there is resistance in both camps. The art audience does not always like non-traditional medium/heritage of fiber and the craft audience does not like when an object becomes too artistic (ie expensive). I approach this the same way as I think you try to do – by pouring my heart into everything I take on. It is only when something becomes too routine and “produced” that I get unhappy with my work, or the work process. Now this approach does not necessarily translate into financial success, which is yet another frustrating topic of discussion…

  3. kateuk

    I too do ‘all sorts’ to get by…it is all one’s work, inevitably the knowledge and skills of everything one has ever made/created goes into each new piece, its just that some pieces are different from others, a bit like sketches and final paintings, some things are just ‘lighter’ than others.I do find that the simpler things I do feedback into the more complicated and vice versa and I do enjoy ringing the changes, but I get a bit jumpy if I haven’t been stuck into some painting for a while.There’s work I do that is easier and enjoyable but there’s the other work that is hard and personal- both set challenges and both need to be taken seriously, but in different ways!The more commercial work has to still be ‘your’ work.I too get frustrated by the blinkered attitudes towards what is ‘craft’ and what is ‘art’ and the absurd hierarchies that are perpetuated.

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