Monday, February 21, 2011

Risk and Reward

Living as I do in a remote area, I am frequently grateful for the Internet and the ability it gives me to keep in touch with other artists around the country and the wider world. I can tailor-make my list of blogs, choosing only those that are specific to my interests. I can surf museum sites and online galleries, browsing the best modern and ancient art and craft and I don't have to go further than my home office.

When I was in an artists' support group some years ago, our only means of communication was by phone and the only artists I had met locally all worked in a two-dimensional medium. We do have lots of fine craft artists in Vermont but you could only get to their studios by trekking through snow or over muddy roads or just wait until they had gallery shows and hope that they were staged in the warm months.

So with the advent of the Internet I now have many friends online who work in various media. We have Facebook, Flickr and the blogosphere where we meet and converse and share ideas and critique each others' work.

But I think there are true dangers to the creative life in the trend to present your work in the social media. It's great to get your work out there to a wider audience but are we becoming approval junkies? Do you ever find the need to be liked shaping your art? Causing you to re-think a design? The risk is that staying in the same groove may win approval and nice comments on Flickr or Facebook but may cause us to play it safe when it comes to swinging out there to make innovations or try new techniques.

Although what I do is not driven by the market--that is, I don't sell my work to earn a living, I have heard from other designers that their customers do appreciate innovation and new designs. So the many online opportunities that exist to challenge your creativity are excellent motivators as long as you're not just turning in work to meet a deadline at the expense of quality.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party Three and our reveal date is this Saturday. I have a beautiful stash of beads and objects from my partner this time, Lyn Foley and although I have a design already sketched out, I'll be disappointed if I'm not challenged in making it all come together. For me, that's the reward for taking the risk of putting myself and my work out there. To find out something new as I'm working. To discover a new technique or a new material. To make a new connection with another artist. I'm taking a pledge to quit obsessing about recognition and get on with tuning in to the creative Muse, to let her inspire new breakthroughs and insights in 2011.

Here are a couple of photos of work that I did for a recent online challenge that has inspired several notebook pages' worth of ideas. It doesn't get any better than that!

Lantern beads - polymer clay and oil pastels

Evening of a Summer's Day
Polymer clay, agate, pearls, African glass spacers, Czech glass beads


  1. When I started my little business I knew I had to focus on making what I liked and not what other people wanted me to make. All the time I hear "you need to make this" and "you need to do that". I just smile and stick to my guns and very politely tell people that I make what I like and if other people like it and want to purchase it, wonderful. Thanks for a great blog post.

  2. Loving the texture and colors in this design! I agree with what you are saying about the oportunities online. With my busy life, I like being able to connect with others around my schedule...enjoy your day!

  3. Ooooh, very nice Christine! I love the lantern beads. Might a few siblings in the blue, purple, or violet family find their way to an "out-of-this-world" necklace collaboration? I think they might be just perfect...

  4. interesting post... it is definitely important to grow as we work... to do what feels authentic to our selves... i know what i love about blogger is supporting those trying do do the same... many of us are isolated so it is nice to have someone to show things to... i personally don't 'do' other social networking - not because i am a snob - just because i have to make choices about how to spend my very precious time... i personally love blogging... but i think you make a really valid point which applies to other people and areas of life as well - people revealing too much...

  5. Christine, as usual you present such good food for thought. :-) I agree, it can be a struggle between creating for ourselve and creating what we know will be "approved". I believe I truly try to only create what I like personally because the motivation just wouldn't be there to do othewise. And Mary Jane hit the nail on the head about the other social mediums. Blogging is fun but time consuming - both writing my own posts and trying to get around to other sites that I like. That is about all the time I have. I've never understood the frequent, all-day updates on FB, but that is my own personal hang up. Thank you for the reminder to be true to ourselves. As always, your new work is spectacular. The lantern beads are beautiful and the color is fantatic!

  6. I have stepped away from Facebook. I don't like the invasiveness that I feel there, as if I am unsure how many people might be stalking me out there. I also think that there tends to be a lot of rah-rah going on in the blogs and on social media. I post things if I want to share, but I know that it is not for everyone. I am going to give this some serious thought. I think that I would like to have honest feedback on my designs not just fawning over them. If someone likes or dislikes something, I want to know! I do want people to like them, but every thing I make is something that I would like to wear (and often do!), so I am more concerned about creating with my own voice rather than listening to others.
    Enjoy the day!
    P.S. So very far behind. Have hardly taken my Bead Soup materials out of their package from Germany! I need to kick it into high gear this week!

  7. Great post. I love the oohs and aahs, I loved them before I ever connected to the internet and still do. Sometimes I take other peoples advice about what to make but it is always something I like and would be proud to have my name attached to. My current outlook is to create something that is not just original but distinctive.

  8. I'm a blogger, not so much on Facebook. I tend to forget about Facebook -- "oh yeah, I should post something there."

    The jewelry I make I have to like. It might be 180 degrees from my norm, but I still have to like it.

    Blogging for me is keeping me sane. I know a lot of people don't like it. But I feel I was meant to write ... something. When my bead book is done, the novel will start.

  9. Like you, I live in an area where I do not have much access to people that I can share my creative addiction with. So, blogging is a much appreciated way of connecting. But it also eats up quite a bit of time. So, I shy away from other social networking possibilities, for I need the time to work on and build my repetoire of techniques.
    Love the way the colour in your necklace moves from bright orange to subtle greys!

  10. I agree with you! I have made this year's resolution: I will only create what I like, what comes out of me, out of my heart and out of my mind! I strongly believe that these are the true masterpieces.

  11. Hi Christine;

    Thank you for an insightful post.
    I just recently closed my Facebook account for some of the reasons mentioned. I am just too stretched out to take any more internet time. I want the time I do spend on the web to be useful and insprirational. The Bead Soup Party and Art Bead scene challenges give me an opportunity to stretch, and as you said, garner new techniques, new materials, new ideas.
    Exchanging beads with you has done just that - and more. I created three pieces using your beads (!) and wandered off in a new direction for me. Thank you.

  12. I'm so happy to see what you made and be introduced to your blog. I'll be back to see more o your cool jewelry.

  13. Wow! That's all I can say! Wow!