I was reading some posts on an art retreat Yahoo! site this morning and I got to thinking…
Selling your art is a huge undertaking.
There are artists who have a “stable” of apprentices who churn out art once the artist has made an original. When I buy a Thomas Mann piece I understand that he did not make the piece I receive, one of his apprentices did. If you buy soldered charms from larger stores, nine times out of ten they are coming from a “mass-produced” environment. Other artists like Sally Jean Alexander, Stephanie Lee, or Nina Bagley do it all themselves.
So how do we, the art enthusiast fit into this scenario? We visit an artist’s site, eager to review items for sale and our eyes light on that perfect item that we cannot possibly live without. What do we do? We sprint into the hall and grab the credit card and place our order before all 50 of the limited edition object d’arte are snapped up, that’s what we do!
Once we’ve paid, we begin watching our mailbox anxiously awaiting that wonderful parcel. Some artists only sell what they have in hand. We as “consumers” have no problem understanding these transactions. When we get into trouble is when an artist sells work that has yet to be created.
For truly “one of a kind” art (paintings or digital prints that are produced at a graphics shop), the former (selling what you have) is a good fit. You hole up in your studio and create a number of canvases and then upload them to etsy.com and watch the frenzy! For artists who try to offer a wide variety and multiple “limited edition” runs of items, making hundreds up front doesn’t make as much sense. That soldered charm that says “Laugh until you pee your pants!” may seem perfect to you, but the buying public can be fickle. So this artist often prefers to offer things that are made to order.
This is when we the art enthusiast can run into problems. What’s taking so long? Why should I pay before it’s made? Doesn’t h/she know I needed this now? Why doesn’t the artist contact me with information? The list goes on and on…
We’re only human and it’s okay to get bummed. It’s what we do with our feelings that’s important. I try to remember what I liked about the piece, what it said to me while I’m waiting. I also don’t sit and stew waiting for a note from the artist. I’ll write them and politely request an update on the status of my order. I’ve only ever received positive, kind, and apologetic messages from artists.
Artists don’t set out to disappoint us. They’re flattered and humbled that we enjoy their work enough to pay for it. Custom art is a gift that takes time. The time spent is part of the joy for me and I know from my own experience that the creative muse cannot be rushed.
I have not received the “In a Dollhouse” pendant I ordered in September, but I know I will and when I open that parcel and gingerly free her from her blue tissue paper cocoon all the waiting will be a distant memory!