Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Globalization Of The Artistic Community And The Return Of The Renaissance Human

This post came by after a whole lot of thinking, and while there might be other, better researched articles on the subject, never the less,I wanted to ponder about our modern world of how social media effects arts, the positive and the negative effects of it, from a very subjective perspective of course. No eternal truths here, Dear Reader, just some random, very un-linear thinking...

Let me start with my personal account how the internet changed my art. Years ago, I used to paint murals. It was never a full time thing for me, but I had some well paying jobs here and there, and people learned about who I was and what I did because they saw my work at their local pizzeria, flower shop, barber shop,or their friend got a mural from me, and they liked it and wanted something similar for themselves. I did not advertise and none of my business was based on any online activity of mine. I suppose many other entrepreneurs  still do business the same way today. If you provide a valuable service for your locals, this is the best method for getting more of their  business. Honest hard work, good ethics will do it .

Then I have moved from New York to Colorado, to Boulder to be exact. A town I did not know anyone in, a town teaming with students including art students where I have not seen a single mural in any businesses.
Well, by this time I kind of had enough of mural painting anyways: there is always someone watching behind your back, making sure the cerulean of the sky is just right for their kitchen. Meanwhile,I picked up beading on the way, and I felt that this was a logical continuation of my artistic pursuits, and it was delightful to be able to make art at home with no one criticizing my work while I was at it. My plan was to sell it online, and soon enough I learned about Etsy, and it seemed so easy. Make it, put the same amount of love and good craftsmanship into it, that I would do with everything, and it will sell.

Right????

Well, of course it took years to translate my innate artistic talents from painting into bead embroidery, anything worth doing is only worth doing well ,and talent is zilch without practice.
 So add a couple thousand hours of practice, persistence, patience,falling on my face numerous times, large slices of humble pie and some great moments of beady ecstasy, and the understanding that there is always something to be learned and I am but a dwarf standing  on the shoulder of giants, add all that, and you get to where I feel like I am at the moment.  I make things that people like ( thank you, thank you), things that people buy (awesome), and I still have a full time retail job that sometimes sucks the life out of me. Sometimes it can be rewarding. It is quite tiresome though, and physically demanding.

I have my Etsy store, and I have learned that if my pictures are not right, my products won't sell. I had a point and shoot ittsy bittsy Fuji digital camera, it did the job, but just so, and I have outgrown it. Now keep in mind, that my bead habit pays for itself, but not much more. Which is fine by me, I did not expect to hit the jackpot here, but have no illusions Dear Reader, Yours Truly is not rolling in dough .

In order for me, to sell more product, I had to learn about Search Engine Optimization, and I needed a new camera.  I am still not entirely successful with the SEO stuff, the website I started to build, I never finished yet. There is only so much I can do with having to work 40-45 hours a week, plus commuting, plus taking care of my small family. Stuff we all do, but if I want to get better at beading, if I want to be recognized as an artist, I need to put in full time effort not only at work, where I am the most productive sales person, but with my artwork too.

I got a new camera, and I got a small studio setup, and I got Photoshop and I got a book about how to use all of these things new to me, because I certainly can not afford a professional studio photographer and an IT person, right?

Considering that I never touched a computer till I was 20, that's no small feat.

I joined Facebook, and all the sudden people I only admired from afar, started looking at my work, and soon enough, Steven Weiss of the Beadsmith Company ( May his whiskers never grow grey) found me and put me into his company's album of "Movers and Shakers", US edition.
I thought that was just about the grandest thing ever. Then he invited me to be part of his Battle of the Beadsmith, a global event with 80 participants from all over the world.
This is such a unique event in so many ways: The people in it would never ever be able to get together under the same roof, we are from all over the world, different from one another more then you can imagine, yet united by the love for all things beady...

Here I am, on the verge of a new age, as far as beading and many other forms of art are concerned:
It is clear to me that we entered a new era, very much like the Renaissance, when being a successful artist means something more then what we got used to.

In today's global artistic community, making beautiful, well made and well loved work is not enough, unless you have a different source of income or you are independently wealthy.
If you want to make a living, or just want to be able to participate in this rebirth of arts, the newfound appreciation of all things handmade and well crafted, you have to be a Polymath.
A person who is an expert in a significant number of different subject areas.

You can not just make beautiful jewelry. Unless you are blessed with local buyers or wealth to hire your personal entourage, you are not going to make any money selling , neither will you meet with like minded individuals to help you on the way online, if you have computer phobia.

Is this a good thing? Well, it has it's good and bad aspects. To me, as a person who would not qualify as middle class and has to work an awful lot, I feel like this new system , like any other system is so much easier if one has money. So yes, socioeconomic status in the beading world is definitely relevant.
I do have an inquisitive mind that just wants to assimilate all knowledge around me ( resistance is futile), and a willingness to spend my profits on new equipment that seems like a good investment in my beading future, and this new way of networking made it possible for me to gain a wider audience.

Does this sound like everyone has a fair chance at being known for their outstanding work? Definitely no. I have an insane drive, and even though I consider beading as my second job, I don't mind spending all my free time doing it, or doing things related to it. It is worth it for me, because I found my bliss,and now I understand that doing what I love to do has a lot to do with learning about 10 different things I might not love to do as much. But I do recognize that I am privileged because my family supports my pursuits ( that is Paul and Sammy, Butters and Moony could not care less), and I am young enough where the technology does not scare the  living daylight out of me, and at least I know I have a chance to meet the right people, so to me , this artistic globalization works.

How do you feel about it? I am insanely curious to see if anyone even read through of all this. Send me you comments .
Beaders of the World, Unite!