Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giving It All Away

....a lot of it, anyway.

Following the sale at my no-longer-open Etsy shop -- and thank you to any readers who purchased quilts there -- I proceeded to gift friends with numerous quilts.  And I've also donated art quilts and hand knit scarves to three animal welfare organizations in Humboldt County, to be auctioned at their upcoming events in 2012.

This was all part of the plan I developed a couple months ago ~ to let go of most of my early work.  I much prefer people enjoying my work, whether they purchased it or not, than having it sit or hang in storage.

And, I still have a fine collection.  Plus room for whatever I make in future.

For years I've been selling my work, or trying to, and it's been exhausting.  In my art sales career, I have created by hand or designed, and sold ~
  • handmade ready made and custom clothing
  • handknit sweaters and scarves
  • cotton jersey balloon pants and tops and jumpsuits that I designed and had produced in Bali
  • collage notecards and hand painted postcards
  • fimo jewelry
  • beaded jewelry
  • handpainted scarves
  • handwoven scarves
  • art quilts
  • textile postcards
The thing with selling my art, though, is that I was nearly always behind the curve instead of in front of it.  I guess I'm not much of an innovator.  My work has always been my own, but it's not what I would call "cutting edge."  Or maybe the work was "hot" for a moment, but I couldn't follow that up with a new line or a dozen new designs or whatever.  It's just been me, here, after all.  One person trying to do it all, every aspect of it from imagining to making to selling and everything in between.

The bottom line is that I am a maker of things, always have been and always will be.  And I love being generous with what I create.  The lesson in letting go of stuff whether it sells or not, is that since I can't take it with me when I die, I may as well put it out into the universe and let others enjoy it or be supported by it.

All that said, I am not against selling my work -- I just don't want to have to market it in any meaningful way any longer.  That takes the joy and pleasure out of making.  And I'm in it for the joy and pleasure, for the most part these days.


artymess said...

gosh good for you Connie that was a brave decision ......i love your quilts especially your Italy picture ones ......I understand completely where you are coming from regarding making and selling and the pure pleasure of creating just for the joy of it ....unfortunately I am going in the opposite direction as I am facing redundancy from my teaching job so am thinking how i can make my art pay !!.it's never easy is it or straightforward .......keep making the collages though I so enjoy them ...xx

Emma said...

You are a brave & generous woman!

Have a lovely clutter free Christmas!

Irene said...

It takes courage to let go of the things you created gratis and hope they end up in a good home. You hope the people will love and appreciate them as much as you do. I'm sure that will be the case, have no fear. They will see the value of and the love you put in your work. XOX

Sandy said...

Boy, do I hear you. I've done the same and decided when I had the surgery 2 yrs. ago that I'm just going to enjoy making it. I've been giving things away.

TALL GIRL said... speak to my soul! Like you I don't want to be holding onto so much of my early work. I have gifted friends with early work and donated to charitable fundraisers; and still there is so much.

I have yet to reconcile giving away 'too much' work with the fact that I continue to market & sell work. Word gets around...Yet I stew about making new work when I have so much already.

In reading your post I can clearly see it is a spiritual action rather than a capitalistic one! Thanks are a trailblazer.

Unknown said...

Applause for the UN-cluttering, Connie. Your story resonates with me. So much of my early work in quilting has gone - and continues to go - to fundraisers for local good causes, and I am always glad to see it go! -sus

Anonymous said...

You must have some mixed feelings about this. I frequently wrestle with this issue too and have given away much more than I've sold. Next year I will have to find paid work to make ends meet, and I find that I'm actually looking forward to being able to make work just for the joy of it without all the pressure of needing to sell it. Just wanted to let you know I hear you and am right there with you.

Alice said...

Wonderful post, wonderful decision. I'm going to print this out and hang it in my studio. You've given me a lot to think about. Good luck to you in whatever you do next.

Judy Alexander said...

Brave decision and what an inspiration to all who have piles of work that we can't part with. This must have been a freeing experience. Have fun creating.

jackie said...

I haven't even bothered with craft fairs this year, and am thinking what to do with all the accumulated work stuck in the cupboard. I will go through it in the New Year, but am not sure I will be as brave as you.

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Connie. Thought-provoking post. Yeah, there's that debate out there about artists and selling and "professional" etc. I gave up on money long ago--fortunately I work very slowly (and gift occasionally) so the accumulation is under control. And then I keep thinking that I'm going to go back and rework/recreate some of the old pieces . I try to keep in mind the Watts Towers in LA. (which the city almost tore down!). May you build towers in your own way.
best, nadia