Do you ever think about what your dream home would look like if money
were no object? Would it look like luxury home photos in magazines?
Would you be surrounded by expensive furniture and whatever art and
decor that was trendy and expensive at the time? Would you want things
like a pool and a tennis court even if you don’t really like to swim or
play tennis? Or would it be a completely unique place all of your own?
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what makes us want something,
and why sometimes we find ourselves wanting things that don’t really fit
us as individuals. Sometimes we want things because its more about them
helping us fit in rather than those things fitting who we are.
Lately I’ve seen multiple articles like this about Etsy’s most successful seller. http://www.inquisitr.com/1863026/thr…libaba-claims/ I’ve started to completely rethink my approach to selling art.
Common advice to artists is to become a brand. Basically this means to
somehow magically make distinctive art and become famous at the same
time. This is great advice because our society is brand obsessed. Even
as artists, we are brand obsessed. Etsy’s most successful seller created
a brand that is so big that now she must have her designs mass
produced. She’s definitely a brand but is she an artist?
Is it really Etsy’s problem that they have to find a way to survive and
thrive as a huge popular website that serves a culture that is brand
obsessed? Just like food brands would have never taken corn syrup out of
their products before documentaries like Food, Inc, got so popular,
Etsy won’t change before the culture does.
I believe that big brands are as to artists as huge farms are to small
local farms. The reason that so many people desperately want to sell
their art and work for themselves is to avoid having to work a soulless
unfulfilling career, but ironically many of those soulless careers are
working for a big brand. I think marketing is often approached by other
artists as a way to get their art seen by more people and bought by more
customers over other artists. I can give you advice on how you
personally can get an edge over other artists by finding the right
keywords and optimizing your listings for search engines, etc, but that
can only help one person be able to quit their regular 9-5 to sell their
Other artists aren’t your competition, brands are. If we can work to
sell art itself to people instead of just marketing our own art and
trying to find a way to tell everyone how great your work is without
sounding egocentric or stepping on others toes or spamming all your fans
you’ll create real change in the world. The hands that make products
for a brand don’t belong to the minds that dreamed them up and in that
disconnect the “soul” is lost. Art has soul. Art that is created in the
mind and made by the hands of the artists that belong to that mind, that
are ONE with that mind, that art has soul.
The problem is that as a culture we don’t put a monetary value on that.
We dismiss that “soul” as oh you made something cute, oh she is crafty.
Oh he does art for a hobby. Then we turn around and put a huge monetary
value on something mass produced or even made in a sweatshop because it
has a brand name. Someone put a lot of money into advertising and
product research to make you aware of that thing. They spent a lot of
money to make you believe that if you own and display that thing that it
will enhance your ego or impress people you don’t really care about.
A masterfully crafted craft or piece of original art is not something
that you throw away when the trend has passed. Rather there is no trend
to come or go but the thing has true value that is more likely to
increase then quickly diminished with time. The less well known the
artist and the more original the art, the less brand like it is.
Trends in fashion are the most ridiculous waste of resources because
essentially a trend is started by a few brave people who discover they
want to be different from everyone else and everyone else wants to be
different too so they all end up looking the same. Then it’s on to the
new trends. Trends are destroying the earth. Instead buy an original
piece of art that speaks to you, that you love and be original.
Before you purchase something ask yourself? Why do I like this? Do I
like it just because I like the brand name? Do I like it because it’s
popular? Do I value it because I think it has value or because my friend
thinks it has value? How much is this actually worth considering the
materials and time spent on workmanship? Whose hands made this and who
designed it? Are they the same person? If not how greatly removed are