Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Make What People Want to Buy"

This is the most common advice I read online for artists. I saw it today in the Etsy forums; I see it everywhere. Not selling as well as you'd like? Change what you make to something people want more! Do market research to find out what to make!

Well - pardon my Klingon - fuck that noise. If you aren't going to be true to your aesthetic, what's the point of being an artist at all? If you just want to sell stuff and you don't care what, why not sell insurance? I know a guy making six figures doing that.
Here's how it might play out in my case: Let's say my market research informs me that in Maine, a lot of people seem to enjoy buying smooth rocks with lobsters and lighthouses painted on them. How could that translate to pottery? Why, I could make pots with lobsters and lighthouses painted on them! I'm not interested in that imagery, but I'd probably sell 'em faster than I could make 'em. Unless I didn't...because I'm not interested in it, I might not do it well. And then I'd have a bunch of pots that even I didn't like. Or, I would sell bunches of them, and I'd spend hours of the only life I get making stuff which is meaningless to me. It's a no-win.

The way I see it, part of an artist's job is trying to find the people who want to buy what you want to make. Sure, it would be easier to change what what you make, but if that's the priority, it's much easier not to be an artist at all.

Sorry for sermon.

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