Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Being Caught Off-guard!

I had an interesting experience last week that seems to have sparked a lot of thought. I signed up and attended a workshop at my local bead shop with my daughter. It was to be a fun evening out. Another person there was someone I had worked with a number of years ago who came up to me and started talking about my business - wanting to "pick my brain" as she was planning on beading full-time once she retired. I could feel my back go up and I felt trapped, uncertain of how to respond to her request. She also joked that she would go "steal my designs" once she discovered I had a website.

I believe I knew she was kidding and was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. In processing it I realized that for those on the outside looking in, having a small business creating and selling jewelry must seem like the ideal life. It did for me when I was beginning to contemplate leaving my "real" job. Now that I am in it, the reality seems quite different. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and hope that I can continue this forever, but there is a "harsher" reality which is less enjoyable - trying to make a living doing what I love, having the time to do all that needs to be done and still have time to create, creative blocks, etc.

One of the things I know is that I am not competitive with others who design jewelry - even though I am sometimes disappointed when, for example, I apply for a craft show and get told that they've reached their maximum for jewelers. There are a lot of us out there and the trick seems to be developing my own niche - something that separates me out from the crowd. That is not as easy for me and continues to be an ongoing process.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it gives me, and many others, the opportunity to hear what jewelry making is for others - I love feeling a part of a larger community of artists who express themselves in a multitude of ways. It nourishes my spirit.


  1. I think I get more protective of your creative processes than you do. Sometimes to the point of annoying you. I am glad you were able to work this out for yourself.

  2. oh, i am very very very protective of my designs. i have a friend whose work is constantly being stolen and she spends A LOT of time dealing with it.

    but, when we put our work out there, it's out there. we have to deal with whatever comes up.

    but, even though she was (hopefully) joking, she went about it the wrong way. all my hackles would have gone up too.

    i have been giving a lot of thought to figuring out how to "brand" my name and my work - it's hard finding that niche, and once you do, hard to keep the creative process going.

  3. I guess it's different when you're a painter, because it's almost impossible to steal another painter's "style". Even if a dozen of us attempted to reproduce a Van Gogh, we'd wind-up with twelve very different paintings...

    And it seems that, in these difficult economic times, few artists are managing to making a decent living. And I'm finding my fellow painters much more supportive as we struggle with the same issues. (nobody understands the creative process and the need to make art better than another artist...)

    Time stands still for me when I'm painting--dishes don't get done, beds don't get made, dogs don't get walked. But man, does my soul ever soar. Wouldn't trade this feeling for anything in the world.....

  4. I think we all feel that angst when someone tries to glean all our secrets in the thought that there might be even MORE competition out there - and really, isn't there enough already!? But you just have to have confidence in your work, your aesthetic and vision and forge on ahead. If they can't work it out for themselves and can't create without copying they won't make it very far.