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.






11 comments:

Little Pig said...

hear! hear!

Sue Pariseau Pottery said...

Amen!

Abysmal Musings said...

Bravo!

Barbara said...

Well said. I made what people wanted to buy when I was a jeweler. Never want to see another piece of silver.

Linda Starr said...

Yes, the trick is to find the people who like what you make. I was thinking of this the other day and thought, if I like it and it feels right for me to make, then there must be someone else in the world who would love to have it.

Potterchik said...

Hey all -- Thanks for support. SOmetimes when I bring this topic up, I get accused of snobbery. Which, you know, is not entirely false -- I may be a pottery snob.
Linda -- you said it.

Kathleen Krucoff said...

No apology necessary.

As an artist, you have to be true to yourself...otherwise, I think it will show in your work that it's just phony. Market to people who are fans of your work...

kyle kunnecke said...

it was a perfect post until you started apologizing.... never apologize for something you really feel passionately about! we all agree wholeheartedly!!!

MudStuffing Pottery said...

I loved this post, you had me hooked with "Well - pardon my Klingon - fuck that noise"...

Anonymous said...

Some people just don't get it. They just want to sell SOMETHING, they don't care if it is what they really believe in, or not.
At least if you are making what you like, and aren't successful, you have failed on your own terms, and can hold your head up proudly, instead of hanging your head in pandering disgrace.

Hollis Engley said...

Amen. Lots of "craft" shows are full of people making things that they know will sell. And good for them, if that's what their hearts tell them to make. I've always thought the trick is to find the intersection of making something you love with what people will buy. Very tricky. Here on Cape Cod, lobsters and lighthouses sell better than teabowls and Shino or wood-fired vases. So be it. For me, the lobsters-and-lighthouses way would be manufacturing. I'll get by on what I can sell of what I like to make.

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